Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Thursday, November 12, 2009

A Cork-y Fling

By Sabhanaz Rashid Diya

You can feel it in thew air. The rustling leaves, fragments of chill, slightly colder dawns, warmer mugs of coffee and growing attraction towards sleeping - they all indicate the coming of the most blissful season of all times, dearest winter.

It's on its way and though less 'chilling' than it should be as a result of freakish man-invested climate fluctuations, you can still feel its offset. Of course, for the more nature nonchalant from the lot, winter can only mean one thing.

"Ya baby, it's badminton time!"

If you haven't played badminton in the dark of night under the glowing sodium bulbs in the streets of Dhaka during winter, you've probably missed the joy of a lifetime. The swoosh of racquets and loss of innumerable corks are probably things most of us have grown old with.

Of course, since Dhaka is clogged with mushrooming buildings where you can watch your neighbour's TV while sitting in your living room couch, the current racquet sport scenario might seem in distress. Fear not! We, Bangalis have an overwhelming power to overcome any situation, and challenge every existent and non-existent loophole!

If we can't do it in the fields, we'll take it to the streets. If the streets won't allow us, we'll take it to our roofs! But, we will play badminton.

Only last year, a couple of friends and I set up an exquisite badminton court on our rooftop. It was exquisite since we couldn't afford a 'protective' net 'round the roof but somehow, could afford the uncountable number of corks we lost every time we played.

Occasionally, the surrounding buildings came to use since we would frequently rediscover our so-called lost corks on their roofs the following day.

Feather corks, plastic corks or crumpled pieces of paper; nothing was able to subdue our winter badminton spirit. The news of our exquisite court spread like wildfire, and friends we haven't seen for ages would come to play with us. Our teams grew in number with more people paying for the corks, and sometimes, coke! In quintessence, badminton is a sport of spirits that reunites us for a winter every year!

The beauty of badminton is such that it affects everyone. As toddlers, we've probably seen our brothers or sisters or their friends or cousins or relatively anyone visually conceivable getting prepared to play badminton. Bringing out the old racquets, buying new corks, making sincere efforts to be extra-friendly to those who have courts or a ruling say during the game, it's all part of the season.

What's even more exciting is how this sport spreads across boundaries of race, colour, religion, size, IQ level and social holding. It's played by almost everyone; everywhere and frequently; you'd find the rich daddy's kid tossing a cork at the street urchin. It supersedes the human manifestation of borders and differences, and any one at any age would do a lot (not everything) to scoop this game of racquets.

Enough being said about the true awesomeness of badminton, it is now time to tie up our shoelaces, put on a slim jacket and get our racquets out.

It's time to make friends for a month or two, and be prepared to forget all about it after the game is over. We've begun getting our exquisite court prepared for the season's game, while friends of ours have managed empty plots to take the sport to the next level. Be it in the streets, fields, plots or roofs, badminton is on!

The call of the court and the shuttlecock

By Osama Rahman

As winter beckons, it brings invitations of weddings, holidays and merry weather. In Bangladesh, it also means its Badminton time. Forget Global Warming, this season the chill is going to be cold and there's no point in wasting this great atmosphere away. Now, is the time to set up your Badminton court and to set it up well.

Glancin' Back
Playing Badminton in winter is almost a tradition, which goes back hundreds of years. This isn't a joke. The game originated from an Indian game called 'poona' which the British took back to England and inaugurated it there in 1873 by Duke of Beaufort, in his country estate called Badminton. Soon this game spread all over the world and since then there has been no stopping it. Variations of the game did exist such as ti jian zi in China and the jeu de Volant in Europe, however 'poona' was the most popularised form. Though the game isn't as wide spread as before in Dhaka, it is still played in many areas and it is slowly regaining its popularity.

The Set Up
It is relatively easy to set up a badminton court as opposed to a football field and it is also safer than racing on the Mohakhali flyover. The first thing you need is the ideal location. Rooftops, gardens or fields are good locations, but you'll lose shuttlecocks from rooftops and then there's too much wind, gardens get spoiled and the fields attract too many people and you can't refuse everyone.

The street is also a good location but slipping and falling will mean deep gashes and wounds. However, it is still a good location. Specially if you set up your court under a street light, then your lighting problems are solved at least. If parts of your roof or the street are broken, then repair those places with a good mixture of cement, sand and rocks.

This mixture should be evenly spread and smoothed and protected against any sort of pressure. Cement and rocks can be either purchased or borrowed from any of the numerous under construction sites. More likely than not, you will be handed the things with pleasure. It should also be watered at least twice or thrice, after say four to six hours. Any unevenness should also be dealt with. Then you can move on.

Of Mixtures and Measurements
A Google search on measurements of Badminton courts will give you pretty good estimates. However, it is not always easy to follow those directions to the book and thus one needs to adjust the court according to the space available. 'Different courts have different measurements. The difference isn't vast, but it is present nonetheless.' Naimul Alam, a resident of Mohammadpur informs us.

The overall dimension of the court should be 20 feet by 44 feet, with the net in the middle creating a 22 feet by 20 feet area on each side. The short service line is marked six feet by six inches whilst some are also seven feet from the centerline. Then there are the third court variations, once more depending on available space. For more information on measurements visit these links. http://daynamanning.ca/archives/2005/11/the_badminton_c.htm, http://www.sportsknowhow.com/badminton/dimensions/badminton-court-dimensions.html

Manual Labour
Determination backed by hard work will result in a beautiful court. Absence of either element will result in nothing. The teamwork must start even before the game does. Divide your work among your friends and then split the budget. To paint down the outline for the court, you need three pounds of white paint and two bottles of kerosene. That collection will cost around three hundred takas.

To help with your painting, you can buy some ropes. Carefully lay down the ropes and paint over them to get an estimate and then you can fill in the paint later on. Be sure to mix the kerosene properly with the paint, but too much of the latter and your paint won't stick. Chalk powder can also be used to highlight the lines after making trenches of sorts on the ground. This is only applicable if the court is being set up on fields or gardens.

The paint should be applied at night preferably, if done on the road and a second coat needs to be applied the next day for best results. Now, since Badminton is a night time game, you will need lights. Unless you are playing in the presence of a streetlight, it is wise to invest in 4-8 energy saving lights. Preferably eight. The amount of watt depends on the locality. Energy savers cost around Tk. 150-250 and the Phillip's ones are most reliable.

Other bulbs cost around 45-100 takas so one can peruse those as well.

To set up the lights you need to build two boxes with bulb holders, with switches and the works. The holders cost 20 taka each and the boxes can be made within 50 taka each. After that, you need to decide from where you will get the electricity. A friend's house is a good option and if it is three stories high then 25 yards should about cover it. This should cost you in the region of 250-500 takas depending upon quantity and quality. When dealing with electrical works, quality should not be compromised. Getting this and putting them to use requires a lot of manual labour and it is best not to depend on people for these things. Hence the subtitle, 'Manual Labour'.

A feather shuttlecock is the most traditional form, however they cannot be used for more than two or three heavy games. Thus, plastic shuttlecocks are the best ones. They cost about Tk 90-110 each, with 90 being the lowest. Five such shuttlecocks can last two whole months.

Badminton racquets come in numerous prices. An original Yonex can go up as high as 8,500 takas whilst there are one-game racquets, which cost around Tk 100 a pair. But Wish, Rox, Fox and Blest are also good racquets and cost 450-550 takas. They last well and give good performance. Re-stringing a racquet costs 100 takas if you use a fairly good quality string whilst Yonex strings reach 250 takas.

Re-stringing is done at Stadium Market and also at Mohammadpur Town Hall. A set of sneakers and a pair of trousers are also a good investment. 'Playing with trousers on allows one to move more quickly and you don't feel held back by the air.' 20-Year old Shourov informs us.

And Finally…
Once the hard work and money is put in, months of fun are guaranteed. Trust us, the setting up is almost as fun as playing but the latter provides more satisfaction when its done. However, playing badminton is no excuse to give less time to your significant other living far away, so a balance should be maintained. The games can start at night and go on till mid night. Be considerate towards others, while you are playing. And invite others to join you, as this is the best excuse to strengthen relationships within a community.

'I met some really good friends while mooting the idea of Badminton.' Re-calls Shabbir Ahmed. So, make your budget, decide who does what and when and finally you will have a Badminton Court which will soon become the talk of the neighbourhood.

Best of luck!



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