Padukone for international competition

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Padukone said Indian shuttlers must face international competition at home and if they were 'scared', they should quit the game altogether.

Updated: February 25, 2007 10:04 IST
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Former badminton ace Prakash Padukone said Indian shuttlers must face international competition at home and if they were 'scared', they should quit the game altogether. The former champion was throwing his weight behind the Badminton Association of India's decision to allow players from South East Asia to take part in three prize-money tournaments in India. "You have to be tough from a young age. You have to be prepared. If you are scared, then don't play," the badminton legend said, strongly defending the move to have foreign players compete in Indian tournaments. 'No disadvantage Padukone totally negated the perception that foreign participation would put Indian youngsters in a disadvantageous position in terms of advancing their career quickly, as they might be knocked out in early stages of the tournaments. "I personally feel that it's good for the game in the long run. I am all for it," he said. "You get to play better players. You become tough. At some stage or other, you have to beat them (foreign players). You should be happy (that you are getting to play foreign players to play at home)". Otherwise, he said, Indian players, with the same style, get to play only amongst themselves. "But when you go abroad, they play a different style. You get to play against them at an early age. You can plan your career accordingly. You should not be scared to face them. You should not look at it from a negative angle." Pointing out that India does send juniors abroad to play, Padukone asked: "(in that scenario) can you say give me only weak players; and not strong ones? If you say like that, where is the competition? Any kind of foreign exposure, whether at home or abroad, I am all for it," Padukone said. "You spend so much money to send Indian players outside and when you get these foreign players here, so many more will get the opportunity," the former All England Champion said. Exciting proposition Padukone recalled that when he was a 15-year-old and the national junior champion, he faced the then world champion, Rudi Hartano. "I was excited at the idea (of facing Hartano). I took it as a challenge. I said I want to play against him. I am thankful to BAI for making me play against him. I was not scared. I did not say what will happen to my selection he is the world champion. "I welcomed the idea. I learnt a lot from that match," Padukone said. He, however, said that though the BAI had decided to invite players from SEA to play here, he did not know how many would actually make it. "It's very unlikely that they will come on their own. Things like accommodation and airfare may have to be taken care of," he said adding top Malaysian players might not come. At the most, it could be Malaysian juniors who are likely to come and play in India. (PTI)

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