Taapsee Pannu is the first celebrity owner of a Premier Badminton League team. Few would know that the Indian film star’s association and love for the game goes far beyond the co-ownership of the Pune 7 Aces. Her courtship with the badminton has started with the launch of Badminton Association of India’s commercial league way back in 2013.
Over the years, she has been a prominent face at badminton events in the country. Her love for the game is no secret.
So passionate is the Delhi girl about badminton that at the peak of her film career she has an absolute commitment towards the sport. This was evident when she confessed to spend the Christmas and the New Year with her PBL team Pune 7 Aces. This is the time of the year when the film industry liaise and come together over parties and top stars charge millions of rupees for a single performance. For Taapsee, PBL is the priority.
Way back in 2013 when Sporty Solutionz had launched the Indian Badminton League as the commercial partners of the Badminton Association of India, Taapsee was present at almost all the Hyderabad Hotshots matches as the celebrity face of the team. Ever since, her passion and love for the game is no secret. Yet to find fame in the Hindi cinema, Taapsee enjoyed a star status in the Telugu film industry even then. However, for the commitment to a friend and love for the game she had given a preference her passion over profession.
A pro entrepreneur in the sport now, Taapsee still enjoys her “intense fan moments” more than setting up any immediate major financial or commercial goals. In an exclusive interview with InsideSport.co, the sports entrepreneur and film star shared her love for the league and the sport of badminton. Here are the excerpts:
InsideSport: This is your second direct association with the league. In the first year when the league was launched as the Indian Badminton League, you have been the celebrity face of the Hyderabad Hotshots. Now you are a team owner. How will you define the two roles?
Taapsee Pannu: Hyderabad Hotshots was owned by a very dear friend of mine. I was there to support them. I was not officially signed as a brand ambassador though. They knew I love sports and badminton, so they asked me to be there for all their matches and tried to be there for as many as possible.
Pune 7 Aces is my baby. I have been a part of its making process from scratch. So it’s very, very dear to me. It’s a different feeling altogether. That was my brush with the league, but it’s like I am all in.
IS: As a sports entrepreneur what are you commercial goals?
TP: My commercial goal as of now is to get the best of sponsors for my team so that it is positioned at a very good level nationally. But apart from that it is all passion driven. I really want each and every person in India to know that there is this team, to know who are the team members and we are part of this league. It is basically that I want more and more people to know more about badminton.
IS: Did you ever think that your association with sports will grow as deep as we see it now?
TP: I was always inclined towards sports. Badminton is a very intense sport. If you watch it live it can give you a very high adrenalin rush. This is exciting and addictive. I never thought that I will one day own a team. It was something new to me as I had never planned or thought about it. However, when I have got into it, I feel I am capable of doing it.
IS: You have said you will be there to support and cheer you team on the Christmas and the New Year. Is it just an intense fan moment or a serious commercial call of an entrepreneur?
TP: It was a fan moment. I never really thought that commercially how lucrative it will be. If at all, the commercial success will come in the longer run. It is just a passion and the feel of doing something for sports, if I can. It is like being associated with something that you admired for long.
IS: One message for your fans.
TP: I wish all my fans a very, very Happy New Year. I will urge them to promote and support the sport of badminton, my team and the league.
I call badminton the family sport of India. Almost all Indians would have played this sport at least once – on the streets, with the family and friends. It is one sport that all of us have tried our hands on. This is one sport that every Indian can really relate to. I really want my country to own up badminton now. We really love cricket a lot. It’s good that other sports are also growing. Badminton certainly deserves more attention than what it gets. It is our sport. We all must know its historical connect with India that it began here. It is high time we start owning it up and we start cheering for our teams and promote this sport at a larger scale in India.
This interview was facilitated by the Artsmith-Concepts & Visions director and veteran sports journalist Udia Dutta. The Premier Badminton League over the years has grown from the first major professional venture that had six teams in the inaugural year to a nine-team pro league, the biggest for badminton anywhere in the world, with Sportzlive Entertainment in the driver’s seat for commercial operations.