The Badminton World Federation (BWF) is responsible for promoting badminton with the goal of broadening the audience base. It also caters to the needs of its member associations and organizes events in a way that makes the sport a thrill to watch. As the international regulatory body for badminton, the BWF also provides Olympic representation for the sport. Lastly, central to the BWF’s contributions to badminton is its role in developing the sport.
Over the years, the BWF has been at the helm of the sport’s development. Its oversight is pivotal to the unification of the sport’s rules, regulations, and the world ranking of players.
In this post, we go into the details of the BWF’s role in the sport.
Who Makes Up the Badminton World Federation?
The Badminton World Federation (BWF) consists of 198 member associations. These member associations are grouped into continental confederations. Every confederation consists of a group of member associations grouped by continent.
Badminton Asia is the confederation for the Asian continent. As of January 2021, it has 43 associations grouped by region.
Likewise, Badminton Pan Am is the confederation for the Americas. The confederation includes member associations in North America and South America, consisting of 37 member associations.
There are three other confederations for the sport. In Europe, Badminton Europe is the confederation for its 53 member associations.
Africa also has its own confederation in the Badminton Confederation of Africa (BCA) consisting of 44 member associations.
Lastly, there’s Badminton Oceania with membership associations in countries like Australia, Papua New Guinea, the Northern Marianas, and the founding nation, New Zealand. As of December 2022, 17 associations are members of Badminton Oceania.
According to the BWF’s corporate page, when an association becomes a BWF member, it automatically becomes part of a continental confederation.
What Does the Badminton World Federation Do?
As mentioned earlier, the BWF promotes and develops the sport of badminton, alongside enabling players to play in the Olympics. The BWF is badminton’s international regulatory body, organizing events and serving the needs of member associations. Lastly, but surely not least, the BWF is the reason badminton players take part in the Olympics.
The above-mentioned responsibilities guide the day-to-day operations of the BWF. To achieve the aforementioned goals, the BWF does its best to perform the following:
Provide Opportunities for Badminton Participation
No sport grows without participation. As the BWF recognizes this, one of the ways it fulfills its role is by encouraging people to try and play badminton. This opportunity isn’t just for the able-bodied; the BWF also opens Para badminton for those with disabilities.
With badminton and Para badminton available, everyone can try the sport regardless of their circumstances. The BWF encourages everyone to try the sport but is particularly enthusiastic about opening it to children.
Other than promoting equal access to the sport, the BWF also aims to bridge the gap between recreational badminton and its professional play. For this reason, the BWF holds events for enthusiasts to break into competitive badminton.
With its role in the international badminton community, the BWF makes ties with other associations or organizations that can help provide opportunities to players. According to BWF Corporate, partnerships are seen as ways to improve the ability of the governing body to open badminton to everyone.
Strategic partnerships are important for the BWF to improve its organizational capacity.
Improve Organizational Capacity
Organizational capacity means the BWF’s ability to implement its strategies to promote badminton internationally. Organizational capacity allows the BWF to support its continental confederations and member associations in organizing events and developing the game on the ground.
The BWF works to improve its abilities to support its members and confederations. This way, badminton remains to be a game enjoyed by many under unified rules and in exciting tournaments.
Provide the Right Environment for Athletic Participation and Development
Badminton athletes at the highest level need places to train and enough competitions to hone and prove their skills. This is where the BWF comes in. Through its member associations, the BWF offers athletes the right environments to train for athletic development.
The BWF also assists athletes by establishing guidelines about the right environments for play. Also part of the BWF’s responsibilities to athletes is its role in assisting players in creating for themselves a media profile. In other words, the BWF helps by being a platform upon which athletes can be known as sports personalities, growing their reputation and careers in badminton.
Speaking of environment, the BWF, in collaboration with the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) launched AirBadminton in 2019 to enable a badminton-like sport to be more accessible worldwide. AirBadminton is played with a unique version of a shuttlecock called the AirShuttle which can weather environmental factors like wind. The BWF actively seeks out ways to expand the reach of badminton in various ways, shapes, and forms!
Make Games Exciting and Open To View for a Worldwide Audience
Besides participation, spectatorship is another key factor for the growth of any sport. This is why the BWF engages crowds with exciting matches and well-organized events.
With audiences going online these days, the BWF also adds publicity for games and events for a variety of digital platforms. Whether it’s social media or anywhere online, no online space is off-touch for the BWF.
Events held by the BWF are always exciting and widely publicized.
One of the ways the BWF attempted to make the sport even more exciting for its spectator by experimenting with a best of 5 games to 11 points match format.
What Are the Main Events Organized by the Badminton World Federation?
The BWF holds badminton events ranked into a three-tier system. These events are grade 1, 2, 3, and there are also junior events. Events are arranged into different tiers or levels in varying degrees of international competition and prestige. According to the BWF, the higher the level of an event, the higher the prize money.
Junior events or tournaments are more like entry-level events held at the level of member associations. If you want to break into the world of competitive badminton, here’s where you start. Junior events, according to the BWF site, are:
- Junior International Grand Prix
- Junior International Challenge
- Junior International Series
- Junior Future Series
Higher up the tier system are grade 3 and grade 2 events. Grade 3 events are where players can begin earning prize money and more ranking points. Grade 3 events occur at the continental confederation level.
When it comes to big money, nothing beats grade 2 events held by the BWF. Prize money for tournaments like the HSBC BWF World Tour can range from $150,000 to $1.5 million.
The highest level of events are grade 1 events comprising of the following:
- BWF World Championships
- Thomas Cup (BWF World Men’s Team Championships)
- Uber Cup (BWF World Women’s Team Championships)
- Sudirman Cup (BWF World Team Championships)
- Suhandinata Cup (BWF World Junior Team Championships)
- Eye Level Cups (BWF World Junior Championships)
- BWF World Senior Championships
There’s no prize money for these events. However, these events award players the most ranking points.
In addition to money, players who compete and win at these events also earn more points for the badminton world rankings. With enough points, a player can represent his or her country in the pinnacle of all sports — the Olympics.
The BWF grows the popularity of badminton all over the world by also holding and officiating events.
What Major Changes Has the BWF Had on Badminton?
Since its founding in 1934, the BWF has changed the way badminton is played several times in the sport’s storied history. Many of the changes came in the form of new scoring rules adopted to make games more exciting. Changes have been made recently, but they haven’t been implemented yet.
The BWF has changed the scoring rules before. The scoring rule that most (if not all) events follow today are the rules adopted in 2006. The 2006 changes are the reason behind the 21-point best-of-three scoring system in games today. As well, the BWF has introduced the rally point system so that players can score regardless of who served.
In May 2021, the BWF began a move towards a five-match, race-to-11 scoring system. According to Scroll, players had to now win three out of five sets or games to win a match. Instead of 21, 11 points will be the target score for each game, capping at 15. While the BWF experimented with this scoring change, it was not ultimately adopted.
According to Sportsbeezer, these proposed changes can add to the games’ spectacle by making matches shorter. The added fan engagement from the new pace of the game can bring more income to players. In addition, since games will be shorter, the chances of player injuries can decrease.
Of course, the newly proposed scoring system isn’t without its drawbacks. Hendra Setiawan points out that while the new scoring system aids in energy preservation, there will be a change in the game’s focus.
The original plan was to implement the new scoring system in various levels of tournaments. The goal was to test the viability of the new scoring system on the ground. However, at the time of writing, the scoring system is still not in effect, with games still following the 2006 best-of-three 21-point rule.
When Was the Badminton World Federation Formed?
Sure, what we call badminton today has been around since the late 1800s, despite only earning the name in 1873 in Gloucestershire. With a game turning into a sport, oversight and regulation was a must. Hence, on July 5, 1934, the International Badminton Federation (IBF)was formed. After a merger in 1981, the IBF became the BWF. Since then, the BWF has grown from nine member countries to 198.
Back during the BWF’s (formerly the IBF) inception, only nine countries were members. These countries were Canada, Denmark, England, France, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and New Zealand.
The Role of the BWF: To Keep the Fire of Badminton Burning
Ultimately, the BWF exists to not just maintain badminton’s popularity, but to ultimately grow it. It does this by providing avenues for participation governed by a set of rules the body changes for the benefit of the sport.
A combination of roles makes the BWF the wind that lights the fire of badminton, with fans and athletes being the fuel that keeps the flame of badminton alive.
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