Indian badminton mired in fake birth certificate racket

HYDERABAD: Strange it may sound, but in an age when almost all babies are born in hospitals, 50 percent of the badminton players in our country were born elsewhere. While a majority of parents claim they were born at home, some were born even in auto-rickshaws!

In a rich man's sport that badminton is - every parent spends Rs 200 per day only on shuttlecocks - almost half the participants in any age group tournament in the country claim that their birth did not take place in a hospital but some place else.

At least their birth certificates say so. Needless to say, it is a ploy employed by parents in a bid to hide the real age of their kids so that they can compete in lower age groups.

What is even more surprising is that some of the shuttlers have even obtained passports on the basis of these certificates and represented the country at international tournaments.

Ever since registration of births was made mandatory in India in 1969, births of children born in hospitals get automatically registered. But in case of those born out of hospitals or those whose birth could not be registered within a period of one year from birth for some reason, the rule book says that they should go to a magistrate court, submit an affidavit and obtain a birth certificate.

This has become a loophole exploited by many who seek to conceal their age for different reasons. And like in most sports, parents of badminton players too are exploiting this. Several popular junior players are alleged to have been playing in lower age groups with the help of such certificates.

Some aggrieved parents have managed to obtain the original certificates of some of these players, which obviously are different from the ones submitted by them to Badminton Association of India (BAI). Consequently, a junior player Deetya Jagdish has been suspended for two years following the confession of her parents.

As per the documents available with TOI, the year of birth and the year of registration are quite different in case of many players. In the case of a couple of players who played at the junior nationals, the gap between the year of birth and year of registration is about 10 years! It is surprising how they have joined reputed schools without producing a birth certificate.

To eradicate this fake certificate menace, parents are suggesting that only those players whose year of birth and year of registration are same should be allowed to compete in age group tournaments and the rest should be made to play in the open category.

A BAI official told TOI on condition of anonymity that many age group violations have been noticed. "We were not able to act against them as many of them are related to our officials or belong to some big academies. Moreover, we cannot reject a certificate given by the magistrate. BAI will come up with something concrete in our next AGM but I doubt we can catch the cheats," he said.

Chief coach of Indian badminton, Pullela Gopichand, said it is high time this menace is eradicated. "These things need to be addressed. It is a complicated issue but it is unfair to allow an older player to compete against a younger one. We need to correct this soon," he said.


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