New Zealand’s best badminton players will be back on court in June as the innovative LearnCoach New Zealand Badminton League takes flight for the first time. With four exciting new franchise teams, a rapid-fire match format and $15,000 NZD up for grabs, the LearnCoach NZBL will have sport fans on the edge of their seats.
"This is a silver lining to the challenges of COVID-19. We have crafted an opportunity for our top New Zealand players to compete at home in a radically new concept for a badminton event," says Badminton New Zealand Chief Executive Joe Hitchcock.
We’re excited about bringing something different to sports fans and in partnering with LearnCoach, SKY Sport and the New Zealand Sport Collective we’re confident that the NZBL will be a game changer.
Tex Teixeira, Sky’s Chief Content Officer says, "We’re so excited Sky Sport is part of this innovative new tournament. The Badminton New Zealand team has put so much work into getting this competition off the ground for their leading Kiwi female and male players, and we’re behind them 100% as they do their bit to get sport back up in Aotearoa."
The LearnCoach NZBL will launch with an interactive team draft where each of the four franchises will draw a Badminton New Zealand Performance Coach, followed by a draft order. The coaches will consult the franchisees in building their team, by selecting their preferred player group to compete for the inaugural league championship. The new league starts at 7pm on the 16th June, bringing action-packed badminton to TV screens around the country every Tuesday and Wednesday night for seven weeks, culminating in the LearnCoach NZBL Championship Grand Final on Wednesday 29th July.
Tokyo Olympic hopeful and three-time Commonwealth Games athlete Oliver Leydon-Davis is eager to compete in the NZBL.
I can’t wait to get back into competitive badminton and this is such a unique and different way to play the new format. I think it will be a hit with fans – especially being able to watch it twice a week on SKY.
It is a sentiment echoed by fellow Badminton NZ National Squad Member and mixed doubles partner Anona Pak.
"I missed badminton so much and it’s great to be able to refocus now on a new goal and a new opportunity – it will be fun competing against the best in NZ and the intensity is going to be there from the first serve."
Twenty-four of New Zealand’s best badminton players have been selected to compete in the NZBL and there is a diverse mix of established and fresh-faced players. Abhinav Manota will be the highest BWF ranked player to take the court, but he will be joined by many others currently sitting inside the world’s best 100 players. The NZBL plays an important role for players who cannot currently compete overseas in BWF sanctioned events.
Thanks to the generous contribution from badminton stalwarts John Wong and Ian Willans, the LearnCoach NZBL will boast a prize purse of $15,000 NZD. This adds even more incentive for players to fight tooth and nail for the LearnCoach NZBL Champions title that will determine the best of the best.
Only one team will hoist the ‘President’s Cup’ on the 29th July, but all badminton fans will be the winners with this exciting new concept coming to life. We look forward to sharing further updates including the Franchise Team announcement, the NZBL Draft and the NZBL Schedule.
The matches will air on Sky Sport 9 and on the Sky Sport Next YouTube channel.
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