Now, IPL-type Indian Badminton League NEW DELHI: Call it the Saina effect. Badminton is all set to take a superfast shuttle to new heights with the launch of the Indian Badminton League (IBL), a million-dollar event which could change of the face of the sport worldwide. The IBL, based on a franchise model and tentatively scheduled to be held from January 20 to February 11 next year, would have $1 million (approx Rs 5.5 crore) as prize money, the highest for any badminton tournament in the world, sources close to the event told TOI on Tuesday. Encouraged by the reaction of the public as well as that of sponsors to the success of Indian players, particularly Saina Nehwal, in recent times, the Badminton Association of India (BAI) has planned to hold the event more or less on the lines of the Indian Premier League. Sources said the event, which will have six city-based franchises, would try to rope in top players from countries like China, South Korea, Singapore and Malaysia and other country with "hefty appearance fees". Former India stars like Pullela Gopichand and Pradeep Gandhe are part of the governing council of the IBL which has BAI's president Akhilesh Das Gupta as chairman. Badminton legend Prakash Padukone has been approached to come on board as an advisor. BAI has asked Sporty Solutionz Pvt Limited to plan and execute the event. Sources said the IBL organizers are planning to rope in Bollywood stars like Aamir Khan and Deepika Padukone, daughter of Prakash, besides former cricketer Sunil Gavaskar, a former member of the IPL governing council. "Aamir is known to be an avid badminton fan and has always encouraged Saina (Nehwal), while Deepika not only carries the famous Padukone surname but was a state-level player herself," sources said. They added that Aamir was most likely to be offered the 'brand ambassador' role for IBL and Deepika will most probably be one of the city-based franchisee owners. "Gavaskar is being approached to play a big role in the IBL." When contacted, IBL governing council member Gandhe, who's the president of Maharashtra Badminton Association, the nodal agency for the event, told TOI that he was not aware of details for the event since Sporty Solutionz Pvt Limited was in charge of executing it. "We are holding this tournament with some goals in mind. First, it's aimed at creating more and more opportunities for Indian players. Then, it will help participation of top players in India which is good for the sport in the country. It will also help upcoming players as they would be getting a chance to play the world's top stars," said Gandhe, winner of two bronze medals in the 1982 Asian Games. Times View The launch of a badminton league along the lines of the IPL is a most welcome development. Along with the fact that India had its largest haul of medals at the recent Olympics, it is a sign of the fact that the country is beginning to make strides in sports other than cricket. For any sports lover, that is good news. None of the sports should be seen as competing with each other. On the contrary, the more a variety of sports flourish, the more each will get enriched by a genuine culture of sports and physical fitness, as the Australian example illustrates so well.