Written by | 01 November 2010
The beginnings of Badminton can be traced to mid-18th century British India, where it was created by British military officers stationed there. Early photographs show Englishmen adding a net to the traditional English game of battledore and shuttlecock. Being particularly popular in the British garrison town Poona (now Pune), the game also came to be known as Poona. Initially, balls of wool refereed as ball badminton were preferred by the upper classes in windy or wet conditions, but ultimately the shuttlecock stuck. This game was taken by retired officers back to England where it developed and rules were set out.
As early as 1860, Isaac Spratt, a London toy dealer, published a booklet, Badminton Battledore – a new game, but unfortunately no copy has survived.
The new sport was definitively launched in 1873 at the Badminton House, Gloucestershire, owned by the Duke of Beaufort. During that time, the game was referred to as “The Game of Badminton,” and the game’s official name became Badminton.
Until 1887, the sport was played in England under the rules that prevailed in British India. The Bath Badminton Club standardized the rules and made the game applicable to English ideas. The basic regulations were drawn up in 1887. In 1893, the Badminton Association of England published the first set of rules according to these regulations, similar to today’s rules, and officially launched badminton in a house called “Dunbar” at 6 Waverley Grove, Portsmouth, England on September 13 of that year. They also started the All England Open Badminton Championships, the first badminton competition in the world, in 1899.
The International Badminton Federation (IBF) (now known as Badminton World Federation) was established in 1934 with Canada, Denmark, England, France, the Netherlands, Ireland, New Zealand, Scotland, and Wales as its founding members. India joined as an affiliate in 1936. The BWF now governs international badminton and develops the sport globally.
While set out in England, competitive badminton in Europe has traditionally been dominated by Denmark. Indonesia, South Korea, China and Malaysia are among the nations that have consistently produced world-class players in the past few decades and dominated competitions on the international level, with China being the most dominant in recent years.