The thrilling Barfoot & Thompson New Zealand Badminton League has gone into action for the first time in 2021 from Tuesday, February 23 at Badminton Waitakere.
The 2021 season is coming back with bigger and better action in the court, new players, teams and venues that the fans had been waiting for a long time.
With a rapid-fire match format, the excitement of 'golden games' and an increased $20,000 prize pool up for grabs, the Barfoot & Thompson NZBL will have sports fans on the edge of their seats.
In Round 1 on Tuesday, February 23, team Tiger brokers Tigers won against Starship Rockets- in which Tigers won by Golden Game.
On Wednesday, February 24, teams Mighty Jazz Apples will play against Plenty Bay Whales at the Badminton Waitakere.
"The NZBL was an absolute highlight in 2020 and showed the huge potential badminton has as a professional sport that delivers exciting entertainment for fans in New Zealand and around the world", says Badminton New Zealand Chief Executive Joe Hitchcock.
"Tens of thousands of Kiwis loved watching the first season of the NZBL, and we know fans are eager to see the best badminton players in New Zealand back on the court."
Barfoot & Thompson has been a long-time supporter of the New Zealand Badminton Open and is also on board for the upcoming BWF World Junior Championships in 2024 and BWF World Senior Championships in 2025.
Managing Director of Barfoot & Thompson, Peter Thompson, described it as a natural decision to add the NZBL to their sponsorship of major badminton events in New Zealand.
"We are very excited about the opportunities this partnership creates for us, for the greater Northland and Auckland region, and one of New Zealand's fastest-growing sports.
"We have been a proud sponsor of Badminton New Zealand for more than five years and have witnessed the joy that the sport brings to athletes and spectators alike. We look forward to welcoming everyone to enjoy this innovative brand of badminton from New Zealand's best players and to showcase our incredible city."
New for 2021, the NZBL will be playing its opening round and Grand Final at the fabulous SKYCITY Theatre, adding yet another dimension to the entertainment opportunities provided to fans.
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 players and exciting new talent. Abhinav Manota is the highest-ranked player to take the court, and he is being 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.
Tokyo Olympic hopeful and three-time Commonwealth Games athlete Oliver Leydon-Davis is eager to compete in the NZBL.
"I'm looking forward to playing the second edition of the NZBL. It's an exciting and different way to play, with the new format bringing the excitement to the fans as well."
It is a sentiment echoed by fellow Badminton New Zealand National Squad member Anona Pak.
"The first season of the NZBL was really fun. It was interesting watching the players grow and develop as the league progressed and we are all determined to do better and to take what we learnt from the first season into the second season. I feel the intensity is going to be there from the first serve."
The 2021 season of the Barfoot & Thompson NZBL launched on February 16 and will bring action-packed badminton to screens around the country every Tuesday and Wednesday night.
Teams will battle through six rounds to culminate in the Barfoot & Thompson NZBL Grand Final on Saturday, May 1 2021, at the SKYCITY Theatre.
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