Here it is, the dawn of 2017 and the beginning of a new year and here are my 10 cents as I celebrate Badzine’s 10-year anniversary by wishing our international readers a Happy New Year for the 10th time.
By Raphael Sachetat. Photos: Badmintonphoto
Little did I know, when my dear friend Jeff and I first started Badzine in France, in 2003, that this little online media outlet was to become one of the leaders of its kind on the planet badminton. We were too humble – still are – to have imagined that it was the beginning of what would become such a long journey of friendship, of incredible experiences – in a mixed zone, behind a camera, or in front of a computer or TV screen – spending such a long time following the amazing players that rule our sport.
For Badzine’s international version, it all started in the fall of 2006, for Madrid’s World Championships. The French version was quite successful, so we figured that we could push our luck and try to go live for the rest of the world. 10 years later, I must say how proud I am that so much has been achieved, with so many tournaments covered, numbers crunched, profiles published, even if Badzine has not made a single penny – not one yuan, yen, won, rupiah, or sen – and still relies 100% on voluntary work. The richness is beyond money – as is so often the case in our sport anyways!
It would take pages and pages to talk about all the amazing times we’ve had with the team, meeting all around the planet. I am so proud of the achievement of all those who started as writers for Badzine and have become the best in their field later on, using our little platform to let the world know how talented they are: amongst them my dear friends Dev Sukumar, now working full time for the BWF, or Mark Phelan, a man of so many talents, who is now behind the commentary, articles and photos for Badminton Europe
It’s been a challenge for all those who have contributed to so many amazing stories that Badzine told its readers, interviewing, researching, and writing on their own time, often in a language other than their mother tongue. I am proud how we’ve kept our integrity, how we’ve followed the rules of ethical journalism at all times, keeping confidential what the players didn’t want us to share, respecting their privacy and always asking for permission to use quotes heard while having a private conversation. Because of that sense of ethics, Badzine’s reporters have gained confidence from players and sometimes become close friends with them – a priceless reward. We’ve always kept our promise to use only content – photos, videos, etc. – that we were allowed to. In this way, we have kept our head above many other in the media which unscrupulously use the work of others without authorization or financial compensation. We’ve always tried to be fair and bring in arguments to our articles in order to contribute to the development of the sport in a constructive way.
On a personal note, I will always remember the precious times we’ve shared with other Badzine journalists on site, covering long days, or simply conversations that took place on Facebook or by email during all those other working hours. It’s hard to pick out just one or two times from these past 10 years on the circuit as a reporter for Badzine – there are just so many memories.
As a whole, I’d say that the friendships I’ve developed with players, officials, staff and fellow journalists/photographers (from Badzine and other media) is what makes it all worth it. But if I were to pin two examples, I’ll take two extremes + one bonus. One was when my dear friend Pi Hongyan narrowly lost her quarter-final of the Olympics in Beijing in 2008, in her “former” country, China, against the repeat Olympic champion-to-be Zhang Ning, after a very intense match. She had kept her composure all the way through the mixed zone, answering questions from the media with professionalism. But when she reached my spot at the end of the mixed zone, I couldn’t think of any question. I was feeling so sad and empathy took over from professionalism and we broke into tears in each others’ arms. I was no longer the reporter – just her friend, sharing this painful yet precious moment in a buoyant hall, with noisy spectators still celebrating their hero.
A second memory of these past 10 years jumps to mind. It was last year, in Jakarta, during the World Championships, when Don and I (together with Loic labouring behind the camera before spending most of the night editing) had tried to bring in some novelty by actually doing live video clips. One night, we were so tired that our “end-of-day” summary turned into a 45-minute laughter session. We couldn’t start talking, facing the camera, without bursting into laughter. My stomach was hurting so much. I can’t even remember when I’ve laughed so hard and for so long, and for no specific reason as I can’t even remember what triggered it all. This was another precious moment that I’ll cherish, even more since it was shared with two of my closest friends, amongst which Don, who is the man that has actually run Badzine for so long now. I may have kept the title of “Chief Editor” but let’s be honest: he is the one that makes Badzine work today while I share my time and passion with my work as a photographer and my voluntary work for Solibad. I must thank him – and dear readers, you should too – for all the amazing work he’s put into this website and overall human adventure for us all.
I’ll keep that last “anecdote” for last, but it may be the one I’m the most proud of. It goes back to the pre-Badzine days. I’ve told this story a few times, but hey, journalists like to brag once in a while, right? I do, at least! It was in 2000 at the World Junior Championships in Guangzhou. After a semi-final that was lost by a certain Lin Dan (pictured), I had a feeling that it was not the last I would see of him, so I asked for an interpreter and went to talk to him.
He was shy and told me I was the first foreign reporter he was talking to and wondered why I was not talking to his compatriot Bao Chunlai, who had beaten him. I felt that day that there was something unique about this young boy. I called him in my article – for the IBF then – “Super Dan” – it was the first time anyone had given him this nickname and I would keep referring to him as SuperDan as years went by in the many articles I would write about him. It soon became his official nickname all over the world, even in his home country. Each time I see this epithet written in the press, I feel lucky that I was able to talk to him that day, learn about his ambition, his life as a teenager, and see that I was not wrong when I felt he would become a badminton legend.
To end up this 10-year anniversary article, and to start out the new year of 2017, I’d like to thank all the contributors who have joined us at Badzine, either on site, or behind their computers, trying to share their passion for the sport through words. I know it can be quite frustrating not to get any comments from readers or any form of recognition after such hard work but believe me, you’ve done your share of making this sport bigger and more enjoyable to many, many people. Including me.