10 years – Happy Anniversary, Badzine!

Badzine had its start in the summer of 2003 and we are still going strong, with so many changes along the way, for us and for the badminton world. Photos: […]

Badzine had its start in the summer of 2003 and we are still going strong, with so many changes along the way, for us and for the badminton world.

Photos: Badmintonphoto

I can’t believe it.  Ten years already!  In August 2003, for the then IBF World Championships, my dear friend Jeff and I decided to start some sort of badminton blog – an “online” badminton magazine – which was, at the time, quite “avant-gardiste”.  This French-language undertaking was to become the first version of Badzine.  Just for fun, with no intention of making it a big deal.

At the time, the main reason behind this new website was that the French Federation had very little information on their official website.  They are doing a great job now, but at the time, Badzine quickly became the first website visited by French fans.  We had news first (like CNN, right?), with live photos.

Later, when it started growing faster and faster, Germany joined the team, with my friends Manuel Rosler and Sven Heise doing a magnificent job keeping it running until now.  And then, Badzine International was born, in 2006.  Soon after, a lot of great people joined this website (www.badzine.net), which was to become one of the leading websites of the badminton world.

As you may know (though many readers may not), Badzine is run by volunteers.  I, myself, in 10 years, have not made one single dollar out of this website – it’s probably cost me quite a lot, but it’s nothing compared to the fun and joy I’ve had covering so many tournaments.  And it’s my “baby” after all.

But I’d like to pay tribute to all those who spend a lot of time working hard for Badzine, for free.  Most are university students, young reporters, or just badminton fans who want to be part of the team and help others understand the game better.  We try to send reporters on site when we can – with the little benefits that we have with ads online, but it’s always tough because we have to rely only on volunteers, who have other things to do.

One man, however, has made a huge difference for Badzine – my friend Don Hearn, a living badminton encyclopaedia, who is constantly updating the website, fact-checking, correcting our problems with written English.  He will probably touch up this article as he has done for most of the articles, written by anglophones and polyglots alike.  Don has a full time job – teaching English at a university in Korea – but nevertheless, spends most of his free time for Badzine.

It is quite amazing and if it weren’t for Don – and for a lot of other contributors – Badzine would not exist anymore, as I myself do not have as much time to devote to Badzine as in the past.  This is what happened to the French version, where now only a Facebook page remains, as no one had the time to update the full website.

But yes, Badzine wouldn’t be what it is without all these crazy people in France and then around the world. Arnaud, the designer of the logo, then all the amazing writers and video editors – Loic, Olivier, Yves, Mark, Jan, Tarek, EeLyn, Aaron, Leslie, Anthony, Serla, Lee Anne, Miyuki, Emzi, Adrian, Elm, Janusz, Altania, Ira, Shaline, Pearlyn, Suet Yan, Dev, Kira, Timothy, Gerald, Michael, Kevin, and others I probably forget but who were just as important (sorry guys, so many people helped out!)

10 years is a long time but it flew by so quickly.  I remember being a young reporter and presenting Badzine to top players, and, to my surprise, most English speakers already knew about it.  This is probably our biggest reward, to be acknowledged by the best players in the world.  Some of these I was fortunate enough to become close friends with: Pi Hongyan, of course, who became  my best friend on the circuit, but others that I really enjoy being around, such as Peter Gade, Nathan Robertson, Greysia Polii, Kaveh Mehrabi, Taufik Hidayat and Lee Chong Wei.

I’ve covered 6 World Championships for Badzine, and two Olympic Games, along with so many other tournaments.  Sometimes, my first draughts did not make much sense as I was often trying to write articles after my 12 or 14 hours of shooting photos, but I loved it.

Standing courtside behind a camera, capturing great moments of sport is one thing – it’s great.  But nothing beats getting the players’ emotions on ‘film’ and then getting them on ‘paper’ or on ‘tape’, when you talke to them immediately afterward.

Getting the players to tell their stories, to tell us about their lives, this is what we have to do, and going hand in hand with that is earning their trust.  Of course, Badzine would have had several scoops over the years if we had published all we knew about players’ private lives, but we take pride into being sports journalists, and not gossip reporters.  Everyone has the right to have their private life, and I think the players know this and trust Badzine reporters to keep quiet when it matters.

We often get news before the mainstream press, because players trust us and share their news with us, or because we have a multilingual staff of volunteers scattered about the globe.  We try to publish articles right away, when we can, but it is not always easy because once again, we all have our daily jobs to focus on.

We are reporters who voice our concerns, though, too.  We say when we feel things are not right.  We’ve been quoted many times by AFP, Reuters and other big agencies when something happens, because we want the best for the sport.  Of course, we all have players we like to see win, but above all, I want the game to be fair.  This I why, at times, I have published editorials on match fixing, on the players whom I feel sorry for because they are not the ones in control, and on the clashes between countries’ goals and the sport’s values.

That’s 10 years of incredible experience.  In 10 years, the game has changed so drastically.  When we began in 2003, China held only one of the three major badminton team Cups.   So many of the top players of that time are now occupying the coaches’ chairs behind the courts these days.

Matches had not long before been returned to 15 points after a brief experiment with a 7-point system.  Those were lo-o-o-ong matches, but exciting ones.  I’m glad the change to the present 21-point rally system was made.  I think it’s for the best.  Now, so many matches have tense, exciting finishes.  In fact, the matches could become even shorter, like the Indian League is trying right now.

The status of the sport has changed, too.  Tournaments are set up better, putting on a real show and not just a sports tournament.  The Badminton World Federation (BWF) has done a great job lifting up the sport and bringing in extra cash.

Not only the tournament backdrops and logos, but also the players themselves look different.  There is a greater variety of brands in uniforms.  The shorts are longer.  There are fewer buttoned collars, fewer sleeves, and more tattoos.

Athletes have become more professional, too.  It shows, in their relationships with media as well.  I feel lucky, because most of them treat me as they used to, and try to help me whenever they can.  I appreciate that very much and I feel privileged, somehow.  Of course, it is partly because I have known them for so long that they know my face and know I can be trusted – as can my team of reporters.

I don’t think I could single out my best moments in 10 years of reporting for Badzine.  Wait.  Maybe I can think of a few.  That night when my friend surprised me and invited me to have dinner and go see a movie with Lin Dan and Xie Xingfang was just great.  And then there was the time I took Peter Gade to a nice French restaurant on the side of the French Open.

I’ll never forget the sleepless nights doing editing for our news channel for the Paris World Championships, with my French gang, or seeing the world all over again with my colleagues from China, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Denmark or England.  These are all priceless moments.

I think that’s it.  That’s what I cherish the most in these past 10 years as the Chief Editor of Badzine: meeting extraordinary people, from top stars who wow the crowds to students who come and help us; learning how amazing the world is, thanks to all these travels, these encounters with different people.

And of course, my last thank you should be to all of you who follow us on Badzine.  You give this website life, with your comments, your questions in our live chats, your votes on our Badzine polls, your “likes” on our articles and on our Facebook page.  You are the reason why we spend so much time behind our computers, trying to make what we see sound as interesting as it is!

So, thank you again for joining us in celebrating Badzine’s 10th anniversary and I hope we can continue to deliver the badminton news to the world for at least another 10 years!

Raphaël Sachetat
Badzine Chief Editor

Raphaël Sachetat

About Raphaël Sachetat

Raphael is the Chief Editor of Badzine International. He is the founder of the website together with Jean François Chauveau. After many years writing for the BWF and many publications around the world about badminton, he now leads a team of young and dynamic writers for Badzine.