Fiji Badminton staged their third initiative from their BWF membership grant this month as a group of under-19 players benefitted from a development camp.
The initiative was split between Suva (central division) and Lautoka (western division) – two key bases for regular Shuttle Time delivery in Fiji over the last few years; a popular progressive route taken by many of Fiji’s current national team players.
This year, they attracted 26 players to the camp: 13 male and 13 females. The association welcomed players as young as 14, who had shown significant interest in joining and training for future competitions.
The five-day development camp consisted of 4-hour sessions each day, extending the skills that the juniors had previously learned and developed from their Shuttle Time participation in the years prior, and culminating with a tournament to celebrate the intense week.
Badminton Oceania’s Coaching and Development Manager, Robbie Thackham, worked alongside camp leader, national player and Pacific Games Champion, Andra Whiteside, to create an effective training programme.
“We wanted to keep players (particularly our juniors) interested in playing badminton, after a year of little activity compared to the year before (2019). This will hopefully also get them energised for upcoming national tournaments scheduled for the year and to keep them training and working hard”, says Andra Whiteside.
Over 100 BWF Member Associations received funding from the BWF membership grants Programme, which was activated in 2020. The process began in October, with Members given six months to implement activities to get ‘back into badminton’ following the global health pandemic.
Many of the Pacific Islands managed to withstand lengthy lockdowns, compared to many western nations, with Fiji Badminton implementing a ‘Backyard Badminton’ initiative which involved transporting and delivering Shuttle Time kits to the homes of children and their families to keep them occupied in their garden while the social distancing rules remained.
From October 2020, they were able to return to the court, pouncing straight back into action as they hosted their National Championships in November, before funding a five months long after school programme. The Under 19 development camp was one of their final programmes as part of the BWF membership grant; cementing the nation’s return to court and dedication to finding future talent to maintain the popularity of badminton in Fiji.
Originally, the development camp was a key selection method for the VICTOR Oceania Championships 2021, however the event was unfortunately postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Nonetheless, participants were still able to learn from the event and will no doubt be in contention for the postponed Championships.
“Getting back on court after the year we had in 2020 is great”, said 16-year-old participant, Jared Chung.
“I was disappointed to not be able to compete in the BWF World Junior Championships or the Oceania Championships at the start of this year, so it was nice to have this opportunity to push myself and train harder”, said Chung.