After spending more than two years discussing and planning via Zoom, members of our development team: Nadia Bleaken (based in New Zealand), Ian Bridge (Australia) and KumOn Tarawa (Fiji) were able to meet face-to-face in Fiji over the last ten days.
Meeting with the likes of Badminton Fiji (BF), Fiji National Sports Commission (FNSC), Special Olympics Fiji (SOF) and the National Council for People with Disability (NCPD), the team was able to plan for the future of badminton in Fiji, covering a multitude of areas.
Fiji has the second largest population out of all Pacific Islands, with plenty of scope for further development across the country. Shuttle Time (the grassroots development initiative) is one key method already initiated in Fiji to increase the number of people playing badminton. Frequently delivered in partnership with FNSC, Shuttle Time has already welcomed over 6,700 participants and trained over 60 teachers and youth leaders this year.
Nadia and Ian delivered a Shuttle Time Tutor course and Refresher to the enthusiastic workforce and aspiring new leaders who aim to assist the mission and provide opportunities for more participants to play more regularly. The next steps involve the teachers taking their new skills out to local communities to deliver sessions and establish clubs within those communities, alongside KumOn’s attempt to get Shuttle Time tutors more involved with schools across Suva.
Shuttle Time also plays a pivotal role is Special Olympics, with the equipment and resources being accessible to all. SOF falls within the umbrella of Badminton Oceania’s continued Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Special Olympics Asia Pacific (SOAP) and this trip helped to strengthen ties between all partners to increase opportunities for players with intellectual disabilities.
Badminton is already a popular sport among the special schools, but further opportunities for increased funding to get more equipment (including AirBadminton) were identified and the potential to be part of SOF National Talent Identification Games, which take place on August 6. There are two athlete places for the Special Olympics World Games 2023. The NCPD also initiated plans to develop a three-way MOU with Badminton Fiji and Badminton Oceania to create further opportunities for the 130,000 people living with disabilities in Fiji.
Ian Bridge, who was also the Australian National Coach representative at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, delivered coaching sessions for the nation’s Para badminton players at Vodafone Arena, including Selina Seau who made her international debut at the VICTOR Oceania Para Badminton Championships 2020 and will be looking to put her developed skills into practice at this year’s Continental Championships too (29-31 July 2022).
Additionally, Ian delivered the Foundation coaching course to 12 new coaches to improve their badminton knowledge, skills and confidence leading groups. The course opens pathways for ongoing development, with the next stage being coaches undertaking the BWF Level 1 Coaching qualification – a key component for the development of Fiji’s players.
Additional to these exciting development, there is an exciting year ahead for Badminton Fiji in 2022 as they look to deliver their National Championships once again, revitalize the Fiji Open (including Para badminton), deliver a national school tournament and send delegates to the BWF-Badminton Oceania Capacity Building Workshop in December to increase resource within the organisation.
“Strategically, Fiji is an important country geographically with most member countries being able to fly directly to Fiji. Therefore, the member association has huge potential for growth across all programme areas. Following the last two years, it has been great to reconnect and discuss the future of badminton in Fiji. We look forward to collaborating further with Badminton Fiji and all involved partners to enhance the sport’s presence. ”, says Nadia Bleaken.
Follow Badminton Fiji and Shuttle Time Fiji Facebook pages for the latest updates from Fiji.