Pictured: Sandra Low, Guam National Badminton Federation (left) and Nadia Bleaken, Badminton Oceania (right)
Inspired by her surroundings, Sandra Low continues to be amazed by the power and influence of badminton on people’s lives. The President of Guam National Badminton Federation is also the Shuttle Time National Coordinator and as a result, features in this week’s Humans of Shuttle Time campaign – an initiative which looks into the involvement of key leaders in countries and their motivations for helping to grow the sport.
Read what Sandra had to say about her journey into badminton and Shuttle Time:
I was born in Australia and moved to Hong Kong when I was five years old, then moved again to Guam when I was 12. My parents operated a small family business so I would consider us a middle-income family.
I was a bookworm and immersed myself in reading. Sports was never part of my consciousness.
Living in Hong Kong, badminton was played in parks and school grounds, and so I was familiar with the sport. At the time, I thought it was a fun sport, albeit too physical for a bookworm such as myself.
A Closer Association
Fast forward to some 30 years later, through the encouragement and guidance of Ricardo Blas, president of the Guam National Olympic Committee, I was tasked with developing badminton in Guam. Since 2010, I have been the president of the Guam National Badminton Federation and working to promote and develop the sport through community and school outreach programmes.
I still remember the time I first published notice of the formation of a badminton organisation, not knowing how it would be received. I was surprised to see so many interested people join that first organisational meeting – that was gratifying.
Another memorable moment was having a photo taken with Lee Chong Wei – talk about being starstruck!
People will always be what humanises my badminton experiences and make them memorable. It is always humbling to see a group of people so committed and passionate about their sport. I treasure the friendships formed and maintained through the years while doing “badminton work”.
As an “adult onset athlete”, badminton means options. In a world where we are trying to encourage an active lifestyle, I see badminton as a viable option for people who wish to embark on a physical regimen, to learn a new sport, or to participate in a family activity. It is a fun and safe sport!
I see badminton as a ticket to see the world for an islander. For those who aspire to be challenged, sport is a way to travel.
An Easy-to-Adapt Sport
Low barriers to entry – badminton is not very expensive to join, and most people are able to enjoy the game from the outset, even with little or no training.
It is one of the few sports where our island physique does not handicap us.
Over the years, I have yet to meet someone with a negative impression of badminton. Most people fondly remember their days of backyard badminton. This makes our job easier – there are no negative pushbacks from the community.
Spreading the Word
Shuttle Time has raised the bar for other sports in Guam — the teachers are so impressed with the programme. The lessons and videos are professionally produced and are great resources for the teachers. They appreciate the well thought-out content and of course, the equipment donation. Shuttle Time has certainly raised the profile of badminton in our local school system.
Through Shuttle Time and the introduction of badminton to students, we have given them an additional choice of sport. During the middle school interscholastic season, I remember a parent coming up to me to express her joy in finding her normally sedentary son engaged in a sport. That totally validated our efforts.
With our recent collaboration with Special Olympics Guam, we are making strides in bringing increased awareness of badminton in the community.
An Important Lesson
It takes time to cultivate relationships and one must be consistent in communicating with the schools to remain “top-of-mind” for the teachers.
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