This story was produced by ABC International Development as part of the Pacific Sports Partnerships funded by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
The sport of badminton has been the catalyst for a special sporting, social and cultural exchange between Australian Tongans and Tongans visiting Australia.
On a cloudy Saturday afternoon in an industrial area of Logan between the Gold Coast and Brisbane, these young Australians of Tongan descent are bonding with visitors from Tonga, and it’s happening over a game of badminton.
The Sudirman Cup, the world mixed team badminton championship, named after Indonesian pioneer of the game Dick Sudirman, is being held in Australia for the first time.
Back home, the Tongan travellers run the Shuttle Time program, an Australian Aid-supported sport for development program that has had stunning success, introducing almost five per cent of the population of the island kingdom to badminton. They have come for the Sudirman Cup, the perfect opportunity for training, elite exposure, and outreach.
Tongan para-badminton player and coach Soni Niukapu is walking some burly young boys through the fundamentals of the world’s fastest racquet sport. Within minutes, they progress from clueless to competent.
“This is their first time playing but they know how to play, hold the racquet, using forehand and backhand,” he says.
“They’ve really enjoyed it.”
For Aaron Kearney’s full article click here