New Caledonia boast some of the strongest players and the top seeded team in the upcoming Northern Marianas Pacific Mini Games 2022.
Spearheaded by the experience of Johanna Kou, who has 12 Pacific Games medals to her name, the New Caledonian wears several hats: player, Badminton Oceania Executive Board member, President of New Caledonia badminton and coach.
For many years, she has been influential in the development of up and coming badminton talent. This year, she highlighted two young female players in their team, Marine Souviat and Marine Naveros, who are early on in their badminton career, about to take on their biggest competition yet.
Learn more about their experience and journey towards next week’s Pacific Mini Games:
Can you tell us how your badminton journey started?
Souviat: “My Dad used to take me to see his co-worker compete in badminton tournaments when I was 9-years-old. Two years later, I started playing Badminton when I decided on my sports enrollment at my secondary school as a Year 7 pupil. This led to me practicing more badminton by registering in a sports club outside of school half a year later.”
Naveros: “My badminton journey started when I was 12-years-old. I went to the stadium to see my cousin Cécilia Moussy, who is also a badminton player. She was competing in a badminton tournament and I was totally impressed by this sport. So I tried badminton one day at the Jeunesse Indonésienne Club. Ever since then, I have enjoyed playing and practicing badminton with passion.”
What motivates you to play Badminton at a competitive level?
Souviat: “When I started playing badminton, I won first place at the Inter-school Championship and it made me want to progress more in this sport and compete in more tournaments. So I played my first Interclub tournament a few months after my registration, because I knew that it was harder to face players from other clubs than with those from school. However, it was necessary if I wanted to improve my game. For this reason, I decided to start facing more experienced and older female players when I was almost 13-years-old.”
Naveros: “My initial motivation to play badminton at a competitive level is due to my curiosity. Indeed, thanks to the sport and playing badminton in competition, I appreciated the opportunity to travel and meet notable athletes. The fact that I was able to watch them play badminton inspired me to improve my badminton skills in order to reach their level one day.”
Which professional player(s) or role model inspire you and why?
Souviat: “My favourite female player is Gronya Somerville from Badminton Australia. I discovered Gronya on Instagram by watching her daily Badminton trainings and I was lucky to watch her games when I participated at the VICTOR Oceania Championships in Ballarat in 2020. I think she’s a very good player and she has a lot of charisma.”
Naveros: “My role model is Gronya Sommerville, who is an Australian badminton player. I had the chance to see her at the VICTOR Oceania Championships 2019 held in Melbourne. I discovered that her skill level is very high and her way of play badminton is really particular. Furthermore, she participated at the Tokyo Olympics Games for the first time in 2021. She represents a strong inspirational model for me.”
How is your preparation going for the Pacific Mini Games?
Souviat: “I started my preparation almost 8 months ago with three 2-hour sessions per week. During my time spent there together with other selected New Caledonian players, I got to know the other players better as we were all from different Badminton clubs. Together, we participated in every tournament from singles to doubles and mixed double disciplines. Currently, we are working to improve on our endurance, technical skills and strategic thinking.”
Naveros: “For the Pacific Games, a Badminton coach from France visited New Caledonia to train our team ahead of the Championship. Moreover, we train twice a week with our team and another training on top with our affiliated badminton clubs. In addition to our trainings, I swim two times a week.”
What is your weekly training regime/routine like?
Souviat: “In addition to the three trainings with the New Caledonian team, I also practice at my own badminton club twice a week. I have started doing muscle strengthening session at a fitness centre in my spare time when I don’t have any badminton training going on.”
Naveros: “My weekly routine is loaded. We have trainings with the national team on Mondays, Thursdays and Sundays. Each training session is two hours long. In addition, we play at our affiliated clubs on Fridays for another two hours. To maintain our physical fitness, I swim twice a week for one hour.”
Written by Alex Deng
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