Pictured: Caroline Brial leading Shuttle Time sessions in Wallis and Futuna
Badminton Oceania’s newest member association, Wallis and Futuna, will make their international debut next week at the Northern Marianas Pacific Games 2022.
The association is diving into the deep end, immersing themselves in all the opportunities available to enhance badminton’s exposure in country. They immediately benefited from the BWF Membership Grants to implement Shuttle Time and AirBadminton activities across the French-speaking South Pacific Island, with six leaders also undertaking the virtual Shuttle Time teachers course.
Since then, six players have also been selected to represent their country and become the first representatives in a Pacific Games.
Excited about making her debut with the team, President and Team Manager of Wallis and Futuna Badminton Caroline Brial caught up with Badminton Oceania to discuss the team’s preparations:
How are you and the players feeling going into this event?
“Indeed, this is our first Pacific Mini Games. The players and myself feel very excited to participate in these Pacific Games. This is a great opportunity and chance for us to play abroad, to meet new people from the Oceanic region and an honor for us to represent our small island.
Most of us have never played outside the country so we are aware of this rare chance. We are thankful to everyone from our local partners to Badminton Oceania and the Badminton World Federation.”
Tell us more about the development of badminton in Wallis and Futuna…
“Slowly but surely is the right expression for the time being.
Unfortunately, Badminton is not well known and is not developed as much as other countries of the region. The most popular sports in Wallis and Futuna is Volleyball and Rugby, so it is quite difficult for us to play our cards right. However, with the Shuttle Time program, I am very confident that Badminton will increase in popularity.”
Can you give us an insight on how the players have prepared for the Pacific Mini Games?
“As soon as Badminton was confirmed in the sports list for Saipan, we started our physical and technical training. Each of us did self-sufficient methods and self-led exercises when our borders were closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We did not get the chance to bring in a national French coach appointed by the French Badminton Federation to train us because of the rigorous sanitary protocols put in place at the time.”
How impactful has Shuttle Time been for Wallis and Futuna?
“We have already promoted it and four out of the eight primary schools here have shown interest in the program and the sport. At the end of July, we will commence training for our teachers from middle and high schools so that more young people will enjoy playing Badminton and practice the sport more“
Have any of the players gone abroad to have a taste of international badminton – or is this the first time?
“None of us have ever had a taste of international badminton and that is why we are happy and excited to finally be able to experience this moment!”
How are the team preparing mentally for their biggest event yet ?
“The team is aware of their isolation and the lack of representation internationally. Despite this, our minds are in good shape because whatever happens, it is a win-win situation for us. The objective is to fully live this enriching experience and to learn new things so that we can share with the others during our return.”
What do you think Wallis and Futuna can bring to the tournament that is unique from any other country?
“A different approach to badminton as the outsiders”
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