An online development initiative by the Arab Badminton Federation with support from BWF has been enthusiastically received by badminton communities across the Arab world.
With restrictions on group physical activity over the last several weeks due to the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown, the Arab Badminton Federation initiated online sessions to spread awareness on various aspects of badminton. The first session, in mid-May, was ‘Home Training From a Physical Perspective’ by Dr. Mohammed Thiyabat from Jordan.
Subsequent sessions dealt with other topics, such as values and ethics (Dr. Mousab Hamad), building motor programmes (Dr. Wessam Salah), athletes’ lifestyle (Dr. Osama Allala) and arbitration (Ahmed Azad).
Another initiative in the early weeks of the pandemic was on raising the importance of social distancing, with videos created by players.
Jaffer Ibrahim, BWF Dubai Badminton Development Manager, who has helped coordinate the sessions, says the response has surpassed expectations.
“There’s huge interest from the Arab community,” Ibrahim says. “The current initiative started after the lockdown began, and we thought of delivering content to Arab countries. This was an opportunity to reach out. Now there are hundreds of people viewing our sessions online. The sessions are over Zoom and shared on Facebook. The last session had around a hundred participants and a reach of over 20,000 people on Facebook.”
The Arab Badminton Federation, currently led by Dr. Sawsan Taqawi, was established in 1996 and has 17 member associations. The potential for the growth of badminton in the region is thus immense, as there are 22 nations with Arabic as official language.
Ibrahim senses a new zeal for learning aspects about badminton apart from on-court drills. A significant number of participants are coaches who seek to enhance their knowledge on training students.
“The coronavirus situation created this arrangement,” he says. “Previously, many people didn’t believe in online learning. They preferred face-to-face interactions, but now everyone is moving online, and looking for course content. In many cases, clubs ask coaches to do online courses.
“So now they have discovered a new way to learn. Honestly, we are one of the few Arab federations to offer online education. A majority of those who attend our sessions keep coming back. We offer a certificate of participation and it’s useful to those who are interested in self-development.”
Ibrahim believes that badminton is an ideal sport for the Arab world, particularly among female participants, for it is played indoors, is non-contact, and can be played in relatively small, private spaces.
“We see people from other sports coming to our sport. Many people can play basic badminton at home, as you need just a small space. It’s safe, and you don’t break things at home.”
Those interested in viewing the sessions can go to the Arab Badminton Federation page on Facebook.