This is the 25th story in our Humans of Shuttle Time series, in which we present the perspectives of those who work on badminton development at the grassroots level. Kumon Tarawa, Shuttle Time National Coordinator of Fiji, talks about his experiences with coaching and helping his community through badminton.
I was born and bred in Suva and grew up in a rural area in a multi-cultural community. This is where I spent all my life learning our cultures, the languages and traditional way of farming, fishing and speaking. I must say I have been blessed to be part of this unique community where everyone is an aunt, uncle, mum and dad and it was hard to get away with any mischief. My passion for sports and the outdoors was a result of a community that taught me to appreciate the outdoors.
Lessons from Sport
My favourite sports in childhood were volleyball and rugby which taught me a lot on being a team player, self-progress and growth. They taught me how to focus on building myself first, before coaching and mentoring others through sports.
These are valuable lessons and help a lot in my work as a teacher and educator in sports and leadership. It has been a blessing to be able to travel around the world and learn from others and understand their uniqueness. My passion lies in developing others, working in community settings and assisting people through sports.
First Experience of Badminton
I first saw badminton at the 2003 Pacific Games in Fiji. I saw it on TV but could not really understand it. However, this changed in Kiribati in 2012 where I saw its relevance to a small country with limited space and relatively high risk in non-communicable diseases. My journey in badminton began here as a volunteer with the focus to help people stay active, strong and healthy. I was drawn to its fast pace and graceful movements which were similar to dancing.
What impressed me was that it was easily set up, very cheap and a high intensity workout that was very attractive. I found it to be fun and suitable for people of all ages. It is a simple game that can contribute a lot to little nations.
Relationship With Badminton
I love the sport and wish to have my friends and colleagues explore this sport which is low risk and does not cause harm or injuries compared to contact sports. I’m the Shuttle Time Coordinator for Fiji, working with our workforce to make badminton accessible and the sport of choice for kids.
I would love to turn back time. I had the opportunity to work with people with disability in Melbourne, Australia. Badminton allowed me to really see its positive impacts on people. I met some very cool people who were short in stature, in wheelchairs and had upper or lower body disabilities – they had the biggest hearts, widest smiles and awesome personalities.
What Badminton Means
It means family, fun, active, healthy and togetherness.
Badminton has made me see the world differently. I used to favour a particular sport over others, but badminton has changed how I perceive so-called “minor” sports. It has enabled me to work in remote areas and see how villagers live every day. Kids love it when the balloons come out — all goes chaotic, even the mums and dads come in to tap those balloons. It is a very new sport for many Fijians. With Airbadminton, we are starting to have more interest from the rural areas and clubs are being established.
Shuttle Time has been included in schools and brings teachers together. They have been equipped with training and equipment to run PE sessions. Outdoor courts are being set up in several villages and kids are now exploring a new sport activating some basic movements common in all sports.
We have partnered with Fiji Rugby, Fiji Football and Fiji National Sports Commission as a key partner in developing rural communities. Additionally, we are able to train administrators, officials and coaches.
Lessons from Shuttle Time
Learn to modify sessions to suit the abilities and capabilities of your team, learners, and people you work with. Keep it simple, progressive, and fun.
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