As a recreational badminton player back in his state, Dr Kingsley Metu did not have enough passion for the sport when, on the recommendation of Nigeria’s Para badminton Coordinator, he took part in the first ever BWF Classifier Workshop in 2017.
But the longer the Nigerian got involved, the more he realised he had a “unique desire to assist persons with disabilities”.
Five years on, the practicing medical doctor is one of 13 international classifiers under the able leadership of Dr Shamsul Azhar Shah of Malaysia. He is also the only African in the group.
“I don’t take this opportunity for granted,” says Metu. “I’m thankful to BWF and the Badminton Confederation of Africa for the support they have given Para badminton in Africa.
“Through this, the number of trainees and National Level 1 Classifier has increased.
“Back home, I’ve also used my position and experience to train National Level 1 Classifiers.”
So how has the journey been for the doc?
“I have loved every bit of this job, both the humbling experiences and the joyous ones,” Metu said.
“Every tournament brings new experiences, you get better every day. I consider every day in this job memorable. The feeling you get in the tournament hall is indescribable. You can never tell the difference between the abled and disabled, we are all united by the passion for our sport.
“The journey has been wonderful but requires a lot of dedication and time. As a practicing doctor, it sometimes becomes a challenge to balance the two careers but seeing the happiness you bring the athletes when they get classified, there’s no doubt you are in the right profession.”
Based on BWF’s minimal impairment criteria, Para badminton athletes are classified into Wheelchair (WH1, WH2), Standing Lower (SL3, SL4), Standing Upper (SU5) and Short Stature (SH6) classes.
BWF has four levels of classifier – National Level 1, National Level 2, International and Senior International.
The role of a Classifier is to assess players and assign them to the right Para badminton class so they are able to compete fairly in international competitions.