Haendel Ling began playing badminton in the same school as the legendary Lin Dan in Fujian, China, aged nine. It was then that she fell in love with the sport and a professional career ensued.
Ling gained experience representing China and became a coach in Japan some years later. She now wishes to spread the joy badminton can bring, hoping to be an inspiration to the next generation of women.
“When I was 23 years old, I accepted an offer to move to Japan and become a player for a large Japanese company,” recalled Ling. “After being competitive for many years, I decided to take a break. I got married and had children. It was later on that I decided to re-emerge as a coach for a professional career.”
As one of the few female badminton coaches in Japan, Ling is passionate about helping women into the sport – either by picking up a racket or starting their coaching journey, an area she believes a multitude of life skills can be acquired.
“Sports help young women be strong. It directs you to follow your passion and to work hard, stay calm and never give up. Coaching helps women learn these. Playing badminton develops a training routine and promotes constant improvement. Sports can be a confidence builder.”
Ling believes female coaches get into the sport to help others who love badminton.
“What makes badminton fun is the speed – the thrill of the rallies, the action and the skill required. It’s accessible to all because if you have two people and a court, all you need are rackets and shuttles to play.
“Age, nationality, level or physical condition don’t matter when coaching badminton. I’m enthusiastic about developing talent. If young people can learn a little from me, I will be happy.”
Ling runs her own badminton club in Fukuoka. Her classes at the Japanda Badminton Club offer training for all ages and abilities in three languages – Chinese, Japanese and English. But it doesn’t stop there as Ling also coaches outside her club.
“I work with universities and high schools in Japan. I also coach the Japanese national youth team and work as a badminton adviser for YONEX. I deliver workshops, gaining a lot of experience while working on my coaching skills. I want to develop badminton even in small towns and villages around the world. This is my passion, my mission.
“My advice to young women is to choose a sport you like and follow your passion. It’s only then you will continue to work harder. Clubbed together, these will lead to women feeling more independent, respected and most of all, confident in yourself and your abilities.”