In a celebration of talent, determination, and inclusion, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on 3 December takes on a special resonance this year, marked by the echoes of the Badminton World Federation (BWF) and International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Para Badminton Sport Technical Workshop.
Held from 17-21 October in Cairo, Egypt, the landmark event aimed to amplify the voice and prowess of Para Badminton in Africa.
Drawing together 50 participants from 14 countries, including Ethiopia, Nigeria, Namibia, and Somalia, the workshop comprised a dynamic blend of activities aimed at elevating the sport across the continent.
At the heart of the workshop was the Player Camp, a High-Performance platform led by BWF experts – Dina Abouzeid, Para badminton player Guillaume Gailly (SL4), and Kaity Hall, a Para badminton coach of repute. The camp served as an incubator for the top athletes in Africa, providing them with advanced knowledge on diverse strokes and techniques. Kaity Hall shared, “The camp we have designed is to give African players advanced knowledge on different strokes and techniques. In Egypt, we had a good group of players to teach these skills to and help them in their future careers.”
For Para badminton player Deada Jean Yves Yao (SL3) from the Ivory Coast, the experience transcended skill development. He expressed, “Sharing my experience with other countries has been magical because I learned a lot of new things such as techniques. The energy, the pleasure, and the joy of life meant we passed through a lot of joyful moments. It was a good experience.”
Gailly, 2023 European Games champion (SL3-SL4), played a pivotal role in introducing the sport to many participants for the first time. Reflecting on this, he remarked, “I was lucky because I knew some of the players, but for some, the workshop was their first session of Para Badminton since qualifying for their first competition.” His experience served as a testament to the workshop’s impact, showcasing the immense potential and uncharted territories within the sport.
The workshop also delved into Coach Education, offering a Disability Coaching Level 2 Workshop for coaches who had previously completed the Level 1 course. Facilitated by BWF experts, including Dina Abouzeid, Gailly, and Hall, the workshop aimed to equip coaches working with Para badminton national teams, elevating the standards of coaching across the continent.
Abouzeid, a BWF Para coach, emphasised the significance of the course in reaching beyond the basics covered in Level 1. She noted, “This is the second Level 2 course delivered. This time around, it’s for African participants, which is good for the sport. The course is for professionals and annual programmes on how to tactically follow players. The aim is to have professional players in Africa, and that’s why it’s good to have these kinds of courses.”
Additionally, an Administration/Para Badminton Pathways Workshop targeted new countries, laying the groundwork for the establishment of a national Para badminton structure. Spearheaded by John Shearer (BWF Head of Continental Development), Fern Gilders (BWF Head of Tournament Development), and Raja Rochdy (BCA Head of Operations), the workshop aimed to provide the knowledge and capacity needed to ignite Para badminton initiatives in new territories.
Representatives from National Paralympic Committees (NPCs) and Member Associations (MAs) attended the workshop, collectively working towards building national para badminton development plans. The collaborative effort is poised to align and develop the sport nationally, fostering a sense of unity and purpose.
International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPwD) is a UN day that is celebrated every year on 3 December promotes the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities at every level of society and development, and to raise awareness of the situation of persons with disabilities in all aspects of political, social, economic, and cultural life.