Breaking New Ground Thanks to Female Participation Grant

Breaking New Ground Thanks to Female Participation Grant

Talibah Davis became the first Para shuttler from the picturesque island of Barbados to compete at a BWF World Championships in Pattaya, Thailand last month.

It was a feat that seemed improbable not too long ago, but there she was, standing shoulder to shoulder with the best on the planet.

Davis’ journey hadn’t been easy.

Diagnosed with cerebral palsy at a young age, she faced numerous challenges in her quest to excel in a sport she loved. But Davis was not deterred by the obstacles. She discovered her passion for Para badminton during her school years, and from that moment on, there was no looking back.

As a teenager, she honed her skills in domestic tournaments, catching the eye of national selectors with her raw talent and determination. Joining the national squad was a dream-come-true for Davis, who relished every opportunity to spar with her teammates and learn from seasoned coaches.

But it was the BWF Female Participation Grant (FPG) that truly paved the way for the 22-year-old to shine on the world stage. With financial support to attend her first international tournament and access to training facilities, Davis was able to elevate her game to new heights. The grant not only provided her the means to compete in SL4 by getting officially classified by BWF Classifiers, but also instilled in her a sense of purpose and belonging within the Para badminton community.

Davis the first Bajan to play at World Championships.

Stepping onto the courts in Pattaya was a surreal experience for Davis. The magnitude of the event and the calibre of her opponents were daunting, but she approached each match with courage and grace. Though she finished bottom of Group B in women’s singles, Davis emerged from the tournament with invaluable lessons and memories for life.

“It’s been exciting and a little nerve-racking playing these bigger nations, but I loved it,” she said. “With my coaches and family behind me, I was able to compete.

“It was my first time in Thailand, and it was amazing to see the interaction between players from all the different countries. You can see how friendly everyone is. Some of the Para players gave me tips on how to handle nerves and showed me new techniques. The serving style is different in Asia to what I’ve been practicing back home. That’s one lesson I’ll be adapting to. It was great to watch the top players in action too.

“FPG has helped me so much in getting my career started,” Davis added. “It was coming out of COVID-19, and everything was starting up again. I was able to get classified and get going to my first tournament and make new friends. Going to tournaments before coming to the World Championships was also a good indicator of what I’d be up against.”

On being the first Bajan at a World Championships, she remarked: “It’s nice to know I’m making a mark. It shows regardless of your disability, there’s a sport for you. I’d love to see Para badminton continue to grow in my country and the Caribbean. I’ll do my part to support its development in any way I can.”