Badminton Wales push to develop and train disabled players

The national body for the sport looks to introduce more players to badminton ahead of its 2020 Paralympic debut

Players from Badminton Wales’ 4 Nations tournament, which took place earlier this year

Badminton Wales are looking to seek out and develop disabled players to make the sport more inclusive and dynamic. 

This has come before para-badminton is due to make its debut at the Tokyo 2020 games this summer. 

Although the GB para-badminton squad has already been announced, the national body for the sport wants to identify, train and develop disabled players, trainers and coaches with the ultimate goal to represent Great Britain in future Paralympic squads. 

Badminton Wales currently host a successful 4 Nations event for disabled competitors and hope to build on this success. 

Cardiff has been at the centre of the sport recently, as Sport Wales National Centre in Sophia Gardens hosted an international tournament from 27-30 November, for professionals to gain crucial ranking points in the run-up to the Olympics. 

A worldwide invitational tournament, many nations were represented. 

Wales representatives William Kitching and Aimie Whiteman unfortunately only got through to the final 16 but players from England and Scotland made it to the final in men’s, women’s and mixed doubles. 

“Badminton being in the 2020 Paralympics is really exciting,” said Natasha Cutter, events coordinator for Badminton Wales. 

She continued, “It’s another angle that we’re trying as we have quite limited funding at the moment, but within Cardiff we have three disabled clubs running – introducing this incredible dynamic sport to more people is fantastic.” 

Assistant England pathway coach, David Lindley, spoke highly of the para-badminton players, “I’m absolutely blown away by their level of skill but also their commitment and I think the opportunity they’ve got now is fantastic.” 

Yet there is currently only one professional Welsh para-badminton player, Jack Wilson. Wilson’s solo position in the sport suggests this is an area that can be improved; especially in comparison to other UK nations. 

Victor Welsh International badminton championship
Seng Zoe Yeoh returns the shuttlecock in his match against Ditlev Jaeger Holm at last weekend’s tournament in Cardiff

David said: “I think one of the issues going forward is how they [Badminton Wales] promote their commitment, skill and funding more because we’ve got world champions but underneath that, they’re only really coming through in certain areas with the right facilities and opportunities.

“Hopefully the Olympic funding coming in will allow them to branch out a little bit and create more hubs around the country,” David added. 

England pathways coach, Julia Quinn, explained how good badminton is as an active sport, “It’s about socialising with other people, it’s about keeping fit, it develops hand eye coordination,” she explained. 

“There’s a lot of things that go into badminton that can really help kids later on in life,” she added. 

On the subject of the benefits of the sport, Natasha said that getting active can help to improve mental health: “You have all of your happy endorphins kicking off.” 

The 2020 summer Paralympic games will begin in Tokyo on 25 August.