On 5 February, University of Warwick Badminton Club (UWBC) came together to smash the parasport shuttlecock over the net by holding a charity event of Para-Badminton. With Para-Badminton introduced to the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo, we aimed to raise awareness of the sport and its accessibility. What better way is there to spread the word than by providing the opportunity for everyone to try out the sport for themselves?
If the image of one attempting to manoeuvre around in a wheelchair while simultaneously using their badminton racquet wasn’t tempting enough, then what if we throw in the company and excellence of national pros to show us how it’s done? I’m no Archimedes, but eureka! The event was a roaring success and we raised more than £150 for Wheelpower, a charity who widen the opportunities available for the disabled to explore sport.
At 9:30am, the hall was ready for the day’s proceedings and we already had the arrival of two of our special guests, Gobi Ranganathan (a Para-Badminton pro) and Jenny Wheeler (Warwick SU’s Disabilities Officer) – two people whose input and sheer enthusiasm for the sport were paramount in the planning and subsequent success of the day. We received two publicity visits: BBC Coventry and Warwickshire (who recorded a live segment as part of their show Gold and Treasure) and our local MP, Jim Cunningham. Sally, one of BBC CW’s presenters and a complete newbie to the sport, was given the challenge to try out some Para-Badminton – with comical results. It made us realise how tough it would be to multitask while playing and I wondered whether I’d be able to make any shots – I was quaking in my boots (or in my case, trainers)!
What followed was a display of sheer excellence by Gobi and his fellow pros Sharon Jones-Barnes and David Follett. It was compelling to watch such excellent sporting talent play the sport before your eyes at your university! Everyone had the opportunity to challenge the pros. As someone who had never seen Para-Badminton in action, it certainly opened my eyes and made me realise how tough yet enjoyable it is. Yes, holding the badminton racquet and steering a wheelchair is harder than it looks (I wasn’t very good) but I enjoyed the experience beyond measure. As always, when you get a hall full of people together who enjoy Badminton as much as we do, it’s bound to be a treat.
The event was a roaring success and we raised more than £150 for Wheelpower
The final part of the day was the eagerly-awaited Para-Badminton tournament. 20 people competed in a knockout-stage setting, and it wasn’t long before we had our finalists: first team Captain Sam Phillips and one of our two Social Secs, Matt Wall vs our Treasurer Matt Honnor and Jenny Wheeler, with Sam and Matt the victorious pair. The Badminton on display was beyond impressive throughout the tournament and the final was truly the cherry on the cake.
Everyone had a wonderful day and we loved the enthusiasm of everyone who came. We are so hopeful about the future of Para-Badminton, as well as the closer working-partnership between UWBC, Jenny and Warwick Sport to help create more accessible Badminton events in future. This is only the beginning!