Developing Community through Badminton
International Day of Sport for Development and Peace (IDSDP) is an annual celebration held on April 6th that sheds light on the power of sports to “drive social change, community development and to foster peace and understanding”. The impact of sport isn’t only for our own body but even larger than that. Sport also brings positive impacts on our communities and the lives of people all over the world and that’s what we want to talk about.
Badminton Asia (BA) is celebrating IDSDP by highlighting our Development programs and activities that they’ve hosted throughout the year. This time, we highlight the Shuttle Time program launched in 2012 by BWF. This was a program created to engage young children (aged 5 to 15 years old) and teachers to become healthy people living healthy lifestyles. Since its launch, Shuttle Time has provided schools all over the world with access to free equipment, training and other resources to practice and participate in fun badminton activities.
One of the most successful Shuttle Time stories is Bhutan, one of the first countries where the program launched in 2012. Since its launch, Shuttle Time has been implemented in at least 16 districts in Bhutan. To get further insight, Badminton Asia interviewed the National Coach and National Shuttle Time Co-ordinator at Bhutan Badminton Federation, Dorji, and 10-year-old Shuttle Time student Yeshi Tenzin Lhamo to know more about Shuttle Time’s growth in the country and the benefit of the program itself!
Coach Dorji’s Shuttle Time Experience
According to Coach Dorji, prior to Shuttle Time’s launch in 2012, badminton was not a relatively popular sport. In fact other sports, such as football, were much bigger and popular. But, since its introduction, it’s popularity started to grow. As more teachers attended the courses, more knowledge of the sport was taught and spread to the kids in school. From 2012 till now, Bhutan has over 600 trained teachers across 16 districts.
When asked about his aim as a Shuttle Time Coach, Dorji said this: “As a teacher for Shuttle Time, my aim is to make badminton a popular sport in Bhutan. To give every individual and child the experience to play badminton, so they know there is a sport called badminton,” he then continues “with Shuttle Time, we have taken our program to remote places, in the corners of our country, and now everyone knows badminton through Shuttle Time”.
As much as the Shuttle Time is about sport, Coach Dorji realizes that it’s important for the kids to enjoy doing the activity. “Whenever I design the program for the kids, I separate them by 2 age groups: 6-12, 13-15. The children love to play within (similar) age groups, so they can share their experiences with each other,” Coach Dorji says. With the younger children, Coach Dorji would usually create small games as a part of the program but for the older kids it's learning the basic badminton skills. Normally, he says, that they would have around 40-50 kids participate during the weekends. However, due to the pandemic only 25 kids are allowed to be there at the same time.
Coach Dorji has been coaching for 21 years, and got involved with the Shuttle Time since it was launched in 2012. During that period of time, he has witnessed how badminton brings changes to the community where the Shuttle Time runs.
“As a coach, I've come across many positive impacts, not just on the kids but adults as well. Because of Shuttle Time, badminton has reached all corners of the country. The kids are making lots of friends, they’re not stressed, and we engage with them by having activities in the right direction”. But more than coaching, he loves being with small kids. “I love being a mentor, and to help them get into the right direction, and to motivate them”.
The positive impacts of the Shuttle Time also apply to teenage students. Shuttle Time is an activity that young people can do after school. It occupies their spare time so they don’t go into negative things such as drugs.
Coach Dorji hopes that Shuttle Time will continue to grow bigger and that more teachers share their badminton knowledge with their schools. For him, he hopes to continue to motivate and inspire the children to play badminton and to lead a good life.
Yeshi Tenzin Lhamo has only been playing badminton for 3 years since she was 7 year old. Not only did we interview Coach Dorji, but BA had the privilege of talking with one of his students, 10 year old Yeshi Tenzin Lhamo. Yeshi first joined the program in 2018 after she was introduced to it by Coach Dorji through social media. She enjoys Shuttle Time because it brings her to make new friends and of course because it gets her to play a lot of badminton, a game she loves so much. She then enthusiastically told us that when it comes to learning badminton skills she loved to “smash” and also to do “dropshots”. Despite only being 10, she wants to continue to play even more badminton in the future, because “it’s (her) hobby and (she) loves badminton”.
It’s stories like Yeshi’s which are important to hear because it’s the children who’s at the center of this program. Yeshi and so many other children, are the ones that participate and engage in the activities, which will hopefully teach them the importance of being active and healthy, which is the main goal for Shuttle Time.
Badminton Asia’s Shuttle Time Journey
Ever since the launch in 2012, the goal of the Shuttle Time program has always been to promote an active and healthy life to as many people as possible. To measure this success, we look at the number of participants. When it was first implemented in the Maldives, it had around 50 participants. Now, more than 800,000 school children, 20,390 teachers and 570 tutors have been involved with the program. It grew all over Asia, from just 1 country to 33 countries with active Shuttle Time programs, including Bhutan.
Shuttle Time in Bhutan was a huge success in itself as told by Coach Dorji. Before Shuttle Time was implemented, badminton was not that popular in comparison to other sports like football. But within 3 years, they’ve conducted mini Shuttle Time tournaments throughout the different regions with brand new nets and courts. Badminton Asia has helped the Bhutan Badminton Federation in building and overseeing the program from the start, including providing new courts, sending tutors to teach the courses, and supporting the teachers through equipments. Additionally, every year BA conducts coaching education programs and training camps in Malaysia, and teachers from Bhutan are invited to increase their coaching knowledge and background.
With this program, it’s also BA’s aim to bring the young athletes forward into their badminton career, and to provide them a pathway for player development. Shuttle Time is a grassroots program, and we hope that once they get older and better, these players who came from Shuttle Time will move onto a club. Then, if they are good BA hopes that one of them is able to be a part of our Asia Olympic Project (AOP) which aims to train young players to prepare for their professional badminton careers and hopefully, the Olympics.
The Shuttle Time program has been a great success in Bhutan thanks to the collaboration between BA, Bhutan Badminton Federation, all the tutors, teachers, and the local community. The growth since it first started in 2012 has been immense, and has reached all different kinds of people, from young to old. Shuttle Time is very family oriented, in that it’s accessible to everybody who wants to participate.
Although the COVID-19 pandemic is still happening, the programs in Bhutan and the other countries are still ongoing. Badminton Asia wishes even greater success for Shuttle Time this year, so we can continue to engage with young children in the importance of sport and a healthy lifestyle.