7 YEARS ON, AND DR. KINGSLEY METU FROM NIGERIA IS STILL PASSIONATE ABOUT DEVELOPING PARA BADMINTON IN AFRICA.
The BWF Para badminton classification panel currently consists of 13 International classifiers under the able leadership of Dr. Shamsul Azhar Shah from Malaysia. A Para athlete himself, Dr. Shamsul has been very instrumental to the growth of Para badminton as a classifier with immeasurable experience spanning over 26 years.
” Classification is an important entrance step for any athlete into Para sport. He told BCA Tv during the classification workshop held at Lugogo stadium to classify the new athletes entered for the Uganda Para Badminton International 2022 and the African Para Badminton Championships 2022 scheduled to run from the 13th of September to the 24th of September 2022.
“ The role of the classifiers is to asses’ players and assign them to the various classes in Para badminton to enable them to compete fairly in international competitions.” He added.
Based on the BWF’s minimal impairment criteria, Para badminton athletes are classified into Wheelchair Classes WH1 and WH2, Standing Lower Classes SL3 and SL4, Standing Upper Class SU5, and Short Stature SH6 Class.
Dr Shamsul also added: “ To qualify as a BWF Para badminton classifier, one should have a medical background, and if he or she is an ex-badminton player, then that is considered a good advantage.”
One such classifier under the mentorship of Dr. Shamsu, and a BWF International Classifier is Dr. Kingsley Metu from Nigeria.
” I started my journey as BWF Classifier from humble beginnings back in my state as a recreational badminton player. Initially, I didn’t have passion for the sport, but as I got involved, I realized I had a unique desire to assist persons with disabilities.”
Recommended by Nigeria’s Para badminton Coordinator to participate in the first ever BWF classifier workshop in 2017, Dr. Kingsley remains the first African in the BWF classification panel.
” I don’t take this opportunity for granted, and I am thankful to the BWF and BCA for the steps and support they have given Para badminton in Africa. Through the BWF support, the number of trainees and national level 1 classifier has increased”.
“The journey for me has been wonderful but requires a lot of dedication and time. As a practicing medical doctor, it sometimes becomes a challenge to balance the two careers, however when you see the happiness you bring to the athletes when they get classified there is no doubt that you are in the right profession.
” I have loved every bit of this job, both the humbling experiences and the joyous ones. Every tournament brings with it new experiences, and you get better every day. I consider every day in this job a memorable day. The feeling you get when you are in the tournament hall is indescribable. You can never tell the difference between the abled and disabled, we are all one united by the passion of our sport.
Back home, I have used my position and experience to train our National Level 1 classifiers.
The BWF has four levels of classifier, starting from the National Level 1 Classifier, the National Level 2 Classifier, International Classifier, and Senior International Classifier. BWF coordinates and delivers classifier training at a national and international level.
During this edition of Uganda Para badminton International, the BWF invited 5 Trainee Classifiers from Uganda, and one Classifier each from DR Congo, India, and Nigeria. Dr. Ahmed Reda, the BCA Regional development officer, who is already a National Level 2 Classifier is currently being trained to become the second African International Classifier.
“Since I joined badminton, I have not had the opportunity to combine, both my passions of badminton and medicine. I am looking forward to this opportunity to take Para badminton in Africa to new heights”.
***Additional source- BWF website