LUGOGO STADIUM, KAMPALA: Over the past 14 days, Uganda, known as the Pearl of Africa, has hosted exhilarating Para badminton matches at Lugogo Stadium. The Uganda Badminton Association (UBA), renowned for hosting Para badminton tournaments in Africa since 2017, once again showcased its prowess as a super host. From the moment participants arrived at the airport, UBA’s elaborate hospitality team, led by Betty Apio, ensured smooth transportation to the hotels, while also keeping fans informed on social media about the arrival of teams and dignitaries.
“We were so excited to welcome all the participants,” said the ever-smiling Betty. “Ugandans are known all over the world as friendly people, and we wanted to extend our hospitality to make all the participants feel at home as soon as they landed in Uganda.”
Prior to the start of the tournaments, the Badminton Confederation of Africa (BCA) organized a three-day para player and coach training program with the participation of eleven countries. The workshop aimed to enhance the coaches’ capacity and increase player participation, providing new players with an opportunity to be classified correctly.
Bernadin and Reda, the trainers, expressed their objectives for the coaching program, emphasizing the importance of improving coaching techniques and promoting inclusivity in Para badminton. They also provided valuable insights and shared their expertise with the participants.
Following the workshop, the Uganda Para badminton International tournament took center stage, with over 105 athletes competing. As expected, India’s large contingent secured most of the medals, with Nigeria’s Bolaji Eniola winning the Gold Medal in Women’s Singles SL3. Shaimaa Sammy from Egypt narrowly missed the Gold in Women’s Singles WH2, settling for silver. Notably, Uganda, as the host, performed admirably and won an incredible 8 bronze medals.
Expressing her disappointment, Shaimaa said, “The Gold was so near, yet so far, but I am nevertheless happy with my performance.” Finishing in second place during this Paralympic qualification period will greatly improve her ranking and enhance her chances of qualifying for the 2024 Paralympic Games in Paris. She expressed gratitude to her federation and the BCA for their support. Shaimaa is one of the selected para players benefiting from the BCA’s 2024 Paris Paralympic Games qualification scholarship.
As the Uganda Para badminton International concluded, the stage was set for the 2023 Africa Para badminton Championship. The championship saw the participation of eleven countries and a total of six sport classes for competition. This year’s edition welcomed new entrants such as Senegal and Togo, while Nigeria, long considered a sleeping giant, made a roaring comeback by winning all the events they participated in, securing a record 8 Gold Medals, (8 Gold, 2 Silver, 3 Bronze). Egypt secured second place with 6 Gold Medals, (6 Gold, 3 Silver, 1 Bronze). The remaining countries’ medal tallies followed according to their respective positions :
President Francis of Nigeria expressed his happiness and gratitude to his team for reclaiming their title as the giants of Para badminton in Africa. He promised continued support for the team in future activities and urged local and global partners to rally behind Para badminton in Nigeria. He concluded by assuring a grand celebration for Bolaji and the rest of the team upon their return to Lagos.
For the complete results of the finals, please refer to the link.