The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the way sporting activities are hosted and delivered. The Badminton World Federation (BWF) in consultation with its member associations developed a comprehensive resumption of sports guidelines to ensure that the safety of the players and spectators was guaranteed. It is in this regard that the Tunisia Badminton Federation embarked on this ambitious drive to resume sporting activities, by organizing a series of BWF development programmes from 11th to 22nd of March 2021 in Tozeur.
The programmes were supported by governmental departments, like the Ministry of Sports and the Ministry of Education, in collaboration with local organizations, the BWF and the Badminton Confederation Africa (BCA). Their Regional Development Officer, Dr. Ahmed Reda, and Mr. Jaffer Ebrahim, BWF Dubai Development Manager, facilitated the trainings.
A BWF Level 1 Coaching Course was held from 11th to 16th of March 2021, with 15 coaches including four women and eleven men, drawn from various regions. The course aimed at increasing the number of qualified coaches and equipping them with the necessary skills to develop badminton in their respective regions. Key outcomes of the course included increased knowledge for the new coaches; increased number of coaches from different regions outside the capital, increasing the spread of the sport and giving more children an opportunity to play, introducing the sport to different stakeholders and allowing for greater engagement with the sport. This training brought the number of trained BWF Level 1 coaches to nineteen. The federation will now support these coaches and facilitate the opening of new badminton academies and clubs across the regions to enhance the spread and popularity of the sport.
Sabrine Tlili, one of the participants, stated: “I’m greatly thankful to everyone who had contributed in giving us the opportunity to explore more and to learn something new about this amazing sport. A very warm thank you to Coach Jaffer Ebrahim and Coach Ahmed Reda for the several pieces of advice that were truly invaluable and helpful throughout the course.”
With the introduction of AirBadminton, the new outdoor game of the BWF, the Tunisia Badminton Federation conducted their first AirBadminton workshop and a National Championship in Ongeljemel, on 17th March 2021. This event was iconic and received huge accolades as it was held at the site where the famous Hollywood movie ‘STAR WARS’ was filmed. The new sport, which can be played outside and on different surfaces, was a big opportunity for the Tunisia Badminton Federation to launch the sport and showcase, for the first time in the world, AirBadminton being played on top of camels. Twenty players, including six females, took part in the tournament. The ‘match’ between Badminton Confederation Africa, Regional Development Officer Dr. Ahmed Reda, and Jaffer Ebrahim, BWF Dubai Development Manager and Secretary General of the Arab Badminton Federation, went viral on badminton social media platforms.
Mr. Abdelmajid Bahri, the President of the Tunisian Federation exclaimed: “AirBadminton is suitable for everyone and can be played anywhere. We are seeking here to give the chance to everyone to enjoy our sport. We have so many nice places to play AirBadminton like where we are now in Tozeur desert at the place where one of the ‘Star Wars’ movie was filmed. We are also planning to host an International AirBadminton tournament this year in November and all the local authorities have confirmed their support to make it possible.”
Another event held in Tunisia was the Para badminton Workshop held on 18th of March,2021. With Para badminton growing at a steady pace in most African countries, the Tunisia Badminton Federation saw the need to host their first Para badminton workshop to popularize the sport and educate their tutors. Their President added: “Para Badminton is in its nascent stage and the federation is aiming to train coaches and introduce the Para sport to different stakeholders and different special needs organizations.”
Twenty players with different categories of disability, including hearing disabilities, took part in the workshop. The workshop was graced by the presence of some people in authority, who were happy with the event and the para sport, and promised to help the Tunisian federation in their plan to make Para badminton available for all. The Federation is still facing some challenges with the development of Para badminton as it is still a new para sport with few players and trained coaches.
The federation also conducted Shuttle Time Tutors and Teachers’ courses on the 19th and 20th of March 2021. The courses aimed to increase the number of Shuttle Time Tutors and Teachers implementing the Shuttle Time programme in the country. Fifteen tutors from six schools participated in the courses. This training also aimed to increase the number of players who would now be competing in the National Championships. Through the efforts of the Tunisia Badminton Federation, the Shuttle Time programme is now being adopted by some schools in Tunisia for the Physical Education lessons. However, challenges like lack of equipment, lack of indoor badminton infrastructure in some schools and limited trained coaches are hindering the development of the sport in the country.
The Federation is planning to conduct two Shuttle Time Teachers courses in different states, other than Tunis, in a few months’ time.
To be able to plan and implement the Shuttle Time programme, there was the need to train the Shuttle Time Coordinators on how to plan and strategically review the Shuttle Time programme locally. The Federation, therefore, held a Shuttle Time Strategic Review and planning session on 21st March 2021. Additionally, a Conference on Tunisian Badminton and their Future Horizons was held in Tozeur on 22nd March 2021. The Participants were drawn from the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Youth and Sports, the Government of Tozeur State, representatives from BCA, President of Arab Badminton Federation and the President of Tunisian Badminton Federation among others.
The conference deliberated on various topics including strategic planning, training of resource persons (coaches, players, administrators, technical officials, etc), forthcoming major events, AirBadminton development and others. In their speeches, the governmental authorities present pledged their support to the Tunisian Badminton Federation in their development programmes. With all these capacity building programmes, and the government support, the Tunisia Badminton Federation is geared for a vibrant badminton season which will end with the organisation of the African University Badminton Championships 2021 (10 – 12 December) and the All Africa School Championships 2021 (14 – 19 December).