Recently, badminton had the honour of becoming the first racquet sport introduced into the UAE School Olympics, with children in the region showing off their prowess on the courts. And with participation numbers growing steadily, more and more schools have officially added it to their curriculums.
One group that has been instrumental in the growth of the sport is Shuttle Time Dubai, the Badminton World Federation’s (BWF) grassroots development programme, which aims to encourage participation across the community. The initiative is implemented through a range of programmes and activities, including the establishment of National Training Centres, and the organisation of schools and club championships, as well as providing affordable courts at Dubai Sports World each summer.
So, what does badminton offer players and why is it proving such a big hit? Jaffer Ebrahim, Dubai badminton development manager at BWF, feels what makes it stand out is its fun factor and the fact it is such a simple game that offers many health benefits. “It’s a sport that can be played and enjoyed by people of all ages and abilities,” he tells Time Out Kids. “It develops physical fitness, agility and balance, as well as developing gross and fine motor skills.”
There are not just physical benefits to playing the game either, he says, as children also learn teamwork, organisational skills, leadership and sportsmanship.
Shuttle Time helps young players to reach for the top through its tournaments and has brought several star badminton players to the UAE to inspire the children here. “Enabling children to meet their heroes helps them to strive for their goals,” Ebrahim comments. “We have enjoyed having talented players over, including Saina Nehwal and Srikanth Kidambi from India, Peter Gade from Denmark and Chen Long from China. They have taken the time to coach and play with the kids at the Shuttle Time Dubai Schools Championships.”
There are now ten academies offering professional badminton coaching in Dubai for children, as well as a variety of clubs encouraging young kids to play. So, perhaps it’s time to pick up your own racquets together and join in the fun.
Four to try Badminton academies
Deepika Badminton Academy
Renowned coach Deepika passes on her expertise to the children of Dubai.
From Dhs100. Training locations across Dubai. www.badminton-dubai.com (055 370 3035).
Prime Star Sports Academy
Train hard and play hard with lessons that balance fun and development.
Prices on request. Training locations across Dubai. www.primestaruae.com (055 200 7182).
Professional Sports Academy
Coaches put children through their paces at multiple venues across Dubai.
Dhs1,500 (for ten classes). Training locations across Dubai. www.psauae.com (052 907 8179).
Xtra Sports Academy
World-class badminton training is available at Xtra Sports Academy from certified and qualified coaches.
Price on request. Training locations across Dubai. www.facebook.com/xtrabadminton (055 780 7322).