The opportunity to join the BEC Centre of Excellence is truly a once in a lifetime-experience for a lot of players. And many have travelled far on their own for the first Pre-Selection Camp in Vejen to pursue a future in high performance badminton.
One of them is Lilit Poghosyan from Armenia. She is 20 years old and started playing badminton when she was four. Besides being fully committed to a life in badminton, Lilit studies Journalism at Yerevan Brusov University of Languages and Social Sciences, and speaks English, Russian and Turkish besides her native tongue.
She is the oldest player in her country, and is practicing singles only since she does not have a fellow player her age to train with:
“We don’t have any clubs in Armenia, and don’t have that many players, like, I am the oldest one. I train alone maybe sometimes with players who are 12-13 years old. And also, we have an 80-year-old woman, and sometimes I play with her. But mainly I train with my father individually. He is my coach.”
To get a chance to join the Centre of Excellence is something she has always dreamed of. Lilit sees this as her chance to reach new heights with her badminton, and step towards her goal which is to compete in Tokyo 2020. Relatively big dreams for a player who is training with peers in the same age group for the first time in her life. So, with a hard work-ethic and positive attitude, players like these could be fitting for a project like this.
When asked if she was willing to leave Armenia for a spot at the Centre of Excellence, she quickly responded without hesitation: “For my dream I can do anything. I’m ready. This was the greatest opportunity I could ever imagine in my life.”
Women in badminton
Lilit looks up the women’s single-player Nozomi Okuhara from Japan; “She is not so tall just like me. I like to watch how she moves.”
Until this Monday, she has never been trained by a woman before. The players were divided into four different groups with a coach in charge of each and Nicola Cerfontyne is training the group of girls where Lilit was placed. Being trained by a woman has left a good impression on the young Armenian:
“Working with a woman coach is much better I think, because she understands me. She understands that I am not a boy and I am not as strong. And she understands that and gives us good advice on how to change our game.”
Lilit also admits that even though this is like a dream for her, she was nervous before coming to Vejen. It was the first time she had travelled alone, and she had started to doubt that she could do it by herself. But with the support from her mother she got on the plane:
“My mother just encouraged me and told me that I have to go here. And this is what I have been waiting for and worked for, for years and years – my whole life. My father also encouraged me all the time; This is our goal. This is what we are living and training for.”
Whether Lilit or any of the other 31 players gets offered a spot at the BEC Centre of Excellence will not be decided after this week. In 2017, Badminton Europe will organize two additional pre-selection camps before the centre starts up in September. The players will receive a letter from Badminton Europe after the pre-selection camp, with word of their future in the Centre of Excellence-project.