WIB Awards: Why they matter
Date: 7/4/2013 3:35 PM
Published by : Manuel Røsler

By Emma Mason, Chair, Women in Badminton working group

Earlier this year I had the pleasure of presenting one of two awards at the inaugural Badminton Europe Awards Gala Dinner that celebrated the promotion and development of Women in European badminton. As chair of Badminton Europe’s Women in Badminton working group I was acting in a professional capacity but the awards themselves, and the reason for them, are also personally important.

As a former female player and now a young female working within the sport the issue of developing and promoting women in sport is one that is close to my heart. My ambition within Women in Badminton is to encourage a greater equality of gender diversity within Europe at all levels of our sport; this requires a concerted effort to seek out and nurture the talented and ambitious females we have within our member associations. At a player level we have an advantage over other sports as men and women compete in an equal number of events and we have roughly equal participation rates. Moreover, Badminton is one of the sole sports that gives same price money to both male and female disciplines. I strongly believe that within Badminton we need to do more capitalise on this advantage: we need to find ways to ensure this translates into our coaching, management and technical official areas. This keeps those women close to the sport they are passionate about after their career on court and increases the diversity of talent in areas that are still dominated by men.

I was delighted with the strength of the projects put forward for the Women in Badminton Awards this year. The two winners, project and person of the year, exemplify the kind of project that can help European Badminton nurture female talent within our sport and equip our young females with the tools that will help them become world class players. Below is a brief description of what the awards meant to the winners and how they hope to positively affect the development of women in Badminton. I hope their stories will be an inspiration to those who share my sentiment that Europe has many undiscovered talented females. Whether by following the examples below or otherwise we must do more as a continent to identify, nurture and promote out female talent. 

I would like to take this opportunity to remind all member associations that the Women in Badminton working group is holding its inaugural coaching conference at the BEC Summer School on July 14th 2013. For those who are unable to attend in person the event will be videoed and shown subsequently on the Badminton Europe YouTube site. I would encourage all those with an interest to attend or watch the conference: it is an opportunity to listen and share ideas with like-minded individuals on the promotion of women within Europe.

Kirsten Larsen, Person of the Year 2012:

On winning the Award: “It meant a lot to me. First of all, I'm very pleased that Finn from Badminton Denmark took the time to nominate me for my work with the Danish female talents. Then I'm very proud and honoured to win the Award. It gives me the possibility of sharing my ideas with so many more badminton people. I think it is very important that we share knowledge and experience so we can challenge the top Asian players. It is so important for the game, that the players are from many different countries.”

On her ambitions for the future: “It is not easy to find female players, that are so determined, that they will do all that is necessary to become a top female player. But if we are able to motivate the female players by creating good female environment and if we are able to work with and support their confidence, then when they compete I believe we can develop some good players. I also think it is very important the European players copy the Asian way in many aspects, but we have to remember our own culture, we are different in many ways.”

Marija Bulatovic and Andreja Todorovic, Girls Camp Serbia, Project of the Year 2012:

On winning the Award: “The WIB award is a big thing for Andreja and me, the project, local community and the Badminton Association of Serbia. This is the highest recognition for Serbian badminton from Europe. We're really proud.

Andreja and me are the creators and implementers of the project. Every beginning is difficult, and so it was with our project. It is difficult to explain in the Balkans that is something only for girls and women's coaches. Fortunately Badminton Europe has supported us, and we got the status of a regional project.

The first year was very hard and demotivating to us, there were only three of six countries. However, there was a good atmosphere and support and the participants gave us the strength to fight on. The second year two more countries joined. It is great to see the number of quality participants growing and that everyone was happy. This is the first time Serbia has hosted competitors from Austria and seriously enter into a cooperation outside the neighborhood.
 The main basis for participation were good conditions for training and a good coach, all the social activities were a surprise to new participants and were well accepted. We wanted to further introduce our project in Europe.

We had a lot of plans for this year, and the award has given a strong boost. The award officially confirms that we have a great project. In addition to standard support the local community, we are negotiating with new potential sponsors.”

On their ambitions for the future: “The main goal is to include as many countries as possible. The camp will officially have six participating countries, a total of 24 girls and 6 trainers (Austria, Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, Czech Republic and Serbia) with support from BEC and head coach will be Debbie Lynch. Our goal is 10 countries. We do not have the budget to invite teams. The invitation will send promising young coaches and girls. We do not want to reveal which countries are in the plan, until we do not have a clear picture and confirmation from sponsor.

Women working group of Serbian Olympic Committee will support us this year. They will delegate female athletes (hopefully Olympians) as lecturers. I'm sure her story (experience and advice) will have an impact on the further development of girls.

Andreja created a website for a camp that is not yet completely finished. The plan is also a Facebook application (giveaway) that would promote our project and women's badminton at all in complete Europe.”


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