Disability Junior Championships proves huge success

The Disability Junior Championships 2024 proved to be another huge success upon its return to the English Institute of Sport for a second year running.

One of two North West teams emerged victorious overall on the day, among a total of 24 participants who travelled to Sheffield from across the country.

Delivered with the support of the GB Para Badminton squad and coaches, the competition helped to engage new disabled players, providing many with their first introduction to not only badminton but disability sport.

Budding shuttlers aged 9-16 with a physical disability, including wheelchair users, savoured a day to remember on court in an engaging and encouraging environment.

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Regional manager for the North, Rebecca Lewis said: “It showed that badminton can be played and is being played by everybody.

“For some of them it was their first time competing in badminton, to show that there is a pathway there and that they’re a part of it now, they’re a part of that learning as well.

“This is not a one off thing, this is a part of their continued learning which is really good to see.”

The event was also hosted as part of Badminton England’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Strategy, which includes increasing disability provision.

Paris 2024 Paralympic hopefuls Jack Shephard and Rachel Choong were also in attendance, a day before they travelled to the Bahrain Para Badminton International.

The SH6 World No.1 mixed doubles pair inspired the next generation as players saw the visible pathways available to them to pursue the sport further.

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Lewis said: “It’s important for these athletes to see the likes of Rachel and Jack and think they look like me and are competing at the elite level.

“The fact they were there supporting and cheering was fantastic.

“Across the day, there were people competing with a range of disabilities in the same tournament, all supporting each other so it really was a good showcase of how inclusive badminton can be.

“It’s important for these athletes to see them competing at the elite level. The fact they were there supporting and cheering was fantastic.

National safeguarding lead Victoria Brown played an integral role in organising the event, readying players by facilitating regional coaching sessions at the same venue.

By the time players arrived for the Disability Junior Championships, many were already familiar with the EIS as coaches worked hard to create a welcoming atmosphere.

Four volunteers from the Young Leaders helped to score and rally participants to help the day flow as efficiently as possible.

Lewis added: “They did a fantastic job, I can’t knock it, they were a great assets and hopefully in the future they’ll come back or encourage others to come along as well.”

Pictures courtesy of Alan Spink – see here for the full gallery.

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