Badminton joined a select group of sports when it made a successful debut at the Finals of the fifth UAE School Olympics last week, with 173 players (89 boys and 84 girls) contesting the Under 11, Under 13 and Under 15 categories.
In October last year it was announced that badminton would be the first racquet sport to be included in the School Olympics, joining athletics, swimming, judo, taekwondo, fencing, archery, shooting, and jiu-jitsu.
Following the announcement, Shuttle Time Dubai, which has been operating in Dubai for three years, extended its Dubai-based programmes and worked with the National Olympic Committee and Ministry of Education to support the establishment of 18 Badminton School Olympic Training Centres across the UAE.
In Dubai, the National Training Centres established in 2015 received additional support from the National Olympic Committee and Ministry of Education to serve as the Olympic Training Centres. The Centres saw an estimated 500 players training three times per week.
To support the introduction of the Training Centres in other emirates, Shuttle Time Dubai conducted teaching courses in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain, Ras Al Khaimah and Ajman to equip teachers with the skills to train the children involved in the badminton programme.
In addition, Shuttle Time Dubai also donated 500 racquets, 400 shuttlecocks and 25 portable nets to the Badminton School Olympic Training Centres.
The extensive preparation across the UAE paid off last week, with an exciting competition in both the girls’ and boys’ three age categories at the UAE School Olympics.
The team representing Dubai dominated the competition, taking home all but four of the medals, with five gold, five silver and ten bronze in their total haul of 20 medals. The team from Eastern Sharjah also performed well against more experienced opposition, taking home one gold, one silver and two bronze.