GymBad: An inclusive mix of gymnastics and badminton
The ‘GymBad’ partnership allows the sports to join forces and share resources to make more participants active through Shuttle Time and gymnastics activities, while having a particular focus on inclusion.
In order to adapt their Shuttle Time sessions to a diverse range of participants, PNG utilise specialised equipment, such as oversized shuttlecocks and modified Shuttle Time activities to the group who have a range of visual and physical impairments.
“The big shuttle was donated to us and it’s been a great success with our disability groups. Some activities include balancing it on the head and doing a relay. Other times for throwing through a target (for example, a hoop) it helps all, regardless of disabilities,” says PNG President, Kini Karo.
“I’ve used it many a times for both the para training sessions and the Shuttle Time sessions to introduce Paras on the motions of badminton and for overhead shots and clears. By dividing them into two teams, they compete with each other using the massive shuttlecock as their ball, with the rules very much similar to netball,” says PNG Para badminton coach, Brian Karo.
Similarly, gymnastics skills are learned progressively and can be modified to be more challenging, or broken down into more manageable pieces as required. For example, the beginning of a handstand could start with “bunny hops” along the ground on hands and feet to develop upper body strength. A handstand can then progress to be performed inward against a wall (or tree), removing the risk of over-rotating and crashing on the ground. Of course, each of these activities could be performed on one hand, on one leg, lower or higher or be modified in other ways to ensure that every participant is individually challenged.
Over the last year, Pacific Games gold medallist in powerlifting Linda Pulsan has been trained to deliver the GymBad sessions and continues to assist with delivery as they continue to expand across the country.
“We were delighted to welcome Linda to our sessions. She brings a wealth of knowledge from her own powerlifting career and transferrable skills to our sport, inspiring the children along the way”, says Brian.
The PNG partnership has been in effect for over three years and the effects started to show at this year’s VICTOR Oceania Para Badminton Championships 2020, where PNG sent their first ever contingent to an international badminton tournament. The four participants: Jerome Bunge, David Joe Kaniku, Danny Ten and Nelly Ruth Leva returned home with a total of three medals and are also now a crucial part of the delivery team, as they are often spotted assisting and inspiring participants at Shuttle Time and GymBad sessions.
Bronze medallist from the Continental Championships, Danny Ten, has been an active participant of the PSP programme since it was first introduced, which has eventually led to his role as a GymBad volunteer coach. “It helps me a lot to build on my body strength and it gives me an opportunity to teach younger kids with disabilities about badminton. All the while, I am learning new things about gymnastics too”, says Danny Ten
In 2019 alone, 7,500 participants took part in GymBad sessions, with 19% of those taking part with disabilities.
Tom Leonard is the Communications Manager at Badminton Oceania.