Badminton Life

Filipino Event Lures Young Talent

The Philippines may not be a badminton power. But the success of the country's youth programme may one day see a top Filipino player fighting on equal terms with the rest of the world.

One such example is the Toby's Youth Badminton Championships, a pioneering development tournament designed for young players to play in a competitive environment.

The tournament in Pasig City on the outskirts of Manila was launched six years ago by Toby Claudio, vice president for operations at Toby's Sports. He believes that ensuring good youth development is the best way of producing a steady stream of talent.

"Often, we believe that training is for a selected pool of very talented athletes. But the key to develop and hone players is to offer the opportunity to as many kids as possible. From here, players will emerge as they learn in the court and during their early training," Claudio was quoted as saying in the Philippine Inquirer.

Badminton is not one of the major sports among Filipinos, most of whom follow basketball with a passion.

Badminton has been generally the domain of the middle-class and young badminton players who want to improve themselves face many difficulties in getting a chance to play organised competition as well as receiving exposure for their efforts.

The Toby's tournament has succeeded in helping young players take the step towards greater things. Already at least 10 youngsters from the event have progressed into the national team.

Apart from using the tournament as a stepping stone, it is also a good way for kids to be active and compete against their peers, enabling them to enjoy a healthy lifestyle.

Added Claudio: "More than building the physical skills, sports like badminton can help players learn sportsmanship, fair play, discipline, hard work and training ¡ª essentials to building one's character."

One of the key factors in helping the youngsters focus on the competition itself is that no prize money is awarded. Instead, winners are given clothes and equipment provided by the sponsors.

This year's event has attracted about 1,000 players, ranging in age from eight to 18. The competition runs from the end of October to the middle of November.

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