SINGAPORE; 24 January 2022 – On Friday 21 January 2022, a virtual Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signing was conducted via zoom to celebrate a three-year partnership and commitment between Badminton Oceania and Special Olympics Asia-Pacific. The MOU aims to develop opportunities for persons with intellectual disabilities across the continent. Executive Board and staff members from Badminton Oceania, the Badminton World Federation and Special Olympics attended the call, with both Presidents attending to digitally sign the MOU: Geraldine Brown (Badminton Oceania) and Dipak Natali (Special Olympics).
“The adrenaline, rigours, camaraderie, and joy in sports we experience, are often not extended to people with intellectual disabilities. It is this need for inclusion that drives Special Olympics to level the playing field, by reaching out to our athletes and bringing them out of isolation, having them gain confidence day-by-day, with each interaction and game they play. This can only be done with committed partners like Badminton Oceania who have offered not just their time, expertise and network but embraced what it means to be inclusive. Even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we've seen badminton participation in the Pacific region grow by bringing together athletes, partners and coaches, demonstrating the power of sport in building community bonds and promoting inclusion. We are delighted that BOC's continued commitment will help build on and deepen the experience—so that Badminton remains accessible to our athletes and a sport they can enjoy, and that is a triumph for all."
Both organizations pride themselves on their shared values surrounding inclusiveness and excellence, advocating for high quality sporting experiences and opportunities for all, regardless of age, gender, race and ability.
With development at the forefront, Shuttle Time will be pivotal in the implementation of activities. The grassroots program is accessible to all and provides a bank of resources for teachers and students to learn the fundamentals of badminton. Special Olympics pledge to support and endorse Badminton Oceania with the upskilling of badminton coaches and Shuttle Time workforce and enabling more participation opportunities for persons with physical and intellectual disabilities. Additionally, the two parties will facilitate the potential opportunities for Special Olympics competition.
“As president of Badminton Oceania, I am delighted to sign this Memorandum of Understanding with Special Olympics to commit to the continuing development of badminton opportunities for persons with intellectual disabilities. This provides a strong message that we are keen to collaborate, work with both existing and new partners and maximise opportunities for all in this region. I look forward to seeing how we progress over the next three years and beyond.”
The agreement builds on previous work and an MOU which was signed in 2018, where Guam National Badminton Federation benefited from a thriving partnership with Special Olympics Guam (SOG), utilizing Shuttle Time to reach out to people with intellectual disabilities. This was also a crucial element of their BWF Membership Grant in 2020/21, which had key objectives to deliver more Shuttle Time sessions alongside SOG throughout 2021.
The new MOU will target countries including Fiji, Guam, Samoa and Papua New Guinea—with the latter leveraging off the Inclusive GymBad programme which shares the aim to development opportunities in badminton for those with physical and intellectual disabilities.
The partnership also falls within the wider remit of the BWF-Special Olympics International Global Development Strategy 2020-2024 which was announced in 2020, acknowledging the fast-developing pace of badminton in the Special Olympics world, with more than 370,000 players engaged worldwide.
“I am pleased to see Special Olympics Asia Pacific and Badminton Oceania formalizing their commitment to supporting the development of Badminton in the region. Badminton continues to grow within the Special Olympics movement globally, and particularly in the Asia-Pacific region, where a tremendous effort has gone into expanding opportunities for Special Olympics athletes to enjoy our sport.
A key aspect of the BWFs strategy with Special Olympics International is the activation of partnerships at the regional, national, and local level. This signing is an important step forward in our shared objective to make badminton one of the most accessible and participated activities within the Special Olympics movement”, says BWF Senior Development Manager, John Shearer
"Special Olympics Asia Pacific and Badminton Oceania have demonstrated tremendous leadership for athletes, partners and coaches in the region to experience the sport of badminton since the inception of their partnership in 2018. We know that by using the power of sport, people with intellectual disabilities can live active, healthy, and fulfilling lives. Special Olympics and Badminton World Federation's vision is to provide meaningful opportunities for people with an intellectual disability to be involved in all aspects of badminton, and we could not achieve this vision without the commitment and collaboration of our regional partners. As Badminton Oceania and Special Olympics Asia Pacific reaffirm this commitment through the signing of an MOU, we look forward to seeing the impact continue to grow and provide quality opportunities for Special Olympics athletes, partners and coaches to experience the benefits of badminton”, says Special Olympics Manager of Sport Development, Maggie Brennan.
About Special Olympics Asia Pacific
Special Olympics is a non-profit charitable organization that provides year-round sports training and competition in a variety of Olympics-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. Aside from sporting activities it is the world’s largest provider of healthcare to people with intellectual disabilities.
Founded in 1968, Special Olympics is a global movement to end discrimination against people with intellectual disabilities. We foster acceptance of all people through the power of sport and programming in education, health and leadership. With more than six million athletes and Special Olympics Unified Sports® partners in over 190 countries and territories and more than one million coaches and volunteers, Special Olympics delivers more than 30 Olympic-type sports and over 100,000 games and competitions every year. Special Olympics Asia Pacific (SOAP) supports more than 2.1 million athletes with intellectual disabilities across 35 countries.
About Badminton Oceania
Badminton Oceania (based in Auckland, New Zealand) is the continental governing body for badminton across Oceania, working under the flagship of the Badminton World Federation. Australia and New Zealand were the founding members when the organisation was formed in 1987. Today there are 17 member associations across the continent.
Badminton Oceania is on a mission to make badminton the leading regional sport, accessible to all. Through collaborative partnerships with our members, there are a number of development programmes and initiatives which aid the growth and development of badminton across the continent, including Shuttle Time, AirBadminton, Coach Education, Player Development, Para badminton, Special Olympics and international events.
About Special Olympics
Founded in 1968, Special Olympics is a global movement to end discrimination against people with intellectual disabilities. We foster acceptance of all people through the power of sport and programming in education, health, and leadership. With more than six million athletes and Unified Sports partners in over 190 countries and territories and more than one million coaches and volunteers, Special Olympics delivers more than 30 Olympic-type sports and over 100,000 games and competitions every year. Engage with us on: Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, LinkedInand our blog on Medium. Learn more at www.SpecialOlympics.org.