10 young athletes from Cook Islands and 2 from Tonga travelled to Tauranga, New Zealand to take part in the badminton competition at the 2016 AIMS Games last week. The AIMS Games is an annual multi-sport competition for Intermediate & Middle school students, and has grown over the years to 9300 competitiors this year – it’s as close as 11-13 year olds get to the Olympics!
BWF’s Shuttle Time Schools Badminton Programme proved to be an excellent springboard into this level of competition as the participants from Tonga’s Liahona School and Cook Island’s Apii Avarua and Nukutere College showed good skill and a lot of heart to achieve performances which placed them in the top half of the competition in their first ever tournament. Being the only international visitors to the event meant additional media interest with TV interviews and articles in the local Bay of Plenty Times newspaper.
Tonga was the first country in the world to implementShuttle Time back in 2011 and this showed with the boys able to show their strength taking each other on in the final of division 2 of singles, and winning the 3rd/4th playoff in division 1 of doubles to take an AIMS Games bronze medal home.
Cook Islands established Shuttle Time in their schools last year, and just 4 months of preparation, training and fundraising to attend their first big competition saw these players showing off their athletic talent fighting it out in divisions 2-4, taking a win in division 4 of the girls’ singles and division 3 of girls’ doubles competition.
AIMS Games is the perfect step from Shuttle Time into player development, as well as gaining a huge amount of badminton experience all participants gained huge life experience, whether it was their first trip overseas or meeting many new friends – we hope to see more Oceania teams taking part next year!
Follow the latest updates and development with Badminton Cook Islands on their Facebook page.