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Badminton boosts internal culture

Thursday 9 September 2021 | Written by Supplied | Published in Badminton, Sports

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Badminton boosts internal culture
Air New Zealand Team badminton team members, Nikki Baker-Hill (front) and Roberta Eraio competing in the Cook Islands Social League. SUPPLIED/21090703.

Badminton has soared in popularity over the last two years in the Cook Islands. The sport has capitalised on the Covid-19 lockdowns and guidelines that restricted the country’s contact sports (rugby and soccer) in early 2020.

Shuttle Time (a grassroots badminton initiative) and player development remain at the core of Badminton Cook Islands’ operations and expansion across the country, and most schools include badminton in their extra-curricular activities and participate in an annual tournament.

In the last two years, adults have taken a significant liking to the game too.

The initiation of the ‘ladies-only’ sessions, mixed generation tournaments, 10-week social and elite league challenges have enticed different demographics to walk onto the court for the first time.

Air New Zealand customer service agent Roberta Eraio and her team of colleagues have taken on the sport and participated in the 10-week social challenge.

Not only has it helped to boost team morale, it also complements Air New Zealand’s internal commitment to employee health and wellbeing; a factor which is high on many agendas following the global pandemic.

“None of us have played badminton in the past and we liked that it was social and fun. Competing in the social league brought so much humour and laughter among our team, which regularly extended into memorable team bonding moments after our sessions too.

“Our involvement in badminton has benefited us in a variety of ways. It motivated us to commit to a healthy and sociable activity once a week, which is often difficult under normal circumstances as shift workers. We even started strategising ways to better ourselves in the challenge which aided the improvement of our physical and mental health,” said Eraio.

“Badminton enhanced the bonding as we did not see each other as often during the lockdown. Like a driving force it enabled us to stay connected and positive after our lockdown began to ease and even after the two-way bubble opened,” she said.

For over 80 days, a ‘bubble’ was in operation between New Zealand and the Cook Islands, meaning their team eventually faltered due to the increased demand for tourism.

Nonetheless, the team’s initial participation, reviews and popularity infiltrated their Head Office as more team members signed to participate.

“We have a big family at Air NZ, so we were still able to enter another team into the 8-Week Winter Challenge.

“Although we’re still learning to improve our skills, we now have the added joy of sharing the knowledge with our new players and reminiscing on how fun it was during the Summer Challenge,” said Eraio, “and we fully support the efforts of Badminton Cook Islands in our community and especially the opportunity it offers our youth.”

A study at Coventry University found the exceptional benefits of badminton in developing children’s’ fundamental motor skills.

Moreover, Steve Griffiths, a senior visiting fellow at the World Academy of Sport, has built a career on assisting professional teams to thrive internally and he empathised the importance of using sport as a vehicle to achieve organisational goals.

“From my experience in leading a high-performance referee team to world cups and also leading departmental teams, we were always more successful when everybody in the team bought into the culture, respected each other’s differences and focussed on agreed objectives”, says Griffiths.

The increased interest from such corporate teams and older demographics also laid the foundations for the pilot international master’s (over 35’s) tournament ‘Oceania Masters in Paradise’, which will take place in Rarotonga in May 2022.

Moreover, the badminton experience is about to become even more available with the inception of AirBadminton.

Over the last year, Badminton Oceania has assisted member associations like the Cook Islands to rollout the ‘new outdoor game’ of AirBadminton.

With portables nets, equipment and a more durable shuttlecock, the initiative allows anyone to play badminton outside.

The games is well suited for the Cook Islands, where residents in Aitutaki and Rarotonga have started to enjoy the game on stunning beaches and grassy parklands.

Follow the latest updates and development with Badminton Cook Islands on their Facebook page.

  • Tom Leonard/Badminton Oceania

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