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Naea named Serve-ing Pacific’s first winner

Tuesday 14 December 2021 | Written by Supplied | Published in Badminton, Sports

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Naea named Serve-ing Pacific’s first winner
Tinomana Naea, back row second from right, with Shuttle Time participants. SUPPLIED/21121311

Cook Islands’ Tinomana Naea has been crowned the first winner of Serve-ing Pacific – Badminton Oceania’s new volunteer recognition programme.

Tinomana Naea was nominated for excelling with ‘inclusiveness’ – one of five organisational values which Badminton Oceania embeds across all programme areas.

Naea is a committee member and Shuttle Time tutor for Badminton Cook Islands and his hard work, loyalty and determination has never faltered since joining the organisation over four years ago, Badminton Oceania said in a statement.

His involvement has been pivotal to the delivery of Shuttle Time and badminton in general across primary and secondary school programmes and after school classes. Other members of the Badminton Cook Islands Committee acknowledged his extreme passion for the sport, “always going the extra mile to balance his own personal and work life with the responsibilities to make room for school children and their ability to learn and develop through badminton”.

Badminton in the Cook Islands has grown tremendously over the last four years (despite the challenges of Covid-19), including the ongoing annual primary school’s tournament (which always starts with a ‘Shuttle Time roadshow’), initiation of a mixed generation tournaments, ladies only sessions and increased Shuttle Time workforce to cater for the increased appetite among children, their parents and wider community groups across the country.

One key highlight in Naea’s time as a volunteer includes the success of a student group from Avarua School who he has been guiding and teaching Shuttle Time for the last two years, who consequently went on to win the junior division of the annual college tournament in 2020.

Thomas Mereana-Ngauru, president of Badminton Cook Islands, said: “He (Naea) is a very proud coach. He definitely claimed the bragging rights, but it definitely goes to show, when you have great people supporting you and the dream, anything is possible.”

“He’s had my back since becoming the president of Badminton Cook Islands and is extremely popular among the schools and their students in the Cook Islands. I know his story will inspire and encourage others to step up, lead and inspire others through sport.”

While his list of motivations to volunteer was endless, some key factors included physical and mental health benefits, the ability to bring people together and in helping children to develop numerous skills.

Naea said: “I’ve enjoyed seeing badminton grow on this island. There are so many people here who didn’t know badminton existed just a few years back – most people only knew about rugby and netball. It’s great to see there is another sport taking off which they can get into. It’s opened up a lot of eyes, especially for the kids.”

“I like helping out people, helping out the kids and enhancing the awareness of badminton across the Cook Islands. For me, it’s all about getting to see the children grow. They start off very young and you watch them grow and some of them go on to win, even at the National Championships and it’s great to see them achieve so much.”

Once again, Badminton Oceania thanks Tinomana Naea for his ongoing work and his commitment to upholding our values, particularly inclusiveness. While he intends to continue volunteering with Badminton Cook Islands for the foreseeable future, he is hoping that he can have an even greater impact on the organisation’s long-term vision by assisting with the planning and implementation of international standard badminton courts to assist their multiple development programmes and potential events.

The prize for each winner in Serve-ing Pacific is a lunch voucher which Naea and a guest can use to support local. Additionally, he will be the first to enter the random six-monthly draw (including the previous six winners) for the ultimate staycation prize, which will be drawn in May, 2022.