Home2018Badminton growing big in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Badminton growing big in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Thanks to Badminton Asia's "Shuttle Time" programme in 2016 the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has embarked on a massive drive to take the game to greater heights in the country.

Saudi Arabia is not only making its debut in the Badminton Asia Junior Championships in Bintaro, Jakarta but will also make its debut in next month's Asian Games in Indonesia.

In the on-going Pembangunan Jaya Raya Badminton Asia Junior Championships, Saudi Arabia did not compete in the Mixed Team event which ended on Tuesdaybut is competing in the men's individual events – the singles and doubles.

They are represented in the men's singles by 14-year-old Abdulaziz Alothman, Muath Alghamdi (16 years); Nawaf Alghamdi (16 years) and Abdullah Alharthi (16 years). Abdulaziz and Abdullah also team up in the doubles.
 
Saudi Badminton Federation (SBF) has hired a coach from Syria, Ammar Awad, a former Mediterranean singles champion and Syrian national champion who has been coaching in Saudi Arabia the last three years.

"We have plans. We have goals," said Ammar, who is with the team in Jakarta. The Saudi team has been in Jakarta for the past month for a training camp with Pembangunan Jaya Raya Academy.

The Saudis are thinking big and their target is the 2024 Olympics in Paris.

"It is a high target we have set upon us but I am confident we will make the grade to the Olympics. The present men's team is made up of players aged between 14 and 16…by they will around 21," said Ammar, adding that the exposure in the Asian Junior Championships is "just the beginning" for badminton in Saudi Arabia.

Football rates No 1 in the kingdom followed by basketball which means the funds from the government for badminton is not in the same category as football and basketball. 
"We have to source for sponsors for badminton apart from the limited funds from the government. However, we hope that badminton will soon become as popular as the football and basketball." 

The SBF has already started at grassroots by going to the schools and according to Ammar, there is plenty of badminton talent which speaks well for the game.

The Saudi juniors did not fare well in the Badminton Asia Junior meet- losing all their matches in the singles and doubles in the first round.

Abdulaziz went out 5-21, 6-21 to Indonesia's Christian Adinata in 18 minutes while Muath followed suit with a much better show against Myanmar's Aung Kaung who won 21-16, 17-21, 21-10 in 30 minutes.

In the doubles, Abdullah-Abdulaziz fell 9-21, 7-21, to Che Pui Ngai-Pui Pang Fong in another 18-minute encounter.

"The defeats were expected but the exposure and experience will do the players good in time to come. We need international tournaments and I am confident Saudi Arabia will soon make an impact in the sport," added Ammar, who played in the 2011 Asian Championships in Chengdu, China where he lost to Lin Dan in the round of 32.
 

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