The Power of Asia: Nepal
A few weeks ago, Badminton Asia interviewed Mr. Choi Seoung Kook, the South Korean Coach for the Nepal National Badminton Team and Mr. Ramji Bahadur Hona Shrestha, President of the Nepal Badminton Association, and asked them about the situation in Nepal due to the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic. Like most countries, Nepal had enforced social distancing rules to ensure the health and safety of the people, however this meant that the Badminton players were unable to meet up face-to-face to practice for several months.
Mr. Choi Seung Kook hails from South Korea and is the current coach for the Nepal Badminton Team. He’s over 60 years old and has over 40 years of coaching experience. However, he’s only been the Nepal Coach since March 24, 2020. Excerpts from an interview:
How did you end up coaching the Nepal team? Why did you go there?
I came to Nepal for the 1st time 10 years ago, and at that time the Nepal Badminton team was in a poor situation. I promised I would come back and that I would like to train the Nepalese players. They’re good and are very hardworking, but lack the facilities. So next time, I said that if I have the opportunity, I will come back and train them well. 10 years later, I came back to Nepal to train them.
How has the pandemic affected badminton practice? What have the coaches and players been doing these past few months to stay active?
After I came, I couldn’t coach for 3 months because of the on-going pandemic and the critical condition in Nepal. It’s only been these last 3 weeks that practice and coaching has started to continue.
For the past 3 months, when I wasn’t able to go to the training center, we’ve used video conferences to have the player’s personal training practice. We teach them personal training and physical training skills all through online video conferences.
Now that you are practicing again, how is it different from before?
Now, for the past 3 weeks, players are more interested and enthusiastic to learn from the coach. They are doing much better than the last 4 months!
In addition to their current situation, Mr. Choi also discussed with us about their goals moving forward since most international tournaments have been cancelled this year due to the pandemic. Mr. Choi notes that they will first observe the situation with the CoronaVirus Pandemic, then if there are any improvements, they will discuss further in detail with the Nepal Badminton Association to potentially start tournaments and programs in the future.
We then interviewed Mr. Ramji, the President of the Nepal Badminton Association, about their views on what’s been going on right now and their plans moving forward as a Member Association. Excerpts from an interview:
The situation seems to be getting better, so what’s the plan with badminton in Nepal?
First of all, Nepal isn’t fully ‘normal’ yet, there are some places where cases are increasing. However, badminton is the first sport here to start training. The people and players are very excited. We want to give a good message to the people of Nepal. We have to come out, however we still have to do social distancing though before we can start again.
At the same time, in BWF we have a tournament calendar, in which these tournaments have already been postponed to next year. This September, we were going to organize a Future Series, in November and December we were going to hold one Challenge and one Series, in January, we were going to organize one Junior International. All these tournaments, we’ve postponed for at least 6 months. In this period, players from outside cannot come here, and we cannot host tournaments smoothly and openly. That’s why we’ve postponed them for some time.
Both Mr. Choi and Mr. Ramji have stated that Nepal Badminton and its players are slowly and safely starting practice. Right now, they are taking things one step at a time since things are not fully recovered yet. Most events are still postponed until next year as hopefully the conditions will soon get better.
Badminton in Nepal has continuously been growing in the country, and Badminton Asia has been a strong supporter since the beginning. “We provide them with technical and event management knowledge, support them from the release of invitation/prospectus, on ground guide before and during the tournament, education on the general competition facilities requirements and help them to do better each time” states Chooi Weng Sheng, Badminton Asia’s Head of Events.
Badminton Asia has also supported Nepal through various development programmes, such as our Asia Olympic Project (AOP). “We have supported 2 of their players for almost 5 years now, in support of their Olympic dream.” states Mr. Thanabalan A., Badminton Asia’s Head of Development. He continues, “I have made a few trips to Nepal to gather support from their NOC. Their NOC fully supports BA’s initiatives and are pleased by it. The future for Nepal badminton players are very bright as now there is a clear pathway set and supported by BA for them.”
We hope that the Badminton players of Nepal continue on practicing safely. We wish Nepal Badminton all the best in their plans moving forward and we are committed in supporting them fully.