by Curtis J Phillips
Locally, the sport of badminton has showcased in men’s or women’s singles/doubles or mixed doubles, varying talent over the years.
Back in February, Westwood Community High School Trojans graduate Shubham Patel won the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference men’s singles badminton consolation final while wearing the colours of the Grant MacEwan University Griffins in Edmonton.
Griffins’ coach Naeem Haque said of Patel, a first year student and athlete enrolled in Chemistry, “We have been working hard with him. He had the footwork and talent, he just needs more practice.”
In 2013-2014 Trojans Ankush Sharma won the boy’s junior singles and Eilish Quan the girls singles in high school provincial play. Both were in Category II.
Keeping to the high school scene, Fort McMurray Composite High School’s Thayanomon Suwanachan also did well a few years back.
We have to go way back to 1995 though to find one of the kings of the sport as Fort McMurray’s Sonny Lee medaled in the sport of badminton at the Canada Summer Games held in Grande Prairie.
The 2015 Western Canada Summer Games being held in the region from August 7 – August 16 will feature the sport of badminton held along with, baseball, golf, rowing, soccer, softball, swimming, triathlon and volleyball during Phase II August 12-16.
Phase I August 7-11 will highlight the sports of artistic gymnastics, athletics, basketball, beach volleyball, canoeing/kayaking, cycling road, cycling cross country, tennis and wrestling.
The news here is that we will have no local players at badminton with racquet in hand.
But Dave McMaster, Director of Coaching/High Performance Coach for Badminton Alberta, believes that the development of the sport locally is ready to make a big smash.
“Number one let me state, the ability and talent level preceded my expectations of the talent out of Fort McMurray,” said McMaster, who had the opportunity to watch and coach players from our region who were in Edmonton last weekend qualifying for the 2016 Arctic Winter Games to be held March 6-11 in Nuuk and Greenland.
“But for them (to qualify for the 2015 Western Canada Summer Games) to jump from where they are now to the province wide level, it takes a lot,” said McMaster, a main stay in Alberta badminton for more than 30 years who was also on Badminton Canada’s board of directors as VP High Performance from 2004-2007.
“For (rural areas) it is very tough for development of players. You have to have a coach that is able to give the deliverables, facilities for practice and logistically it is difficult to leave your community every two or three weeks to travel to competitions. That is tough to ask. Those are the hurdles you are dealing with.
“You have good coaching in Fort McMurray with stakeholders to move that program forward plus the logistics within the city to secure gym time and push forward.”
For those keeping an eye on the Northern Kickoff, billed as “The Most Northern game in the history of the CFL” the Edmonton Eskimos hosting the Saskatchewan Roughriders in 2015 exhibition pre-season action June 13 at SMS Equipment Stadium at Shell Place, have been busy signing players.
As of press time here are the most recent Eskimos transactions:
Signed International players: wide receiver/kick returner Denarius Appling, defensive backs Deion Belue, D.J. Bryant and Marte Sears, wide receiver Skye Dawson, offensive lineman David Griffin, linebackers Dawud Lane and Kacy Rodgers and finally national defensive back Harold Mutobola.
Landing in the wheat fields of Saskatchewan hoping to make an impact are international Sam Ojuri, running back from North Dakota State and punter Cody Thornton from Graceland University, which is also home of Fort McMurray’s Cassandra Larson playing on the Yellow Jacket’s women’s softball team.
Catch you on the rebound.