Ignite Badminton League: Inspiring Women in Sport

Press Release: April 07, 2016

When we think of female role models in sport, the first people that come to mind are often the highest profile celebrities of the athletic world. While positive role models can be found in both amateur and professional sports, it is often the everyday individuals that young girls see who make the biggest difference.

Following a series of Ignite Badminton League ties that transpired this past Sunday night on Markham’s E Badminton courts, IBL sat down to chat with five feisty females who are eager participants in the league’s monthly matches.

Cara de Belle first picked up a racquet at the age of three. Her initial exposure to the sport took place outdoors at a local park with her Dad, who just happens to be the Head Badminton Professional at Toronto’s Granite Club, Mike de Belle.

Cara de Belle & Sarah GaleCara spoke candidly about the role that badminton plays when it comes to empowering women in sport.

“I think, honestly, it’s that it gives you something to train for. When I play, it completely takes my mind off homework and other stressful things. And when you have a specific goal in mind, that just makes you try even harder and persevere. I look forward to badminton even when I’m at school – just thinking about it makes my day better.”

Of Ignite Badminton League, Cara offered the highest appreciation.

“IBL gives us all a lot of intense sparring opportunities. It’s a lot like a tournament setting where you want to do really well and try your hardest. At the end of the day, this league is just really good for the entire province because we get to play lots of games against a lot of different people.”

Ignite Badminton League recognizes the importance athletes – young and old – having access to quality badminton ties. The league’s younger female athletes having positive role models within the organization is an added bonus that is seen by many as a gift.

Sarah Gale first picked up a badminton racquet when she was five. It wasn’t exactly love at first sight for Sarah, but she enjoyed it enough to eventually return to it in grade six. Wiser now, Sarah is more laudatory when she describes her passion for playing as a member of IBL.

“It’s so much fun! I really just enjoy it all the time. But it’s also a great workout and a fun way to meet new people. The thing about this sport is that it’s a little bit uncommon. You don’t often hear about girls playing badminton, so I like that it’s different.”

Gale, who trains with Cara de Belle at the Granite Club in Toronto, points out that she has fewer opportunities to compete against multiple rivals on the court.

“Ignite Badminton League is a lot of help to Cara and I because we train at the Granite Club with only two other girls. We don’t really get to train with as many other Juniors as they do here (in Markham). Being part of Ignite Badminton League means that we get to play against other Juniors – something we don’t normally get to do – and that really helps us with our game.”

The diverse benefits of sports for girls are well known. Sport teaches commitment, respect for others, how to relax, as well as how to concentrate under stress, set and achieve goals, accept responsibility and failure, and it teaches girls how to be gracious winners. Research has shown, time and time again, that physical activity and sport enhances the mental, psychological and spiritual health of Canadian girls and young women. Ignite Badminton League members consistently attest to that.

Catherine Choi & Talia NgCatherine Choi and Talia Ng train together at E Badminton in Markham. They are also both members of Ignite Badminton League. Catherine was eight when she first discovered badminton; Talia was 9. Over the past five years Talia has learned a great deal about her sport. Specifically, she recognizes that her time with IBL has given her an opportunity to connect with other players, just like members of a squad.

“IBL helps us, first of all, to bond as a team. Catherine and I are actual partners for Provincial and National tournaments, but Ignite Badminton League gives us additional practice time together. Playing with IBL is also great, because we get to see where we’re at against top players, older players, even masters players.”

Having a role model in sport is an important part of social learning that allows girls to emulate the positive aspects of attitude, work ethic, and social dynamics. Moreover, role models provide girls with the opportunity to envision themselves in the role of coach or leader – positions that they may not have otherwise considered.

Debbie Tom, Club Director at Bujack Badminton Club in Toronto, is one such role model. She was 27 when she first fell in love with badminton while watching masters athletes play – many of which were in their seventies – at the Granite Club.

Deborah Tom“These players were fabulous! I looked at these women who were fit, who were lean, who were toned, who were fast . . . and I said ‘I want to grow old like that’.”

Back then, Debbie claims she had very little working knowledge of the sport, but she knew herself well enough to know that an activity that was deemed accessible, convenient, and quick would be the one to resonate with her.

“I was looking for an indoor sport, something that I could pick up and play all the time. But I also wanted something that was fast-paced and interesting, and to me, badminton fit that. Through an organization like Ignite Badminton League, I know I can be active for life. IBL gives me an opportunity to play more games against people that I wouldn’t otherwise be connected with, but there’s no pressure here for me to play super-competitively.”

Before IBL was formed, there were scarce, if any, opportunities for women to continue competing in the sport past their mid-twenties. The same is true for many other sports, where masters competitions are few and far between. Staying active, however, and participating in sports such as badminton, can prevent chronic diseases such as heart disease and obesity, while also lowering rates of substance abuse, and reducing risky behaviors in teens. Young girls who participate in sport are shown to have improved teamwork and communication skills, increased graduation rates, and leadership skills that can guide them to achievement opportunities in school and at work.

Today's girls need to see sport as an essential part of their everyday lives, and Ignite Badminton League is one example of an organization that is helping many do just that. Having female masters athletes that the younger women can look up to and aspire to be adds an impetus and a motivator to push forward. At IBL, fellow players essentially act as everyday inspiration in each other’s lives when it comes to staying involved in the game.

Before our attention is completely swallowed up by the mounting anticipation of Rio 2016, now might be as good a time as any to salute the local positive role models who are inspiring young girls daily.

Sunday night’s IBL results have been posted for your convenience. Ignite Badminton League would like to thank the above-mentioned five feisty females for their support.


For more information, please contact: Sarah Miller, Sport Development Canada, cell (905) 749-0361 or e-mail saraheamiller@sympatico.ca

Photos courtesy of Bryan Swift

@2016 lgnite Badminton League
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