BEING in a wheelchair did not stop about 50 badminton enthusiasts from playing their hearts out on court.
The badminton friendly organised by the Beautiful Gate Foundation for the Disabled saw 26 teams taking part with six disabled participants playing alongside able-bodied players who also sat in wheelchairs at the tournament held in SJK (C) Yuk Chai, Petaling Jaya.
“This friendly competition was organised to raise awareness and enable people to experience what it is like to be in a wheelchair,” said the foundation’s representative Ivy Pua.
Able-bodied participants were not allowed to step off the wheelchair or have their feet touch the floor of the court.
“I hope this competition will help participants experience the physical and mental challenges of being disabled.
“But more importantly, I hope the public will realise that the disabled can still play sports just like others,” said Pua.
The competition also acts as a platform for the foundation’s members to show their badminton skills and talents.
Currently, Beautiful Gate organises badminton training sessions for the disabled every Wednesday from 7pm to 9pm for free.
“Who knows? Maybe we will see one of our players representing the country on the international stage in future,” said Pua.
Also present to watch the young talents was badminton legend Datuk Yew Cheng Hoe, who played in the Malaysian Thomas Cup winning team of 1967.
“I hope the government will have a budget to hold bigger tournaments like this so more disabled participants can join,” he said.
The 73-year-old added that badminton is no longer a cheap sport and a little help from the government would definitely encourage more disabled players.
Yew, who has not touched a badminton racquet in 20 years, recalled how he won his first match using only a RM2 racquet.
“It is crazy how expensive badminton has become with some racquets costing RM1,000 and if you add in the wheelchair for disabled players, it can be really pricey,” he said.
Joining him at the event’s launch was Damansara Utama assemblyman Yeo Bee Yin who hoped more opportunities to play badminton would be provided to the disabled.
“We want to create an inclusive society and I believe we can get there through events such as this,” she said.
To help make the event possible, Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) councillor Billy Wong allocated RM2,700 from his funds.