Room 101 in a hotel in central Birmingham on an overcast morning and a new and possibly unique venture is launched.
Top players from the world of badminton, gathered for last week’s annual All England championships, gave up their time for a media conference to lend the sport’s muscle to a new charity called Solibad.
Brainchild of French photo-journalist Raphael Sachetat, its name in French is Badminton Sans Frontieres, echoing the renowned Medecins Sans Frontieres.
The aim is to pull together human and financial resources to raise funds through the badminton community and beyond to help small-scale projects.
Two are already under way at orphanages in Bali and Kuala Lumpur. Solibad is also engaged with another charity, Peace and Sport, on a project called “1,000 Rackets for Haiti.”
This aims to collect badminton equipment to help Haitian youngsters living in survivor camps to overcome their trauma and to resume living together in confidence.
“It’s exciting for me and I know the players are excited,” Sachetat, 37, said on the eve of the Solibad launch. “It’s unique, I think, because it’s the first time so many players in one sport and the overall community have come together to support one foundation or one cause. I may be wrong, but I’ve not seen that in any other sports. It’s usually one star that has his own foundation, but everybody coming together from the top stars to the leisure players, all for one cause, I think it’s unique.”
Those lending support at the media launch included former Olympic gold medalist Taufik Hidayat of Indonesia, England’s doubles supremo Nathan Robertson, former All England women’s titleholder Zhou Mi of China and world-ranked No. 1 men’s doubles player Koo Kien Keat of Malaysia.
In addition, Pi Hongyan, the Chinese-born woman player who represents France and is world-ranked five, has been involved from the start and is playing a major role.
Others lending backing include Denmark’s Jan Jorgensen, Nguyen Tien Minh from Vietnam, Germany’s Marc Zwiebler and Dutchwoman Judith Meulendijks.
They and all the others will act as Solibad ambassadors, backing the projects and spreading the word.
Sachetat spent some time in the field in Africa when training to be a doctor before, as he puts it, being “kidnapped” by badminton.
For the past 10 years he has followed the international circuit, becoming almost as familiar a face as the players themselves.
The new English Web site (www.solibad.net) publishes information on Solibad resources and highlights action and concrete assistance in the field. The latest money-raiser is an auction of one of the shirts worn by world number one Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia on the way to his first All England title which he won on Sunday.
“This all brings together my twin passions for badminton and humanitarian work. I am very excited,” Sachetat said.
DRIVING AMBITION: ‘I was excited by playing at the Olympics ... Who knows what’s going to happen? Hopefully, I could have a chance to win a medal,’ Tiffany Chan said After just three tournaments this year, a chance of Olympic glory postponed and two weeks alone in quarantine, golfer Tiffany Chan could be forgiven for feeling sorry for herself. Instead, Hong Kong’s first LPGA Tour player is sporting a broad grin and taking the positives from the game’s COVID-19 shutdown, determined to establish herself in the fiercely competitive world of women’s golf. The talented 26-year-old kept herself fit physically and mentally during the lockdown, and is happy to be back on the fairways since the easing of coronavirus restrictions last month. “When I came back to Hong Kong [in March], I actually did
Eleven-year-old skateboarder Sky Brown, who is hoping to become Britain’s youngest Olympian next year, fractured her skull and broke bones in her left hand after falling from a ramp during a training session in California. Brown posted a video of the accident on Instagram, but reassured supporters that she was fine. “I don’t usually post my falls or talk about them ... but this was my worst fall. I just want everyone to know that it’s OK — don’t worry, I’m OK,” she said. “I’m going to push boundaries for girls with my skating and surfing. I’m going for gold in 2021
Zhu Ting stands tall in China — and not just because she is 1.98m tall. The 25-year-old farmer’s daughter has emerged from a poor village life to become a totem of the country’s sporting ambitions. As captain and figurehead of China’s women’s volleyball team, the reigning Olympic champions, Zhu is one of the country’s biggest stars. State television once feted her as “an invincible and dominant superhero.” A nurse fighting the COVID-19 pandemic in March posted a photograph of herself wearing a white protective suit with a picture of the volleyball star drawn on it — also scribbled were the words: “Proud that
A feel-good campaign allowing fans to have cardboard cutouts of themselves at Australian rugby league games has been hijacked by pranksters, with a notorious serial killer among those making an appearance — while one TV show edited an image of Adolf Hitler into the crowd. The NRL launched “Fan In The Stand” to coincide with the sport’s return at the weekend after its season was put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Supporters are barred from stadiums under strict health protocols, but can pay A$22 (US$15) to have their photograph printed on a life-size cutout and placed in the stands of