By Sam Cortes, Communications Coordinator



A sport full of power, speed, and technical and tactical skill, badminton will be showcased alongside 19 other sports in PEI next February for the Canada Winter Games (CWG).

Manitoba Badminton Association’s Executive Director, Mélanie Curé, said for many CWG participants, this will be their first opportunity to see the sport played at such a high level.

“Canada just sent its largest badminton team to Tokyo — several of them CWG alumni — along with its first Para Badminton [athlete], Olivia Meier from Winnipeg. We’re excited for those in Charlottetown to see these athletes playing on home soil, representing their province,” said Mélanie.

A total of 10 athletes, five for each gender category plus two alternates, will compete for the podium in men and women’s doubles and singles, or mixed doubles.

Team Toba Badminton Head Coach Justin Friesen said that unlike other sports, you won’t necessarily end up playing what event you normally would at the actual Games.

“Just because you play doubles with someone doesn’t mean that you’ll play doubles with them at Canada Games, [and] doesn’t mean that you’ll play with them at these other tournaments. And same with singles – doesn’t mean you’re going to play singles at Canada Games.”

That’s why Justin said they’ll be looking for well rounded players who can take on multiple roles.


Toba Traits

The ability to adapt is key.

“There’s going to be times where we need someone that fills in a doubles position who may be traditionally a singles player or vice versa, just because of who we’re playing,” said Justin.

They also want athletes who are good team players. 

“Which is, you think, an easy thing to say in sport, but we are an individual sport. This is one of our only team events that we do,” said Justin. “Now we need them to really care for the entire team and try to push everyone ahead.”

With these athletes, Justin said they’ll typically try to do three national events leading up to the CWG as test events and to try out their team pairings.


Physical & Mental Training

In badminton, rallies are typically rather short, about 20 seconds depending on singles or doubles.

But there’s an expectation of high speed and power along with endurance.

In general, Justin said his team will work on their fitness and try to build up the speed as part of their physical training.

“And then working on the racquet skills to have more weapons, more attacking skills, and also just the consistency – to keep rallies alive and stay in the play longer and let them make the mistake first,” said Justin.

They’ll look to the one or two athletes who are Games alumni to be leaders for their teammates, too, to help them with what to expect.

But even so, there are bound to be things that are new and intimidating no matter how much you prepare, and Justin believes talking about how the athletes feel and what they are thinking vs discussions on technique, can actually help.

“Sometimes they’re making poor decisions just because they’re uncomfortable,” said Justin.

For example,a crowd watching in a busy venue can make you nervous and affect your play.

“We try to address that as we go so that those sorts of conversations at the Games aren’t foreign and new, and we can actually be mature and address them before we’re on court, instead of just ignoring them and they pop up in the middle of the game.”


Transferable Skills From Games to Life

From the athlete’s perspective, Justin believes the opportunity of looking back on their experience at Games holds a lot of meaning.

Did they achieve their goals? Did they fail?

“Reflection is healthy, whether it’s sport or general life going forward,” said Justin.

As a coach, he said watching his athletes learn and grow is rewarding in itself, and motivating, too.

Mélanie said multi-sport games provide a great chance for athletes not only to showcase their sports, but to build bonds and learn from others as well. 

“For our sport specifically, the CWG — along with the Manitoba Winter Games — offer one of the few opportunities to compete not only in their individual events, but in team competition as well, like the international Thomas, Uber, and Sudirman cups,” said Mélanie.

Her advice is to enjoy the experience as much as the results, because when the week is over and medals have been handed out, much of what they’ll remember years from now will extend well past the days spent in PEI. 


The Value of Sport

Badminton, like all sports, can be a great teacher, facilitate important life lessons, and create fond memories with people of all ages and from all different backgrounds.  

The CWG is an inspiring event for all that to happen, and demonstrates the Value of Sport.

“I think that sport in general is a super valuable thing for life. This process of putting in a maximum effort to achieve a result and then succeeding or failing, or just learning what it is to put in that effort and achieve excellence, whether you’re in your work life, or your family life, and the future. This is something they lean on and I think that the Canada-Games-level athlete is now getting to that point where you’re reaping the rewards for that and feeling that effort and that reward that goes with it,” said Justin.


Follow Team Toba Badminton

Don’t miss the Team Toba journey! Follow the Manitoba Badminton Association on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, or visit their website.

To find out more about badminton at the CWG, visit the CWG website.