The Charter has enabled us to create more opportunities for people with disabilities to get involved in our sport, and we hope to continue this progression to assist people with disabilities to get involved in badminton, whether that be playing, coaching, or volunteering.
About Badminton Ireland
Badminton Ireland is the National Governing Body for the sport of Badminton in Ireland, serving 13,000 members across four hundred affiliated bodies.
The Charter first came to our attention at the 2018 Cara National Seminar for Inclusion when it was launched, and we signed-up to it as an organisation in January 2019. Signing-up to the Charter made us reflect and evaluate our inclusive practices as an organisation under the five key headings of the document: Openness, People, Activities, Facilities, and Promotion.Collectively these five headings now guide our core practices, firstly by forming the basis of the organisations first Disability Inclusion Policy, and secondly by feeding into our disability inclusion strategy as we continue to progress forward.
Ultimately, what was most important for us when we signed-up up to the Charter was that we would honour our commitment to registering by implementing actions that would ensure we were more inclusive. Hence, we came up with the 50-step initiative, which was to start off our journey by taking 50 steps as an organisation (no matter how big/small) to become more inclusive. This initiative was undertaken so that all badminton affiliated bodies who were joining us on this journey would be encouraged that we were trying to lead by example, but more importantly knew that they would be supported on their journey if they signed-up to the Charter.
‘Be open to and understanding of all people with disabilities’
We displayed our Openness as an organisation initially by signing up to the Charter, but also through actioning our commitment to the Charter. Moreover, we have had a terrific response from Badminton Ireland affiliated bodies in this area with over 30 of them having signed the Charter.
One aspect which we have looked to develop under Openness is our first organisational Disability Inclusion Policy. This document is based off the five pillars of the Charter and will guide our inclusive practices as an organisation moving forward. Badminton organisations nationwide will also be able to implement the key elements of this document to ensure they are best placed to be open and understanding of all people with disabilities.
Another development under the Openness heading of the Charter was our successful Dormant Account Funding application for our ‘Leaders of the Future’ schools and inclusion programme. The ‘Leader of the Future’ programme involves removing the key barriers to participating in the sport for schools, special schools, service groups, and disability specific clubs/groups and is delivered alongside Local Sports Partnerships. Each participating groupin the programme is provided with training & education, equipment, resources, school/group-club links, and playing opportunities in a participation event that focuses on the personal, playing, and social development of all participants.
‘Access training for our staff/volunteers to facilitate the inclusion of people with disabilities’
Badminton Ireland have placed a significant emphasis on developing the people involved in our sport and this has been worked on through a variety of methods. Firstly, we wanted to provide in-house training to develop our own staffs understanding in the area of disability inclusion, so alongside the National Indoor Arena we arranged a Cara Disability Inclusion Training course. In addition to this, and as a means of supporting our Provincial Branches who had all signed-up to the Charter, we offered each branch the opportunity the option to nominate volunteers to attend the course with cost subsidised by Badminton Ireland. This support has extended to County/League Associations and Clubs since, with local level course participation being subsidised should groups wish to upskill their volunteer base.
Furthermore, Badminton Ireland have taken a number of other steps to develop under the people heading, including;
• The promotion of upcoming Cara training courses to local level volunteers.
‘Develop and deliver inclusive activities’
Activities is an area we have tried to develop in by collaborating as much as possible with the SIDO/LSP network and various other interested partners. Overall, we teamed up with SIDO’s from twelve regions to assist with their SportsAbility events, or to collaborate and deliver taster sessions and programmes. As a result of all partnerships we reached up to 520 new participants over the course of a year and we hope to maintain our progression on this front in the coming weeks and months by increasing the number of sustainable playing opportunities which we offer as a sport to go with some of the excellent inclusion work going on already on the ground by a host of badminton clubs and volunteers.
The aforementioned ‘Leaders of the Future’ programme has also been greatly successful, and we envisage that this will prove to become a sustainable entry point for children with disabilities into the sport of badminton. We already have fifteen disability specific groups who have participated in the programme, with Cavan LSP, Cork LSP, Kildare LSP, and Sligo LSP all collaborating with us on this to deliver in their region.
Our vision in terms of activities is twofold in that firstly we want to provide pathways to participation in the sport for people with disabilities, and then once involved in the sport we hope to assist people to play at the level suitable to their competitive/social needs, and playing ability. We have some exciting plans for the short, medium, and long-term future development of our activities in the area of inclusion which hopefully will attract more people to the sport.
‘Review our facility/venues/equipment to make our organisation more accessible’
Facilities is an area, which in truth, we are yet to specifically target since signing-up to the Charter. We have included an audit document in our Disability Inclusion Policy and this will be circulated to our affiliated bodies in due course. Additionally, all our organisations will also receive equipment guidelines/checklists to develop an understanding for what equipment is necessary to deliver the highest quality inclusion sessions.
‘Promote the inclusive nature of our activities, in a variety of formats’
Promotion has been a massively important area to us we signed-up to the Charter. We have targeted the promotion of the Charter itself to our affiliated bodies and have had a fantastic response with all four Provincial Branches, a number of County/League Associations, and clubs from all over Ireland having signed-up to it. To follow on from the sign-ups with our affiliated bodies we have circulated resources, Cara factsheets, and disability badminton specific manuals, while also promoting Cara training & education workshops on an ongoing basis to them.
Furthermore, it has been an important period in terms of promotion for us as an organisation with the Tokyo Paralympic Games qualification events taking place in recent months. Irish athlete Niall McVeigh is continuing to battle for a place in the Tokyo Games, while several other Irish athletes have also competed on the international Para circuit this year.
Moreover, we were also delighted to be able to promote the fortunes of the Irish Special Olympics World Badminton Games team of Sarah Louise Rea, John Doyle, and Mary Doyle who all medalled in Abu Dhabi last year under the coaching guidance of Kim McCrave and Claire Heffernan. The athletes were presented with an award for their achievements at the annual Badminton Ireland awards night before Christmas which was an important recognition of their successes on the international stage.
All these methods of promotion in the area of inclusion are extremely important in terms of raising the profile of disability badminton. No doubt it is an area we will continue to look to develop, and at present are reviewing all our inclusion promotional material that we will look to communicate and distribute in future. This applies to our participation programmes, high performance athletes, continuous development as an organisation, training and education of volunteers, and upcoming events.