Since 2017, the BWF has provided scholarships to over 70 female athletes from more than 40 countries.
The BWF Female Participation Grant offers female para badminton athletes the chance to apply for financial support to participate and be Internationally Classified at a number of BWF sanctioned International para badminton tournaments. The grant further supports BWFs goal to increase female participation in Para badminton across all sport classes.
Nine female Para badminton players are reaping the benefits of the BWF Female Participation Grant, all of which participated in the Spanish Para Badminton International 2021, the final para qualifying event before Tokyo 2020 Paralympics in Cartagena, Spain last month:
Annika Schroeder (Germany)
Kamilla Malak (Poland)
Ilaria Renggli (Switzerland)
Viktoriia Arapina (Ukraine)
Joana Canudo (Portugal)
Inoi Ferreira (Portugal)
Lefort Maud (France)
Sophie Van Den Brock (Netherlands)
Eniolo Bolaji (Nigeria)
Among a string of recent successful candidates from the BWF female development grant were several debutants at the Spanish International 2021.
Nigeria’s Mariam Eniolo Bolaji in Standing Lower (SL3), competed as a beneficiary of the BWF Female Participation Grant at the Spanish International 2021 event and remarkedly claimed gold as she stunned experienced player, Oksana Kozyna (SL3) from the Ukraine 18-21 21-14 21-18 to clinch her first gold medal in the women’s singles event.
Astonishingly, Bolaji made history by being the first African to clinch a title at a major para badminton international championship outside of the continent.
“I’m so grateful to the BWF for this opportunity. I’m really happy,” said Bolaji.
“Since being given the grant I‘ve met some wonderful people and I hope to win many more tournaments. I have made Africans proud of me,” added Bolaji.
Sophie Van Den Brock from the Netherlands also competed at the Spanish International 2021 in the SL4 category in women’s singles and mixed doubles.
Having played competitively for three years in her native country, the Netherlands, the Para qualifying event was the first international outing for the Dutch woman and she expressed how much joy badminton had brought to her life.
“The grant has changed my life. It wasn’t the first sport I started playing but I love playing Para badminton. I play women’s singles and mixed doubles but I think my strength is in mixed. It’s so good to have this opportunity,” smiled Van Den Broek.
“It’s an honour to represent my country on an international level and it’s thanks to the female grant participation programme that I can do this,” she added.
21-year-old Inoi Ferreira from Portugal also competed in the Standing Lower (SL4) category and the first-timer was thrilled with her debut.
“The grant has been an incredible journey for me and started my love of competing in Para badminton. I didn’t enter the Spanish International 2021 with expectations, I just wanted to see what would happen and enjoy the experience,” said Ferreira.
Ferreira cited nerves at her first appearance saying: “I was very nervous and I was afraid of being down in the first game so it was difficult to start. I’m excited to play and represent Portugal. To be rest with the team is so great,” revealed Ferreira.
Wishing all athletes the best in their para badminton journey!