The BWF Female Participation Grant offers female athletes a chance to apply for financial support to attend and be internationally classified at some BWF-sanctioned tournaments annually. The grant supports BWFs global goal to increase female participation in Para badminton across all classes.
Since 2017, BWF has provided scholarships to over 70 female athletes from more than 40 countries and it continues to call for applications on annual basis between October and December. Member organisations are then asked to complete a simple application form for each athlete.
At the Asian Youth Para Games 2021 held from 2-6 December in Manama, Bahrain, BWF granted five female players to be classified and to participate for the first time at an international tournament.
- Sanjana Kumari (India)
- Nithya Sre Sumathy Sivan (India)
- Sapuna Subba (Bhutan)
- Shabnam Mekamboeva (Tajikistan)
- Shormi Mozumder (Bangladesh)
Uganda PB International 2021
Lucienne Akpoton Kikisagbe (Benin): Silver in WH1 Women Singles & WH1-WH2 Women Doubles
- Stellah Jongwe (Zimbabwe): Bronze in WH1 Women Singles & WH1-WH2 Mixed Doubles
- Harriet Birabwa (Uganda): Bronze in SL4 Women Singles
- Adizatu Abubakari (Ghana): Silver in WH1-WH2 Women Doubles & Bronze in WH2 Women Singles
- Juliana Ampofo (Ghana): Bronze in WH1-WH2 Women Doubles
- Asana Awudu (Ghana): Bronze in WH1-WH2 Women Doubles
- Akosua Ampofowaa (Ghana): Bronze in WH1-WH2 Mixed Doubles
Asian Youth Para Games 2021
- Sanjana Kumari (India): Gold in SL3 Women Singles and SL3-SU5 Doubles & Silver in Mixed Doubles
- Nithya Sre Sumathy Sivan (India): Gold in SH6 Women Singles & Silver in Mixed Doubles
- Sapuna Subba (Bhutan): Bronze in SH6 Women Singles & Mixed Doubles
- Shabnam Mekamboeva (Tajikistan): Bronze in SL3 Women Singles and SL3-SU5 Doubles
- Shormi Mozumder (Bangladesh): Fourth in SH6 Mixed Doubles
Yemurai Ngoma from Zimbabwe uses Para badminton as an advocacy tool. Diagnosed with Guillain-Barré syndrome, a rare condition that attacks the nerves at a tender age, the grant recipient is using this opportunity to raise awareness among fellow female Para badminton athletes on their sexual reproductive health rights as well as gender violence.
“I was made aware of the BWF Para badminton Female Participation Grant by my coaches, who urged me to apply through my Member Association,” Ngoma narrated her journey.
“I transitioned from wheelchair basketball and Para volleyball to Para badminton after being approached by my coaches through a friend. I was curious to find out what Para badminton was all about, and after training with other players and exploring the numerous opportunities of growth availed by BWF, I fell in love with the sport.
“Having the opportunity to be an athlete and being able to represent my country and the disabled community means a lot because I’m not only a girl but also a person with a disability. It’s a chance to empower my fellow female athletes through sports, and I thank BWF and BCA.”
A social worker by profession, Ngoma also works as a disability inclusion officer for an organisation that helps women with disabilities in hard-to-reach places.
“I’m working towards creating a platform, a safe space for female athletes to accept themselves as individuals living with disabilities. A space where they will be able to discuss freely things like sexual reproductive health, sexuality as well as gender violence, the challenges, the experiences and how to mitigate them. Talking about sexuality in the disabled community in Africa is considered taboo but we are human beings, we have feelings, right to a partner, right to a relationship yet we don’t have the platform to discuss these things openly free of judgment and just share our experiences.”
This is what other grant recipients said:
“I’ve participated at my first international tournament for Bangladesh. I secured fourth place at Asian Youth Para Games 2021 in Bahrain. With better support and guidance, I can achieve gold for Bangladesh.” – Shormi Mozumder, Bangladesh
“At first, I was quite nervous but as I took a step forward I couldn’t believe I actually have this ability. I’m proud and really confident that I got my self-esteem high. I would like to thank my coach Mr.Dorji for working tirelessly for the improvement of my skills and game play. Thanks to Bhutan Paralympic Committee, Bhutan Badminton Federation, Bhutan Olympic Committee, Badminton Asia, BWF for the Female Participation Grant, and my teachers and friends at Gesarling Higher Secondary School.” – Sapuna Subba, Bhutan
“I was very happy represent Tajikistan in such a prestigious competition and win bronze medals. Until today, I have only participated in national competitions and have not been abroad. This event gave me new feelings. I saw how other children like me were not shy and enjoyed playing, felt free, and it was good. Many children with physical disabilities are ashamed and stay at home. I am very grateful to BWF and Badminton Federation Tajikistan for this support and opportunity.” – Shabnam Mekamboeva, Tajikistan
“I feel lucky and unique to be considered for this grant. It’s my first time in Uganda, and I want to maximise this opportunity by winning some medals.” – Stellah Jongwe, Zimbabwe
“I thank BWF for giving us this chance to participate in this tournament. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, things have been tough on disabled players. Apart from the challenges we face in life, we have not been able to practice or attend tournaments. The BWF Female Participation Grant has been a blessing, and we thank the Almighty for this opportunity.” – Adijazatu Abubakari, Ghana
All photos credit to James Varghese