International Women’s Day: Female Participation Grant Breaks New Ground

March 8, 2022

Over 70 female athletes from more than 40 nations have received scholarships from BWF Development since 2017.

The BWF Female Participation Grant allows female Para Badminton competitors to request financial assistance in order to compete in BWF-sanctioned international Para Badminton competitions and be Internationally Classified for the first time. The grant helps BWF achieve its goal of increasing female participation in all sport classes of Para Badminton.

Member Associations and National Paralympic Committees can apply for the Grant scheme on behalf of their Para players. The 2022 application process closed on 18 February 2022. (link)

At the season opener in Vitoria, was the Spanish Para Badminton International II 2022, three debutants made their first international appearances for their nation.

  • Milena Surreau (SL4) from France
  • Cristina Sánchez de Lechina Tejada (SU5) from Spain and
  • Anya Butterworth (SH6) from England

With support from the BWF Female Participation Grant, the three Para players were classified by the BWF Classifier Team for the tournament and received help to fund their international travel and accommodation.

Milena Surreau (SL4) from France. Photo credit to Alan Spink & Craig Burgess

One such recipient of the grant, Surreau (SL4) revealed her delight about being a part of the programme.

“It’s been a really big help to me and given me the opportunity to play my first international tournament,” exclaimed Surreau.

“Just seeing the level I’m up against in my category has made me want to work harder. The step-up from National Championships to here has been a big one. I’ve also been able to meet and make friends with the French team who I wouldn’t normally see. It’s great to see so many strong female Para players. There’s a lot to learn my goal is to continue playing.”

Anya Butterworth (SH6) from England. Photo credit to Alan Spink & Craig Burgess

After discovering Para badminton through the Dwarf Sports Association in the United Kingdom, Butterworth (SH6), 14 said:

“I tried a few sports out but Para badminton was the one I liked most. The grant has helped fund my first international event and helped me realise the level of players I’m up against. Support isn’t just great for me, but with the BWF helping other girls and women get a good start in playing internationally it is really good. I think it’s a great thing.

“It’s such a friendly environment and being around all the other Para players is really nice. I’m missing school this week to be here but I have all my homework still to do. I have really enjoyed playing my first international event. I was really nervous at first but as I got into it, I loosened up.”

Cristina Sánchez de Lechina Tejada (SU5) from Spain. Photo credit to Alan Spink & Craig Burgess

Tejada (SU5) echoed Butterworth’s thoughts on BWF’s supportive grant stating “Being a part of the grant has been so helpful to me. Costs are expensive to come to tournaments and I’m very pleased to be a recipient of the Grant. I’m really honoured.”

A keen Carolina Marin and Tai Tzu Ying fan, Tejada hopes to continue playing Para badminton.

“It feels so good to be court playing internationally for my country, Spain. I would like to improve my skills and learn from the top players.”