Special Olympics Nigeria Coaches Put Unified Sports Training into Action via AirBadminton

August 17, 2021

Special Olympics Nigeria did not let a global pandemic stop it continuing to train its coaches and provide meaningful opportunities for its athletes.

Thanks to support from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, Special Olympics Nigeria successfully delivered a 21-week Unified Sports programme, which ended in April. Athletes and Unified partners participated in self-development programmes and sports training – football and Badminton World Federation’s newly developed outdoor game AirBadminton – twice a week in various communities and centres. While it was faced with a few challenges due to the pandemic, including the closure of certain sports facilities, it was able to use an open field and kick off the programme on 11 November 2020 with Unified Sports coaches training 51 coaches, certifying 41 new coaches and recertifying 10 others.

Special Olympics Nigeria facilitating the AirBadminton Unified Sports coaches training

Samuel Adekunle participated in the programme as an AirBadminton coach. He learned more about coaching Unified Sports and managing relationships with athletes and Unified partners. He also felt he was able to create good relationships with other coaches for support and personal improvement.

“I felt fulfilled because I was able to impart the skills I learnt. I strongly believe the participants’ badminton skills and fitness levels improved during this project, and athletes continue to look forward to the weekly trainings,” he said.

Samuel also said the participants learned how to communicate and socialise with others, had lots of fun and made good friends, demonstrating the true impact of Unified Sports.

Coach Samuel Adekunle explaining badminton skills to an athlete.

Aderibigbe Oluwafemi is an athlete and coach with Special Olympics Nigeria. He took the opportunity to improve his coaching skills as well as participate as an athlete.

“The Unified Sports coach training session exposed me to the uniqueness of Unified Sports principles of playing together, no discrimination, friendships both on and off the field,” he said.

“Training other athletes and Unified partners gave me the self-confidence I needed. I was initially afraid but was able to build my confidence. Most of the participants thought I couldn’t handle the training but once it commenced, the participants’ confidence in me increased through the way I broke down the skills. I learnt many things while participating, such as being brave, self-confident, friendly, tolerant and patient.”

Special Olympics athlete and coach, Aderibigbe Oluwafemi, preparing for a badminton serve.

Special Olympics Nigeria’s Unified Sports programme touched 192 athletes, 186 Unified partners and 51 coaches over 21 weeks. Beneficiaries improved their physical fitness, sports skills and participated in self-development programmes, including a Unified Youth discussion to equip them with life skills and prepare them for the future.

AirBadminton is the Badminton World Federation’s newly developed Outdoor Badminton game.