Saudi Para shuttlers make debut with 'improvement' in their sights

UAE's Siham Al Rasheedy also made her debut on Monday

By Team KT

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Saudi players during their match. — Supplied photo
Saudi players during their match. — Supplied photo

Published: Tue 12 Dec 2023, 12:13 AM

Saudi Arabia’s Majed Alsahafi was amazed to see the atmosphere, competition level and the motivation of the players to excel as the 5th Fazza Dubai Para Badminton International 2023 at the Al Nasr Club on Monday.

It was Alsahafi and the team’s international debut in Para Badminton. Though the opening day’s campaign for Saudi Arabia wasn’t great, they look ahead to gain valuable experience and lessons going back home.

“Getting a chance to perform at this platform is already a motivation and to watch and interact with the Paralympic and world champions here was the icing on the cake. We are so excited and motivated to see everything here, we hope to take back many learning experiences,” said Alsahafi as he shares his next dream of doing well in the West Asian Para Games scheduled for January 27 to February 3, 2024, in Sharjah, UAE.

Alsahafi lost his singles (MS SL3) and doubles (MD SL3-SL4) matches while his fellow shuttler Mahdi Almakinah won his group match against his compatriot Essam Buayti in men’s singles WH2 event.

With just five months of training, the team of four believe that they can build up a good team with more experience and training.

“We are not here (Fazza Championships) to win or lose but to know the level of our game, level of the competition, learn and grow. It’s important for our players to watch the top players, interact with them, and learn new skills from them. This event is important for all of us to build an improved team for the coming years,” said head coach Ikram Abidi on the team.

“There’s a lot of interest in Saudi Arabia for Para Badminton - we have seven players now, four of them in Dubai and three of them getting ready back home. As the competition is very high in Para Badminton, there’s a training system being set up with three more coaches to guide the players. Our target here is to prepare for the West Asian Para Games,” added the coach from Algeria.

Like Alsahafi and his compatriots, hosts UAE’s Siham Al Rasheedy also made her debut and was happy to take the learning experiences.

“It was a good match. Thankfully I was drawn to play against Alphia (James) with whom I train at the Dubai Club, I learnt a few techniques and the coordination with the wheelchair,” said Al Rasheedy who lost 11-21, 10-21 to India’s Alphia James.

Elsewhere, top players including Paralympic champions Leani Ratri Oktila from Indonesia, China’s Liu Yutong, Daiki Kajiwara from Japan, and India’s Pramod Bhagat among others, started their campaign in Dubai on winning note as they aim to gain the important qualification points to Paris 2024 Paralympics.

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