South African trailblazers: TuksBadminton

ANTHONY JORDAAN

TuksBadminton is an indoor racket sport that affords opportunities to athletes looking to take up a new hobby, or looking to join one of South Africa’s most competitive university badminton clubs.

With regards to competitive participation, the club implements the use of an active high-performance program in partnership with Northern Gauteng Badminton, through which the club offers national level coaching to athletes. As a sport, there are five events that are played in Badminton, women’s and men’s singles, women’s and men’s doubles, and mixed doubles.

In 2017 TuksBadminton has participated in a host of competitions, including the Northern Gauteng Badminton League, the Northern Gauteng CAT1 Tournament, and the USSA Badminton Tournament hosted by UP in Pretoria. The University team had mixed results in the July USSA Tournament.

In the team event, UP had a disappointing tournament, finishing fourth overall, however individually the athletes from the club had an excellent tournament. Bongani Von Bodenstein, a second year BCom Accounting Sciences student, won three gold medals, the same achievement he obtained in his first year at the tournament in 2016, with a victory in the men’s singles, doubles and mixed doubles.

This was the highest achievement for any individual player participating in the competition, and was made all the more impressive as he suffered a knee injury earlier in the year. Anoop Nair, a final year Medical student, also won a gold medal alongside von Bodenstein in the men’s Doubles, as well as two silver medals in the men’s singles and mixed doubles.

Having played men’s doubles with Von Bodenstein, as well as in the other two finals, they were regarded by tournament organisers as well as those in attendance, as the strongest male players at the tournament. This achievement resulted in their selection to represent South Africa at the World Student Games in Taipei, Taiwan in August 2017.

In the Northern Gauteng League, which took place from March to May, the team was victorious in all three league fixtures they competed in, resulting in them winning the Northern Gauteng League for the second year in a row. However, despite the clubs’ recent successes, Badminton remains a sporting code that is not currently recognised as a major sport in the country. Nevertheless, the club does manage to attract an array of student players, as well as international players, due to their impressive website and extensive social media marketing.

The club is also active in community projects. Club Chairperson Andre van de Merwe said that one of the central aspects of the club, is that they strive to encourage social play amongst students, while also providing a platform for the development of the competencies of competitive players in the sport. Through use of the club’s High-Performance Programme, as well the enrolment of players and the team into many high-level tournaments throughout the year, the club believes that they are able to provide athletes with the best possible foundations for success

The remainder of the 2017 calendar includes the SA National Championships, which will take place in October 2017 in Benoni, as well as the SA International Tournament scheduled for December.

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