After successfully hosting the All Africa Senior Badminton Championship for the first time in 19 years where Nigeria emerged the overall winners at the event which held between April 22-28 at the Alfred Diete Spiff Civic Centre in Port Harcourt, President of the Badminton Federation of Nigeria (BFN) Barrister Francis Orbih has declared that Nigeria will aim to replicate that feat in the Badminton event of the African Games (formerly, All Africa Games) later this year in Morocco as he also revealed the federation’s plans for the coming months.
Badminton, once moribund in the country, has enjoyed an increased profile since the inauguration of the Orbih-led board a little over two years ago with a resurgence in domestic competitions and Nigerian players competing regularly at international events.
The increased activity witnessed in badminton is in keeping with the vision of the current board of the BFN which according to Orbih aims to ensure constant engagement for the players.
“What we promised when we came on board was to give the players a busy calendar,” Orbih told busybuddiesng.com. “If as a player you train from the beginning of the year to the end without playing competitions it’s as good as wasting your time, and that is what we strive to do. We try to keep to that promise and the success that we witnessed this last one week [at the All Africa Senior Badminton Championship] was not an overnight success; it’s something that we’ve been preparing for, so we are going to continue and do even more than we’ve done before.”
With the All Africa Senior Badminton Championship done and dusted, Orbih revealed that the players will soon report back to camp to prepare for a slew of competitions known as the West African Circuit which commences with the Benin International in Benin Republic in June and culminates at the Lagos International Badminton Classics in Nigeria in July with the Cote d’Ivoire International and the J.E Wilson International series in Ghana both in July sandwiched between both events. Preparations for the African Games will then commence soon after.
“We have four internationals in the West African region, which we call the West African Circuit: Benin Republic, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana and then we end up in Lagos International in July. We are going to put the players in camp again because that is what we did [with the All Africa Senior Badminton Championship], you don’t change a winning formula, we did it and we won this so we are going to put them in camp again to prepare them for the West African circuit, after the West African circuit they will be in camp also for the All Africa Games.”
With Nigeria having dethroned Mauritius as African champions and Anuoluwapo Juwon Opeyori and Dorcas Adesokan both emerging African champions in the men and women’s singles at the recently concluded All Africa Senior Badminton Championship, Orbih says the African Games will be a perfect opportunity for the country to reassert its dominance in Badminton even as he recognized that Nigeria’s newfound status means all other countries will focus on toppling them.
“The All Africa Games is the gathering of all athletes from different sports and that’s a place also with another prestigious championship where every country will want to go and own the bragging rights. So yes, we are African champions now, we want to go there and let people know that it is not a fluke that happened here, we want to go there and win it again because the same event that we played here is also what we are going to play in Morocco.
“So basically, we need to prepare very well because everybody now is going to be targeting Nigeria. Nigeria has become the new bride and the new target so we need to actually work harder to be able to maintain and sustain this position that we’ve just gotten.”