Voices of the Athletes takes centrestage

Badminton Oceania completed the Pacific Players Development Camp with the Oceania National Olympic Committee's (ONOC) Voices of the Athletes programme in Northcote today.
The Voices of the Athletes programme examines various themes in sport and includes Play True, which looks at anti-doping, Play Safe, which tackles HIV-AIDS awareness and Go Green, which focuses on environmental and health issues. 
Its Excellence for Life section provides key skills for athletes competing and preparing for life after sport. 
Badminton Oceania President Geraldine Brown opened the day with a message of welcome for former Kiwi Olympian Sarah Cowley and Ryley Webster who presented the programme to Badminton players from Guam, New Caledonia, Tahiti and Tonga.
Webster said it was a fruitful day for everyone involved. 
"The athletes were engaged and having a light-hearted approach helps as it gives pacific athletes the confidence to open up and be expressive.
"By the end we had a number of volunteers put their hand up to share the dreams and values so it was successful," Webster said.
Webster believes the value of the programme and what athletes take away from it and share with others has an important role to play.
"Athletes in the pacific are held in high regard across the region and I see that in my work in Papua New Guinea and across Oceania. 
"They are very respected in their communities and often they don't realise how much of an affect that can have in passing on really important messages on environmental and social issues," he said.
"Badminton has got a huge future in the pacific but may not yet be at the stage where it is competitive on the world stage but thats the challenge.
"If you look at some sports that require a lot of equipment and infrastructure I don't necessarily think Badminton is in that category so there are a lot of opportunities for it to grow.
"We had a good mix of athletes from a lot of countries here and I don't associate Tonga with a strong tradition of Badminton but we had great input from them today. 
"Badminton seems to be well represented and the challenge remains to bring the pacific players to the level where they are competing on the world stage," he said.
Webster added that Badminton Oceania were to be thanked for recognising an excellent opportunity for their blossoming talent to take advantage of. 
"Today was a unique opportunity to have people all together and I want to commend Badminton Oceania for seeing and taking this opportunity. Not only for the athletes to develop interpersonal relationships and to compete, but to develop as people and that is very important," he said.
For more information on Voices of the Athletes click here


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