Loke Poh Wong, Tournament Director of the TOTAL BWF Sudirman Cup 2017 due to be held next year in Gold Coast, writes about the significance of staging the tournament for the first time in Australia:
Staging the TOTAL BWF Sudirman Cup 2017 in the Oceania Confederation for the first time provides a window of opportunity for the BWF to accelerate badminton’s growth and development in Australia and Oceania and leave a tangible post-event national and regional legacy.
We will be able to increase engagement with Oceania member associations and encourage some to participate in the Sudirman Cup for the first time.
The event will enhance development pathways for players, coaches, technical officials, administrators and event organisers whilst showcasing badminton at its highest level to the wider sport community, including potential corporate sponsors and government partners.
Badminton Australia (BA) will use the Sudirman Cup to drive increased active participation in badminton in Australia and Oceania, and enhance event management capability within BA and Badminton Oceania to stage further BWF major events in the region.
The TOTAL BWF Sudirman Cup 2017 will provide an opportunity for Badminton Australia’s main funding bodies (the Australian Sports Commission and the Australian Olympic Committee) to better understand the sport and its high performance development needs.
It will also enable junior athletes to witness elite international competition at home, motivating participation and performance at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games and the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
The Gold Coast is a major sports and event destination in Australia, highlighted by the host city status of the Commonwealth Games in April 2018. It is Australia’s most vibrant city and a popular holiday and lifestyle destination with domestic and international visitors alike.
Apart from the fact that the event will be played in a brand new state-of-the-art facility, Gold Coast’s diverse attractions include surfing beaches, waterways, rainforests, hinterland and national parks to world-class theme parks, shopping precincts, cafes and restaurants, hotels, resorts, sport and convention venues.
Impact on badminton
Despite the fact that Australia in one of the top sporting nations in the world, badminton as a sport is still relatively new to the country. An event like the TOTAL BWF Sudirman Cup 2017 will expose the nation to the best of what badminton is about: the speed, excitement and especially the players, to the general sporting community of Australia.
From the perspective of all the countries in Oceania, we are only at an infant stage of badminton growth. The growth potential, in terms of numbers playing and the standard of badminton being played, can only improve from here. We hope the legacy of staging the TOTAL BWF Sudirman Cup 2017 will accelerate this growth.
As with most major events being run in a new facility, a highly regulated event like the TOTAL BWF Sudirman Cup 2017 with a potential TV audience of over 500 million and a full capacity of over 5000 does put some pressure on the entire set-up of an untested venue.
The other challenge – with Australia being an island continent – is distance. We hope many countries will support and compete in the event.