SAN JOSE, Tinian—The Northern Marianas Badminton Association provided Tinian the much welcome outdoor activity at this time of the COVID-19 pandemic by holding Shuttle Time over the weekend.
NMBA members and CNMI National Team players Janelle and Jordan Pangilinan, Nicole Malasarte, Daniel and Ezekiel Macario, and Nate Guerrero taught over 30 Tinian residents badminton drills and basic skills last Friday and Saturday at the Tinian Youth Center.
The event is part of NMBA’s development and outreach programs and the group utilized Shuttle Time— a Badminton World Federation-led initiative that aims at bringing the sport closer to students by offering schools access to free resources, training, and equipment to support the teaching of enjoyable and safe badminton activities to children.
Tinian Elementary School student Galyo Untalan was among the participants in last weekend’s Shuttle Time and was excited to see a group of athletes coming to the island to introduce them to a new sport.
“I love playing soccer and I also know how to play baseball, but I still want to learn other sports, so I am glad that you’re able to come here and teach us how to play badminton,” Untalan said. “We did not have much to do nowadays because of the pandemic, so I am happy I get to play. “This is fun, especially the part when I get to hit the shuttlecock.”
Tinian Junior Senior High School students and Northern Marianas College’s Joseph King also joined the two-day clinic.
“I am just home for the weekend and will return to Saipan. I heard about Shuttle Time going to Tinian, so the timing is perfect. I am interested in the sport and will definitely check NMBA out when I return to Saipan,” King said.
Tinian students were accompanied by their parents at the clinic and some tried working on the racket and hitting the shuttlecock. NMBA used the equipment for AirBadminton since it held the clinic outdoor.
“I wish you guys could go here every weekend to hold events like this for the kids. Since we had the pandemic, they’ve been rarely doing outdoor activities. After online school, they would turn into their gadgets and it’s not good to them, physically and mentally,” said Venus Manglona, whose daughters and son attended Shuttle Time.
“It’s great to see our children having fun and doing physical activities, especially at this time of the pandemic. Us, parents, would also love to try and learn the sport,” she added.
Meanwhile, Malasarte had flashbacks when she saw young children at the clinic.
“I see myself in them. I was 7 years old when I started to learn badminton,” said Malasarte, who represented the CNMI to the 2019 Pacific Games in Apia, Samoa.
Ezekiel Macario, who also played for the Commonwealth in the Pacific Games, said that they are happy to do Shuttle Time on Tinian to spread the word about badminton, especially now that the CNMI is preparing for the 2022 Pacific Mini Games.
Shuttle Time’s stop on Tinian was NMBA’s first this year and seventh overall since the group has implemented the program a couple of years ago. The association could have done more sessions last year if not for the pandemic.
NMBA president Merlie Tolentino said they are looking at bringing Shuttle Time to as many schools as possible and to the community, including on Rota.
“The NMBA would like to extend its reach to all three islands and provide opportunities to more residents, especially our youth. The more people we engage in, the better chances we could develop a pool of athletes that we could tap to represent the islands in future competitions,” Tolentino said. (PR)