Badminton kind of a big deal in Costa Rica

June 22, 2012

From the print edition

On a rainy Wednesday night, a gymnasium in Moravia, northeast of San José, echoes with the sounds of grunts, squeaking shoes and the swish of shuttlecocks rocketing through the air. Members of Costa Rica’s Badminton Academy are sweat-drenched from their training for the next tournament, this weekend.

Badminton in Costa Rica may sound unusual, but thanks to a handful of coaches, the sport is spreading. “We’ve been able to build a love of the game and some respectable competition,” said Sharon Springer, coach and founder of the Costa Rica Badminton Academy and erstwhile director of education for the Latin American University of Science and Technology (ULACIT). “There are students of ours playing in national and international competitions,” she said.

Other founders include Adrián Gómez and Frans Scholl. Scholl is the athletic director at the Lincoln School, and all three founders train other physical education teachers to teach badminton in schools nationwide. Badminton is one of the few sports where age and sex don’t impact the game, Scholl said.

“It’s all about the skill level,” he said, pointing to an older man playing alongside younger students in a beginners’ class.
 Gianpiero Cavallotti, 14, has been playing for three years. He said his uncle taught him the game, and he’s been hooked ever since.

“It can get very competitive,” he said, wiping sweat from his brow. “It’s no easier than any other sport, despite what some people think. It all takes lots of hard practice.”

There are more than 30 children, teenagers and adults who participate in the academy, and national competitions include badminton groups from Turrialba, Guanacaste, Siquirres, Guapiles and Atenas. The next competition, a doubles tournament, takes place June 23-24 in the Colegio Las Americas.

At least 65 pairs are expected to compete, and the public is invited. On June 30, the academy will welcome Fernando Dharshana, an international badminton trainer from Canada, who will be working with people of all ages and skill levels.

Mondays and Wednesdays, the academy practices 6:30-8:30 p.m.  On Saturday, the younger, less experienced groups practice 1-3 p.m. and competitive adults play 3-5 p.m. Those interested in joining the academy can contact Sharon Springer at 8990-9295 or sharon@badmintoncr.com  or visit its website at: badmintoncr.com

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