You could say Amanda Haywood has a thing for racket sports; she is a national badminton and squash player.
Amanda, who began playing when she was seven years old, said she put equal effort into both sports and that her passion has reaped her many titles. “I am currently the under-17 and under-19 Girls Singles and Mixed-doubles National Champion, I came second in the Senior Nationals, and the International under- 19 in Aruba, the Regional under-17, the Caribbean under-17 and CARIBACO International under-19 tournament,” she said.
She noted that locally, the sport had a low interest but she believed it would attract more spectators if they had a badminton base where they could have better practice sessions and stage more competitions.
She added that it was important to expose young people to all types of sports, and to have them implemented in the public school’s extra curriculum. “Badminton enforces discipline, which can also be channeled into your school work,” she said, “Badminton is in schools, but mostly private. There’s also a badminton inter-school competition amongst some secondary schools.”
She said while she had hopes of becoming an Olympian, she did not think Barbados could have a Badminton team for the Tokyo Games. “I don’t think we would be ready to compete at that level; we don’t have as much exposure to the coaches and facilities as the other athletes,” she lamented, “I went to the Pan-American Games and World Juniors last year, and seeing the level those players were at was mind-blowing.”
Amanda, a former dancer, said she had to give up many of the things she enjoyed in her downtime, since training and competing dominated her time, but that she was grateful for the skills she acquired. “Playing badminton at this level has made me more disciplined, focused and also very busy. I’ve had to sacrifice going out with my friends as much because I either have training or a competition,” she said.
She added that she was focusing on upcoming championships and she hoped to be a scholarship winner.
“I want to place at the Panam Games in Canada, and also win the Senior Nationals in the Women’s Singles in 2017,” she pointed out, “I am aiming for a sports scholarship overseas so that I can pursue a degree in Finance.”
Amanda said the Barbados Olympic Association’s 50th Anniversary Games was a good way for badminton to receive exposure, so that Bajans may become more familiar with it. “I think it’s a very good initiative and a good way for people to recognise all the sports that we have. I think the Games should be held on a yearly basis,” she noted, “People should come out and watch Badminton because it’s a very intriguing sport.”