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Aparna Popat leads badminton group dance for charity

Dev Sukumar
EXPERT COLUMNIST
News
1.13K   //    04 Jul 2013, 11:46 IST

Nine-time national champion Aparna Popat has often expressed her enthusiasm to do philanthropic work in her post-badminton career. That enthusiasm was apparent during the weekend, when she led a group of badminton players in Bangalore’s edition of the world-wide Solibad Day flash mob.

Solibad’s flash mob in the Maldives.

Solibad is a charity organisation that uses badminton to raise funds for underprivileged children in several locations worldwide, such as Kuala Lumpur, Haiti, Brazil, Bali, Vietnam and Uganda. The ‘Solibad Day’ – celebrated in 45 countries this year – is an annual event that uses public performances such as flashmobs to raise awareness and funds.

Aparna led the group at Hennur-Banaswadi Cosmopolitan Club, dancing a choreographed number on the court. The former star’s association with SoliBad began a few months ago, when Raphael Sachetat, President of Solibad, got in touch with her over Facebook and enquired if she’d be willing to be part of the initiative. Aparna sought the help of two of her friends’ children – both were playing badminton at the Hennur-Banaswadi Cosmopolitan Club – and they helped arrange the event, which was put together over two days.

“This was one of the ways I thought I could help,” says Aparna, who dominated the national scene for a decade. “Raphael got in touch with me four or five months ago. I was in Bangalore last week, and I asked a group of my friends for help. Two of their kids play badminton at the club, and one of them dances well, and she was excited about it. We got it done in two days.”

The Aparna-led effort on June 29th was one of several all around the world in which badminton enthusiasts, clubs and federations participated. A note from the organisers said that one of the events was led by top Danish player Hans Kristian Vittinghus, who led a group of 80 people in Taastrup, Denmark. The group, aged between 7 and 62, had gathered for friendly matches, and money was collected for Solibad.

In London, more than €2500 was collected during the three-day ISBT (International Solibad Badminton Tournament). The note added that in Tokyo, national team players such as Shintaro Ikeda and Kenichi Hayakawa had invited their fans to a BBQ party where they cooked to collect money (¥50,000) in a Tokyo park.

Solibad Ambassador Scott Evans played an exhibition in his home of Ireland, while Phyllis Chan and Daniel Paiola spent time off the courts during the Ottawa International to collect money for Solibad. Top Singapore doubles player Yao Lei played with youngsters in a school to raise awareness for the foundation.

In Paris, one of France’s top 50 shuttlers left for a journey of 2500 km, visiting and being hosted by badminton clubs for over 30 days. In Benin, West Africa, more than 70 youngsters performed a Flashmob, while in Tahiti, badminton fans recorded themselves doing a ‘Solibad Harlem Shake’. In Moldova, a fashion show and open air tournament was held to celebrate Solibad by the Moldovian Federation.

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“All these amazing ideas show how Solibad has made an impact in only three years of existence and we keep receiving images – photos and videos – since last Saturday. It’s very emotional for us, and I am sure that it will be even more emotional for the children of our projects who will see all this soon and realize how many people all around the world are helping them” said Raphael Sachetat, founder of Solibad.

“This also shows that the badminton community is really keen on helping out when it matters. I’m not surprised, but overwhelmed by all these people, using their imagination and creativity to make this day special” he added.

Dev Sukumar
EXPERT COLUMNIST
Dev S Sukumar is the recipient of the Badminton World Federation (BWF) Media Award, 2011. He is India's most widely travelled badminton writer, having covered several international tournaments, including the Olympics, the Asian Games, the CWG Games, World Championships, the All England, the Denmark Open, the Malaysia Open, etc. He has covered badminton for over ten years now. During this period he has met fascinating characters, witnessed great matches, and has authored a biography of Indian badminton great Prakash Padukone. He has written on the game for several publications, including Sports Illustrated, Mint, Badminton Asia magazine, The New Indian Express, Hindustan Times, DNA and IANS. He tweets at twitter.com/shuttlemania
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