More than a hundred cities and towns – across countries such as Australia, China (Hong Kong), France, Guam, the Philippines and Qatar (at right, below) – hosted mass gatherings last Saturday to support and raise awareness of the charity Solibad – Badminton without Borders, which funds projects for under-privileged children. Young ones at an orphanage in Indonesia (at left) also played their part in this venture.
Hamilton, New Zealand kicked off the flash mobs with a haka, followed by a specially choreographed routine performed with shuttlecocks and rackets. Kuala Lumpur, New Delhi (in Bollywood style), Singapore, Tokyo, Kazakhstan and Copenhagen followed suit along with tiny Pacific islands and villages in Africa.
Veteran shuttler, Gade, was part of a group of Danish national team players to participate in Copenhagen’s flash mob while France’s Pi Hongyan dazzled the crowd outside the Louvre Museum in Paris. In Malaysia, former world finalist Wong Choong Hann and former stars, Lee Wan Wah and Chan Chong Ming, celebrated ‘KL Badminton style’.
“This is my first time joining a flash mob. It was a great experience seeing people from all walks of life coming together with a shared goal and giving it their all to make it a success,” said Choong Hann.
In London, a ‘Challenge the Stars’ fundraiser after the flash mob gave badminton fans a chance to play against Robertson; former world champion and Mixed Doubles silver medallist at Athens 2004.
At the same time, during the Czech Republic International Badminton tournament – one of the highest graded tournaments in Europe − Solibad ambassador Petr Koukal took advantage of the break between quarter-finals and semifinals to gather players and officials for a flash mob; unprecedented in badminton tournaments. Elsewhere, other Solibad ambassadors – some of the best players in their countries - held flash mobs in iconic places in their home towns or at badminton halls. In Manilia, Philippines, Solibad flash mobs were shown on national television.
Last year’s inaugural Solibad Day saw celebrations in 65 cities in 43 countries.
“Our target was to reach 100 cities this year and we are still getting videos from new places so we’ll definitely exceed that,” said Solibad’s founder and French photo-journalist Raphael Sachetat (in black at front of Paris flash mob; below).
“People are saying how much fun they had performing the flash mobs. It shows that the badminton community, from leisure players to top stars, can work together to make our projects come true. I can only imagine the smiles on the faces of the children around the world that we help.”
This year, funds raised will go to Gravata, Brazil where Solibad supports a local badminton academy helping children return to school and escape violence at home. Solibad’s other projects include orphanages in Bali, Indonesia, and Kuala Lumpur and most recently a pilot scheme in France that aims to bridge the gap between physically-challenged persons and able-bodied persons through playing badminton.