Alcudia is this week going to be hosting the VI Spanish Para-Badminton International tournament. This year’s event is the largest it has ever been because para-badminton has been accepted as an Olympic sport and will make its debut in Tokyo.
This will be the third time the tournament has been held in Majorca and the second consecutive time in Alcudia. Event organiser Amparo Rayó Meca says that the tournament, which will be held at the municipal sports centre in Alcudia from 7-12 March, has the same amount of entrants as this year’s World Championships.
"The fact it is now a Paralympic sport has obviously increased the interest and the competition. For example, before it was accepted by the Olympic committee, there were just three tournaments a year, now there are nine: three in America, three in Asia and three in Europe, the World Championhips are in Korea in September.
"We held the tournament in Alcudia two years ago and this year nearly double the number of competitors are coming. We have 161 players representing 26 countries with teams coming from as far away as Malaysia, Hong Kong-China, Russia, Guatemala and Canada. They are also coming of course from all over Europe, in particular the United Kingdom.
"They will be playing in six categories, two seated and four standing. The semi-finals will be on 11 March, the finals on 12 March, and the tournament is open to the general public for free should they wish to come along, support the players, their country and enjoy the atmosphere. On 8 and 9 March they will be playing all day and on the final two days play will start at 10am.
"It’s a major tournament this year. It would be great if Alcudia could host it every year but that depends on the BWF - Badminton World Federation. At this year’s prize-giving ceremony we will have the BWF’s president of para-badminton, Paul Kurzo, and important representatives from the federation are coming to watch and experience the tournament here in Alcudia.
Jose Luis Garcia, who runs a charity called Routas del Silencio, is also coming. He dedicates his time to cycling round underdeveloped countries giving talks to students at schools for the deaf and dumb, explaining that they are no different to any other human beings and can still excel in this world. He mainly targets countries where the deaf and dumb are rejected by society.
"And we’ve also got the Paralympic swimmer Lorena Homar, who competed at the London Games, presenting prizes. What is great is that many of the teams, especially those coming from further afield, stay on and make a holiday of it. On average, most of the teams will be here in Alcudia for a week to ten days.
"We’ve got the support and backing of Alcudia town hall, the sport department and the Alcudia Hoteliers Association. All the players will staying at the Alcudia Garden and Viva Tropic hotels. Obviously we need hotels which can accommodate disabled athletes, so that complicates things a bit but these hotels are great.
"Suzanne Lyons, the sales and product manager for Viajes Adramar, has again taken care of the logistics here in Majorca; she’s sorted out the accommodation, transport, etc. We have Autocares Adrover providing the transport because they’ve got especially adapted large coaches and were also willing to help, plus Aspaym are also helping with transport and volunteers. We’ve got so many sponsors, which is great, so I hope to impress the federation enough to make Alcudia an annual tournament.
"I just hope the general public come along and enjoy the tournament and give us all the support they can."