(NMBA) — For the time in the history of interscholastic competition in the CNMI, badminton will be included in the Public School System Student Support Services Athletic Program.

Badminton competition will have its debut in the 2021-2022 school year and will be played by middle school and high school students both from private and public schools. Northern Marianas Badminton Association will run the interscholastic competition for PSS starting in October this year.

Education Commissioner Dr. Alfred B. Ada, PSS athletic program director Nick Gross, PSS senior director Yvonne Pangelinan, and NMBA president Merlie Tolentino signed a memorandum of agreement on Thursday in a brief ceremony during a Northern Marianas Sports Association meeting in the conference room of the Gilbert C. Ada Gymnasium to officially mark the partnership of PSS and NMBA in the promotion and development of the sport in the interscholastic

“We would like to welcome the Northern Marianas Badminton Association to the PSS Student Support Services Athletic Program and thank them for their commitment and efforts to deliver a great sports program for our students. It’s going to be a very busy school year with the inclusion of badminton in our calendar and I am sure our students are very excited to play and learn another sport,” Ada said.

Holding a regular badminton competition among students has been one of the long-term goals of the NMBA and reaching this milestone couldn’t have come at a better time, as the association just completed a series of outreach programs to schools through Shuttle Time and is now preparing for the hosting of the badminton event in Pacific Mini Games 2022. Shuttle Time is a Badminton World Federation program that offers school access to free resources, training, and equipment to support the teaching of enjoyable and safe badminton activities to children in the 5 to 15 age groups. NMBA has been implementing the program since 2019 and after having limited Shuttle Time events in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the association are in full swing this year, bringing badminton closer to more than 10 schools by holding multiple sessions in campuses and gymnasiums.

“This (inclusion to interscholastic program) is major step toward our goal of building strong grassroots and youth programs for CNMI badminton. We’ve been working on this for years and thanks to the PSS leadership, Education Commissioner Alfred Ada, and PSS athletic director Nick Gross for making this happen. Badminton, like any other sport, is committed to provide our children access to activities that promote athletic skills development and positive values on and off the court and encourage them to live a healthy and active lifestyle through sports,” Tolentino said.

To move ahead with the NMBA/PSS badminton interscholastic competition, Gross said they will be providing 168 rackets, 360 shuttlecocks and 24 portable net sets for the program. Gross added that five NMBA members have also joined the PSS Community Coach Program to support the inaugural badminton event in the interscholastic level. The coaches will be assigned to participating schools to conduct practice sessions and guide students during the competition.

Tolentino said holding the first badminton interscholastic event will give NMBA game officials and volunteers the opportunity to have “dry-run events” for the Mini Games that the CNMI will be hosting from June 17 to 25 next year. The association’s umpires and line judges have been attending workshops in preparations for the Mini Games hosting, but would need actual game experiences to practice and improve their officiating skills.

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