Northern Marianas Badminton Association members and national players pose with young players during a Shuttle Time event at the Oleai Sports Complex.

IT has been tough for the Northern Marianas Badminton Association to resume its events due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but thanks to IT&E, a badminton tournament will kick off this Saturday, July 24, at the TSL Sports Complex.

“With our members’ cooperation in following safety protocols, we’re able to return to play gradually and safely,” NMBA president Merlie Tolentino said.

NMBA resumed practices and scrimmages late last year just to keep the members busy so that they would not lose interest in the sport.

With the help of Badminton Oceania and the Badminton World Federation, NMBA also hosted Shuttle Time session to engage students who wanted to learn the basics of the sport.

Now several of these students are picking up the sport and joining regular practices/games.

“NMBA is very thankful that we also have our national team players,” Tolentino said. “They represented the CNMI in the 2019 Pacific Games in Apia, Samoa, and have been  with our program to recruit potential players and develop them through Shuttle Time and our Junior Players Development Program. We are also thankful to CNMI schools for trusting us and opening their doors to Shuttle Time,” Tolentino added.

As in the previous IT&E tournament  held in Feb. 2020, this year’s competition will feature a doubles contest in six divisions: women’s and men’s BB, women’s and men’s AB, and mixed AB and BB categories.

“We will still have a team format, just like our last tournament — the TanHoldings event last June,” Tolentino said.

“However, this time, we will have more events — from six to 10 (each team will have 10 games per assignment pairing) and we will be implementing the level system for players (Levels A, B, and C). We did not use the level system in the TanHoldings event because we haven’t had a tournament since we stopped badminton activities in March 2020,” Tolentino said.

 This year’s IT&E Badminton Team Tournament  will run for two weekends, she added.

“Right now,” she said, “we have over 70 players registered and they will be spread among five teams/clubs: Shirley’s Badminton Club, United Badminton Club, Taga Badminton Club, Golden Racquet, and Community Badminton Club.”

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