Badminton in Papua New Guinea
Meet Dorna Longbut, a 23-year-old multi-sport Para-athlete who has represented Papua New Guinea (PNG) in several sports, and who embarked on her badminton journey through her enthusiastic participation in the Team-Up supported Inclusive Gymbad program.
Her story serves as a powerful testament to the life-changing influence of Inclusive GymBad, which is delivered in partnership between Badminton Oceania, Badminton Papua New Guinea, the Papua New Guinea Gymnastics Federation, Oceania Gymnastics Union and Interplast Australia and New Zealand. By modifying the fundamental skills of badminton and gymnastics, Inclusive GymBad removes or reduces the barriers experienced by people with a disability, particularly women and girls, so they can participate equally.
Dorna joined Inclusive GymBad in 2022 and credits the program with giving her the self-assurance to participate in sport as someone with a disability. Her participation in the program drove her forward, fueled by her unwavering determination, fostering the confidence to excel as a national multi-sport Para-athlete.
She has since won gold and bronze in track and field Para-athletics events that same year at the Pacific Mini Games in Saipan, and in 2023 won the Papua New Guinea SP Sports Award in the category of Best Person with a DisAbility.
Dorna is also the recipient of a Badminton World Federation (BWF) Female Participation Grant, which has helped support her new adventure into international badminton, and has undertaken training as an administrator with BWF to equip her to assist with the future development of badminton in PNG.
Dorna also now actively contributes to the implementation of Inclusive GymBad as a staff member.
Reflecting on her journey, Dorna said: "My favourite part about joining the Inclusive Gymbad program was getting to know other Para-athletes and coaches.
“It's the sense of community and connection that keeps me going. I draw inspiration from my fellow athletes, and the opportunity to represent Papua New Guinea on the global stage fills me with immense pride."
Vele Koro, Inclusive Gymbad’s lead development officer, emphasised the pivotal role played by Dorna's father in her transformative journey. Vele explained: "Dorna's story took root with her father's influence and recommendation to engage in Para-athletics.
“This decision not only propelled her into the realm of badminton but also positioned her as an inspiring role model for others facing similar challenges."
Dorna is currently training to compete in athletics events at the Solomon Islands 2023 Pacific Games (to be held in Honiara from November to December).
As she continues to carve out her own path, her journey stands as a testament to the profound influence of inclusive sport for development programs and the possibilities they offer people with a disability.
When asked what plans she has, Dorna said: “In the future, I aspire to take on a leadership role within my team and eventually become a coach to encourage others with disabilities to embrace the world of sports."