Saturday, March 21st, 2020 - I started playing badminton when I was 10 because my Dad forced me to play. At first it was backyard badminton, when we used to live at Strathmore, but later he brought me to play at community centres with plastic shuttles. I didn't really think much of it until he brought me to my first coach, Coach Su, when I was 12. Coach Su was a friend of my Dad's back in Tong Ji University in Shanghai. At Su's badminton, I met a lot of new friends, some of whom I still talk to today. Since I started training though, my Dad would always yell at me if I made a bad shot and that made me frustrated - actually it made me really hate the sport! But there were good times too - one fond memory was that every Sunday after practice my Dad and I would eat at the Burger King a few blocks away from the school where we played.
Obviously I was a beginner and I remember thinking back then that playing in jeans was normal. After a few years of training I started high school and switched coaches. By now I was getting better at badminton, so my Dad yelled at me less and I enjoyed the sport a lot more. I trained once a week with the new coach for about a year, then switched coaches again. I feel like I've always been moving from one coach to another or from one club to another. It was difficult to settle down because my family had difficulty affording the lessons, especially when the coaches suggested more training sessions and long-term plans (badminton isn't cheap in Canada!) so I kept looking at other clubs, hoping to find a more affordable team membership but to no avail. I always felt guilty about my parents paying for my lessons because they didn't make a lot.
Eventually when university started I had given up and gone back to playing at community centres. I was lucky to have made my university 's varsity team and met more friends through badminton. Now that I'm a graduate student and I have a source of income, I'm able to pay for my lessons at my current club, RWBC, without feeling guilty about using my parents' money. I have to admit that it was tough, quitting badminton during high school due to financial reasons even though I had a lot more potential. I cried a lot that time. I remember doing footwork in the park on weekends in high school to keep up with my friends' training (ironally right now too because of the virus!).
But, all in all, I'm really happy to say that looking back on my past, it seems I've really come a long way from that 10 year old who played backyard badminton, and also from that wandering high schooler who was clubless and was always itching to get more games in. Now I have a supportive coach and teammates, a great badminton community in Toronto, and a job to support my athletics. Looks like progress to me!