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Teaching court craft to refugees

other Updated: Aug 13, 2009 00:45 IST
Abhijeet Kulkarni
Abhijeet Kulkarni
Hindustan Times
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“I almost died of malaria.” Hardly an expected opening line from the president of the Badminton Players Federation's (BPF) especially when the conversation's about its initiative to promote the sport.

But then William Milroy was speaking about a training programme in the backyard of UNHCR’s (United Nations High Commisioner for Refugees) camps in Uganda, a country torn between a civil war and poverty.

Before the programme started though, the Canadian had to check into a local hospital following an adverse reaction to an anti-malaria drug.

“I guess it was my mistake that I did not take the right precautions. But it also told me a lot about the condition of the people,” Milroy told HT.

The Canadian isn’t playing here because of a knee injury but had come to conduct a players’ meeting and facilitate an “amalgamation” between the BPF and the Badminton World Federation (BWF).

Speaking about the two-week training programme in Uganda refugee camps, Milroy said : “The idea is to promote the sport among the under privileged class and I am happy that even the BWF is supporting our cause,” said the 31-year-old, who has been heading the players' body since 2003.

“It was group of around 100 people, mostly women and children. We trained them in open fields with very little facilities. But the enthusiasm was overwhelming,” he said.

Milroy plans to build two courts at the refugee camps and is to take more players there next year. But before that he is busy finding a successor.