10 years! What was meant to be a small charity project with a few badminton friends became a worldwide and well known foundation, seen all around the planet on the shirts of pro and leisure players, and, mostly, with actions impacting many children around the world.
“We had absolutely no idea that this would have such an impact in the world of badminton when we first launched the foundation,” says Pi Hongyan, former world #2 and Solibad’s Global Ambassador, who was part of the project from its early stages together with French photo-journalist Raphael Sachetat and a handful of other friends.
In 10 years, the charity has been able to raise more than US$300,000 (€275,000) with over 4,000 children who benefited from the programs. Over 2,000 racquets and 600 pairs of shoes have been collected – mostly in France but not also elsewhere – and sent to the badminton programs of Solibad, mostly in Brazil, Indonesia and Haiti. Some of the children had never seen a racquet before, nor worn any shoes to play sports. And badminton, for some, has become a key tool to get away from very difficult living conditions.
“So many things have happened in these 10 years. Some incredibly happy moments, some very sad ones too, but this is what life is all about. We are just proud that we were able to make a small difference in the lives of those who were not born as lucky as most of us were,” says Raphael Sachetat. “But one thing we are very proud of, is that during all these years, we kept the admin costs to a very minimum – all supported by our boutique sales or partners, which means that we can say that 100% of the money we raised and donations during all these years have gone to the programs. And also, even after 10 years, we still keep the same humble approach for each new program we invest in: we listen to the local populations and foundations we help as they often have a better understanding of the problems than we do. Our role remains a simple help to make them sustainable on their own.”
22 programs, 16 countries all over the world
In 10 years, the 22 programs have impacted children from 16 different countries, in all regions of the globe. Some have been badminton related programs, some not – even if rackets and shuttlecocks were still brought on site to bring an extra bit of fun to sometimes very tough environments. Many different programs as well, from financing the education of AIDS-stricken teenagers in Uganda – or funding a well for the village – to financing daily activities of a shelter for young women who were victims of human trafficking in Laos, or more recently a library in India for children belonging to the “untouchable” cast. In Brazil and Indonesia, the badminton programs have been very successful. Some of the youngsters are now becoming champions in their local tournaments, amongst which some who were brought up in the worst environment and for which badminton has given life a new flavour.
Solibad’s history is also about the moments that over 1,000 volunteers from all over the world have lived together. The Solibad Flashmobs have made their marks with over 100 cities around the globe participating in a giant badminton choreography few years ago. Some artists like Louie’s Cage Percussion from Austria have added their touch with the Solibad Song released early 2019. Some crazy adventurers have travelled around the world wearing Solibad’s colours – Geraldine Yam cycling from Singapore to Istanbul, Clémentine Julien and her friends touring the World, Maxime François alone on his bike doing his own “Tour de France” to visit badminton clubs, amongst others.
There have been some great parties, too, and celebrations and gatherings. One of the highlights of these past 10 years were the three editions of the “One Nights with Stars”, where the likes of Peter Gade, Park Joo Bong, BWF’s very own President Poul-Erik Hoyer, Pi Hongyan, Mathias Boe, Lee Yong Dae and many other stars participated in amazing events, in Geneva, Switzerland first and then more recently in Orléans, France.
Top Ambassadors have been a key to Solibad’s success and so many of them have been so generous with their time, money or dedication to promote Solibad’s work. Lee Yong Dae, Tai Tzu Ying, Carolina Marin, Huang Yaqiong, Sung Ji Hyun, Greysia Polii are amongst the many athletes who donate on a regular basis – some have opted to participate in the “1% for Solibad Campaign” where they donate 1% of their prize money. Peter Gade had even auctioned a European Championship gold medal for Solibad! Many others give their shirts and racquets for auction to raise some funds. Some even posed in sexy outfits for one of Solibad’s calendars a while back.
Clubs, leagues and federations have also been very supportive – 18 national badminton federations and close to 250 clubs around the world have signed the Solibad Charter.
“There are just too many things to recall – so many crazy moments. But we certainly hope that this is only just a beginning. And we shall continue to do our best, to do things seriously without taking ourselves seriously, as our motto says,” explains Raphael Sachetat.
Any readers who are interested in making a donation can do so by following this link.
A small video clip has been produced for the 10-year anniversary
All images are free for editorial purposes ( Copyright: Solibad )