October marks Dwarfism Awareness Month across the UK and para badminton remains of the most inclusive sports for those living with the condition.
Jacob Barreto, five-and-a-half years old, and his younger brother James, four, both have a rare form of dwarfism known Spondyloepiphyseal Dysplasia Congenita (SEDc).
Both have now taken up badminton after first experiencing the game at a Dwarf Sports Association UK (DSAuk) regional event.
Mother of the boys, Kim, has kindly decided to share their story, and how they are both already aiming for a future spot at the Paralympics.
“The boys’ first experience with badminton was when they attended a DSAuk regional Badminton session back in July 2019,” explained Kim.
“At the time James had just turned two years old, while Jacob was three, so they were really young.
“We just thought badminton would be a good sport for both to try. In the October, we were invited to attend a Racket Pack session as part of the ‘Racket Pack Tour’ with Badminton England.
“The boys had so much fun and loved all the activities. It just made them want to play the game even more.
“I asked Jacob what his plans are for the future and he said ‘I want to keep playing so I can win medals’, who knows, we may have two more competitors for a future Paralympics!
“Recently they have been attending Westfield Junior Badminton Club (in Sheffield) for the last couple of weeks and love it. They are both gaining the skills and are having lots of fun too.”
After first seeing how much they loved picking up a racket, the brothers even got the chance to meet two future Paralympians from the ParalymicsGB team in Tokyo.
She said: “The boys first met Jack Shephard and Krysten Coombs back in 2019, they were both great with them.
“They were then so excited watching them in action during the Tokyo Paralympics, which made Jacob really want to start playing again (after Covid)
“They then played with them at the Para Badminton Festival after Tokyo, which they both loved. Both were so excited, James had kept asking all morning when Jack (Shephard) was going to arrive.
“They even got the chance to hold the bronze medal Krysten (Coombs) won in Tokyo! Jack and Krysten were both brilliant again.”
Both brothers are loving playing at Westfield where, Covid permitting, they can now continue playing the sport uninterrupted.
Who knows, by the time the 2036 Games roll around, Paralympics GB could have two new para badminton stars on the podium, perhaps even a brotherly doubles triumph?
You can find a place to play para-badminton using this online form,
The YONEX All England Open Badminton Championships return to Utilita Arena Birmingham with the best players from around the world from 16th – 20th March 2022.
Don’t miss out, get your tickets today.