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    Default Badminton in Central and South America

    Reid gives life lessons though badminton

    The Canadian Press

    Saturday, July 21, 2007 - 02:00

    Sports - A pair of court shoes is a luxury at Sebastio Dias de Oliveira's badminton training centre in Favela da Chacrinha, one of this Brazilian city's many hillside shanty towns.

    Neighbourhood kids who are learning the sport there play on the rock-hard concrete floor in bare feet or flip-flops.

    They don't seem to mind. They are getting an opportunity many other children could only dream of.

    Oliveira, a 42-year-old teacher, has poured his own money and sweat into building a badminton-specific training centre for children in an effort to get them off the streets.

    Canadian badminton player Charmaine Reid, who won two silver medals this week at the Pan American Games in Rio, is amazed at what Oliveira has been able to accomplish with limited resources.

    "It think this program is wonderful," said Reid. "It's just truly amazing, this facility. I'm so happy I was able to come out here and play with the kids and see what he has done."

    Reid, from Fort Erie, and her doubles partner Fiona McKee of Markham, visited Friday to hit some shuttles with the kids and deliver some much-needed equipment.

    Reid and McKee left behind some shirts, a couple of nets and an extra special gift - one of Reid's rackets.

    They also handed out Canadian flags and pins to the delight of the children, who gleefully waved the flags and asked the athletes for autographs. They were most impressed by the Pan Am medals won by Reid and McKee.

    Reid told them it had always been her dream to compete at the Olympics, which she accomplished in 2004 in Athens, and encouraged them to set goals of their own. Oliveira says his dream has already come true.

    "It fulfilled my dream to bring kids to me," he said. "It's something I wanted all my life."

    Oliveira grew up in an institution in Rio and has seen many of the kids he knew there die young, struggle with substance abuse, or get involved in crime. By building this facility, he's hoping children in his neighbourhood won't fall into the same traps.

    "I use sport to train them for life later," he said. "I don't plan to have badminton champions. We want to put them in society."

    There are hundreds of favelas in Rio, many of which are plagued by crime. The training centre, which he started building in 1998, is not exactly state of the art. The large, boxy, concrete structure is only partly finished. There are no windows or doors and a roof was only recently installed over the court.

    Yet, Oliveira has big plans.

    When it is all done, hopefully in about six months, he plans to include a study room, a workout room with treadmills and exercise bikes, and other training areas. Right now, the facility can accommodate about 300.

    Oliveira, who discovered his passion for badminton at a school where he worked after leaving the institution, hopes he will one day have room for some 2,000 youth.

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    Athletes play badminton as they participate in the opening ceremony of the Guatemala Olympic Sports Street in Guatemala City July 2, 2007.
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    AP - Thu Jul 19, 3:59 PM ET Kevin Cordon, from Guatemala, shows his silver medal won in the Badminton Men's Singles competition of the Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, Thursday, July 19, 2007. (AP Photo/Armando Franca)
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    Very interesting cooler.

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