Friday, July 15, 2011

The Canadian Badminton Funding System: Explained

Disclaimer: This article is written by myself, Toby Ng, and will address the situation based on my perspective. Though I may try my best to be neutral, there may be bias in certain parts, which I have hopefully indicated at various parts of the article. I am writing this because I want to tell my story and I encourage you to look for other people's perspectives to complete the story so you can make a proper judgement for yourself. However, I don't know who else will bother writing about it other than myself, but I feel I owe it to my fans and followers about what has happened to my financial situation this year...

The Canadian funding system is rather unique in Canada. The major funding for badminton actually comes from Sport Canada. Sport Canada is a government agency responsible for identifying and funding potential athletes that can place in the Top 16 at the World Championships and Olympics. That's the general idea. It's a rather broad protocol, as a lot of sports are supported through this system, so specifics are left for the National Sport Organizations (NSOs) to figure out. The Sport Canada system is referred to as the Athlete Assistance Program, or AAP, with funding given out in 'cards', or 'carding', as I will refer to it.

Different sports will have different amounts of funding, as in a different number of cards. How the system works is that Sport Canada will fund individuals based on the NSOs criteria. So a Doubles team for Badminton would require 2 cards for both players to be funded, for example. Here is a list of Canadian athletes who are getting funding. I don't believe Badminton is included because of our lengthy appeal process, but the list will be up shortly.

As you can see, there are quite a few cards for certain sports. Generally, the more of a medal/podium potential of a sport, the more cards the sport gets. How many cards do you think badminton has? If you guessed 5 or 6, you would be correct, but let's break down the details a little further first. There are 3 types of cards. SR (senior) cards, C1 (first-year senior cards), and D (developmental) cards. D-cards are for U-23 athletes and funding comes at $900 CAD/month for a year, so that means $10 800 CAD/year. C1 cards are given to athletes who are eligible for senior cards, but it's their first year. Unforutnately, that means they also get $900 CAD/month ($10 800 CAD/year), but only for the first year. After that, if they get senior carded again, they get the SR card status of $1500 CAD/month, or $18 000 CAD/year. Now that you have a general understanding, Badminton Canada gets 5 SR cards per year. However, 2 SR cards can be split into 3 D-cards. The advantage of this is that Badminton Canada can fund 6 people now (3 SR + 3 D), but there is obviously less money to go around. For this current year (November 2010-October 2011), we have 6 cards. As far as I know, here are the Canadian athletes receiving funding for this year:

Stephan Wojcikiewicz (MS)
David Snider (MS)
Joycelyn Ko (WS)
Michelle Li (WS/WD - unclear which event, but most likely WS)
Alex Bruce (WD)
Phyllis Chan (unclear)

Let's break things down again. However, there is a little bit of uncertainty because I'm not sure who has what card, but I can make an educated guess. Here was the original proposed list by Badminton Canada back in October 2010 (to the best of my memory):

Toby Ng (SR)
Grace Gao (SR)
Stephan Wojcikiewicz (SR)
Michelle Li (D)
Dave Snider (D)
Alex Bruce (D)

But, Sport Canada rejected it based on Badminton Canada's carding criteria, since athletes had to meet the published 2010-2011 criteria, so it became:

Michelle Li (C1)
Dave Snider (SR)
Joycelyn Ko (C1)
Alex Bruce (D)
Alex Pang (D)
Phyllis Chan (D)

Stephan, Grace, and I appealed, but only Stephan made it through, so from what I can deduce, the carding situation at the moment should be:

Stephan Wojcikiewicz (SR)
Dave Snider (SR)
Joycelyn Ko (SR)
Michelle Li (D)
Alex Bruce (D)
Phyllis Chan (D)

Though this may be incorrect, this is how it must be, as Joycelyn is ineligible for a D-card, and Dave Snider should be keeping his SR card. As Stephan also is ineligible for a D card, he must have an SR card, meaning Michelle has been demoted to a D card. Hopefully, this is incorrect, because if anything, Michelle should be keeping a C1 (Senior) card with Dave being demoted because Michelle had better results (based on 2010 Nationals placing and World Ranking). Anyway, let's breakdown how each athlete qualified. I will try to just lay out the facts without adding my own opinion. You can decide for yourself how ridiculous it is.

First off, everyone who qualified for Carding on that list qualified based on results at the 2010 Canadian National Championships in Winnipeg. Grace and I had a freak loss in the QFs because we just came back from Asia. We played Korea Open, then Malaysia Open, then came back the next week for Nationals. It gets a little more complicated, but at the moment, it isn't the topic at hand. Since we made a QF only, we were ineligible for carding because you need to have finished in the top 3 (which was later changed to top 4, as Stephan appealed).

- Stephan (4th Place MS) - lost in SF to Martin Guiffre; lost 3/4 to Dave Snider (via Walkover)
- Dave Snider (3rd Place MS) - lost in SF to Alex Pang
- Joycelyn Ko (3rd Place WS) - lost in SF to Michelle Li; won 3/4 vs Valerie St. Jacques
- Michelle Li (2nd Place WS/2nd Place WD) - lost in F to Anna Rice (WS); lost in F to Melody Liang/Lydia Jiang (WD)
- Alex Bruce (2nd Place WD) - lost in F to Melody Liang/Lydia Jiang (WD)
- Phyllis Chan (Results from U23 Nationals - 2nd Place WS, 1st Place WD) - lost in F to Michelle Li; won WD with Melody Liang

Though Grace and I had lost in the QF for XD, it is worth noting that I had a 2nd place in MD with Adrian Liu, while Grace had a 3rd place in WD with Anna Rice at the Nationals. However, these results cannot be used because the carding criteria has certain restrictions.

It goes a little further though, because in the respective event, placing in the top 4 at Nationals is just one of the eligibility criteria. World Ranking also makes a difference, so that is why Stephan and Dave have carding over Alex Pang, because Alex's World Ranking was the lowest. But that's all Priority #3 of the Carding Criteria. Since we didn't qualify for Priority #3, we had to attempt Priority #2: International Results. If you're that curious, Priority #1 is a top-16 World Ranking by the way. Anyway, back to the International Results, the 2009-2010 criteria for Priority #2 was only TWO International results from the following list:

- International Challenge - 1
- Grand Prix - Top 2
- Grand Prix Gold - Top 8
- Super Series - Top 16
- Defeat a team in the Top 20 in a BWF competition

But unfortunately for us, it was changed to FOUR Internationa results for 2010-2011 from the following list:

- International Challege - 1
- Grand Prix - Top 2
- Grand Prix Gold - Top 4
- Super Series - Top 8
- Defeat a team in the Top 20 in a BWF competition

Also, the qualifying period changed from October 1, 2008-September 30, 2009 to October 1, 2009-August 31, 2010, reducing the qualifying period by a month. In any case, let's look at our athletes again (rough estimate of International results):

- Stephan: 2009 Pan Am Champs - 2nd (MS)
- Dave: N/A
- Joycelyn: 2009 Pan Am Champs - 2nd (WS)
- Michelle: N/A (honorable mentions: Peru IC & Canada IC (WS): 2nd Place)
- Alex: N/A
- Phyllis: N/A (honorable mention: Peru IC (XD): 2nd Place).

Whereas, Grace and I had a few more:

- Toby/Grace (XD): 2009 Pan Am Champs, 2010 Peru IC, & 2010 Canada IC: 1st Place; honorable mention: Guatemala IC - 1st place (mid-September 2010).

We technically made 4 results if we include September 2010 and make it a 12 month qualifying period. Otherwise, we would have met it for sure if we only needed 2 results (based on 2009-2010 criteria). But since we didn't follow the EXACT criteria, Badminton Canada had to default to people who were eligible based on exact criteria, hence the 2nd list because Sport Canada turned down the first one. However, since they knew we were going to appeal the decision, they froze the money until we sorted things out. Badminton Canada then had to assemble an Internal Appeals Committee which included:

- Fiona McKee (Badminton Canada Player's Association Representative - Vice President)
- Frank Gaudet (Badminton Saskatchewan - President)
- Grant McDonald (Badminton Saskatchewan - Executive Director & was the Committee Leader for our Internal Appeal)
- Maurice Boudreau (Badminton New Brunswick - President)

Unfortunately, they couldn't find a 5th person, as is usually required. Also, Fiona McKee and I never got along, so that was another issue that was temporarily raised, but not addressed. As the Player's Association's other member was my brother, that would have definitely been a conflict... The burning question that still hasn't been answered was how this Appeals Committee came to the conclusion that '6 months is enough time for a Canadian player/team to make 3 eligible International results, with the minimum result being an International Challenge win... which to this day has not been answered.

In the end, we were turned down by the Internal Appeals Committee and Badminton Canada was bound by their decision. We tried to appeal again with the Sport Dispute Resolution Center of Canada (SDRCC) but that was very recently declined as well. However, we will find out the reasoning behind it soon enough. I anticipate it may be due to the technicality of things, more or less certain wording or procedures that we might have missed. I'm not a lawyer and I don't think I ever will be, so what would I know about these things anyway? I'm supposed to be a badminton player, but I guess we need to insert an adjective now, because I'm now a "poor" badminton player. Interpret that anyway you want, because making money takes time away from training... enough said.

So, that's a general idea of the overall carding situation. If you would like more details, please comment on the post, or ask me, PM me, etc. If you can brainstorm any ideas for better criteria, please share those as well, because I hope to be able to help make changes to this broken system so that these things won't hurt the deserving athletes. Though everyone who was eligible is deserving of a card, when push comes to shove and there isn't enough funding for everyone, just leaving it to the system to solve the problem may not be the best idea.

Oh, just for the record, we qualified for the upcoming year (2011-2012) of carding ONE WEEK after we received word of our carding application being declined in November 2010... so yeah, it's definitely frustrating... Also, I'm NOT mad at Badminton Canada, just the Internal Appeal Committee members. Badminton Canada maintained a very neutral stance, and though it would have been nice for them to just come out and nominate us, at least they remained very neutral... unlike the Internal Appeals Committee (in MY opinion). I hope I presented mostly factual information in this article and I hope I wasn't too biased.

Thank you for your time if you read the article. I hope you get a better picture of at least my side of the story.


  1. Thanks for sharing this - it is indeed eye-opening. There are several flaws to the entire funding protocol from Sport Canada and Badminton Canada from what I summize. ie: i notice there are some professional athletes that receive funding (Kevin Martin - curling; Rebecca Marino, Milos Roanic - tennis) is there a purse in the tournaments you enter? if so then, my last point is moot. Nonetheless, I do support your view that the appeals ctte is flawed simply because there were only 4 ppl on a ctte - find a 5th or don't hold the arbitration - it's simple ethics!!

    Fight the fight Toby - and I hope by writing this article, you're able to relieve some of the tension. And I hope you are able to put CANADA back on your shirt..because Canada would lose a lot if it lost NG on the back of theirs...

    Take care my friend!

  2. Hi! This is a very random question but how many visitors did you get at your first month of blogging? Just asking...

  3. Really depends on what you blog about and how much you advertise and everything. I didn't get very many at all, but over a longer time it will slowly grow as long as you keep updating regularly (which I haven't really at the moment).