Meet Our Community

March 13, 2023

As the 2023 badminton season kicks into action, we take a quick whip around our community, to welcome a handful of new faces from our associations and committees.


New Zealand Technical Officials:

Simon Joe | NZ Technical Officials Committee member

Role: Assist Badminton New Zealand in an advisory capacity as well as contribute technical knowledge to ensure the growth of technical officials throughout New Zealand!

What were you doing prior to beginning this role: My day job is best described as a business partner for an insurance company, in Badminton I am a current BWF Line judge, BNH Board Member and also still competing in Senior Division(s) for BNH.

What is your background in badminton:
I have been playing badminton for almost 20 years, along the road I've had many roles within the Badminton Community, from leading the Victoria University Badminton Club for a number of years, playing for Wellington North Badminton and then once I'd moved to Auckland I became a member of Badminton North Harbour, joining the FBC Club and also leading a number of teams in BNH through Senior division!

What are you most looking forward to in the role this year: I am a keen advocate for all things badminton, and I hope to be able to work with, grow and ensure that the badminton community is supported in anything they want to do! As a member of the NZTOC I am hoping to ensure that the TO community are well supported and any aspiring TOs see how much fun it is to do what we do!

Tell us a fun fact about you: I have an unhealthy addiction to Panda related items!


Auckland Badminton:

Tony Naidu | Development Manager

Role: To strengthen and grow participation in Badminton at all levels within our region.  My role works with our High Performance Programs, Clubs, in School and outside of School programs, Academies, Competitions and Events both within our Stadium and across the many venues that we utilize within our region, our Stadium, Sponsorship and Funding. 

What were you doing prior to beginning this role: My last role was General Manager for Cricket Papua New Guinea.

What is your background in badminton:
My level of play is social.  Badminton is a great sport that is an amazing workout, however, my abilities are very much limited on the court.

What are you most looking forward to in the role this year: We are doing so many things that it is hard to pinpoint one thing.  Each week I’ve been excited about something new.  When we brought in my new Development Coordinators and seeing how we are expanding what we are able to accomplish has been great.  The new initiatives we are offering including new “Aspiring” Squads that open up opportunities for nearly 100 players from Under 13 to seniors to train like our rep players.  There are a few more that I can’t announce yet.  Like I said, each week there is something new and exciting we are doing.

Tell us a fun fact about you: I’ve abseiled off the Great Wall of China.

Contact Tony at akldevelopment@aklbadminton.com


Neha Ghanekar | Development Co-Ordinator

Role: To grow badminton programs in schools, clubs and community level. It also includes private coaching and focus on player development.

What were you doing prior to beginning this role: My last role was a Fitness Trainer for YMCA - assigning fitness programs, conducting group fitness sessions and creating sports oriented workouts.

What is your background in badminton: I am a state level player of my home country, India. I have been a competitive player for a long time in my younger days and then inclined towards being a coach. In Auckland, I have participated in some social and competitive tournaments. I aim to get back to playing competitively again in the near future.

What are you most looking forward to in the role this year: I am looking forward to come up with as many innovative programs as possible for people to participate and feel passionate about badminton. The aim is to also promote the sport among women too and increase their participation overall. In this new role, I am keen on learning new things every day and striving hard to accomplish what I have aimed for.

Tell us a fun fact about you: I like to collect old coins from different countries I have visited.

Contact Neha at community@aklbadminton.com


Warren Ji | East Development Co-Ordinator

Role: My role works with our high performance programs, clubs, in school and outside of school programs, academies, competitions and events both within our stadium and across the many venues that we utilize within our region, our stadium, sponsorship and funding.  At Auckland Badminton, we offer a diverse range of programs for all ages, and my role is to make sure we continue to deliver to a high standard and seek to grow where there are opportunities.

What were you doing prior to beginning this role: I have been a coach at Auckland Badminton for the past five years.

What is your background in badminton: Pre-Pro badminton athlete in China.

What are you most looking forward to in the role this year: Increase the quality of delivery for players and coaches in all areas and at all levels.

Tell us a fun fact about you: I skydived from 15,000 feet in Queenstown.

Contact Warren at east@aklbadminton.com


Waikato Badminton Association:

Thomas Walther | Chief Executive Officer

Role: Hoping to improve the environment, training, skill and fun level at WBA. Hoping to introduce frameworks to help all clubs and schools increase their membership numbers, engagement, and overall level. Also trying to improve the economic situation of our association and stadium.

What were you doing prior to beginning this role: Investment advisor and used to run a badminton brand a few years ago.

What is your background in badminton: I grew up in a Danish badminton club, with parents who played, volunteered and ran the club. I played at decent national level in Denmark. I have used badminton to get friends and networks while living and working in China. I have worked in FZ FORZA for 6 years, where I designed, manufactured, sourced and sold badminton equipments and ran the organisation outside Europe.

What are you most looking forward to in the role this year: We have so much going for us here in Waikato. I hope I can help install a wider sense of community around the stadium, organise training better, allowing our players and families to grow and hopefully helping our clubs grow as well. We want to continue our outreach programmes to schools, so we can build a foundation for badminton in the region in the future. We are of course proud to host the Waikato Open, the first stop on the NZ tour as well as junior tournaments, but I’m mostly looking forward to the whole process of trying to improve the association, the financials, the structure, the coaches, players and attitude. We have lots of work to do, big dreams, and I can’t wait to see how far we can go.

Contact Thomas at ceo@waikatobadminton.co.nz


Samuel Smith | Community & Events Manager

Role: Hosting and facilitating quality events here in the Waikato while growing the sport of Badminton throughout schools and the wider Waikato community, sustaining positive relationships with all around the region in the process.

What were you doing prior to beginning this role: I'm a recent Marketing and Sports Business graduate of the University of Otago. After five years in Dunedin, I also recently completed a summer internship as a Business Analyst in the Bay of Plenty kiwifruit industry.

What is your background in badminton: Admittedly, I boast a limited history and relationship with the sport of Badminton. However, I have a strong affinity with sports generally, so am excited to learn and integrate myself in the world of Badminton.

What are you most looking forward to in the role this year: In my short time here at Waikato Badminton Association so far, I can already sense the ambition and positive feelings growing in the stadium. I am excited to say I work here, and I can tell I will be proud to say I was a part of its inevitable growth in the coming months and years.

Tell us a fun fact about you: I have no formal history of playing Badminton, however, I did proudly boast a Merit grade in the NCEA Level 2 PE Badminton unit while in school.

Contact Samuel at events@waikatobadminton.co.nz


Bay of Plenty Badminton:

Donald Koh | Coaching Development Manager

Role: To develop a sustainable coaching structure for Bay of Plenty as we seek to maintain and extend growth in every corner of our Association.

What were you doing prior to beginning this role: I've previously had a 2-year stint with Wellington Badminton Association, followed by a role as CEO for Singapore Badminton Association in 2017.

What is your background in badminton: I'm from Singapore and have been very passionate with badminton since a very young age. I've had highlights including representing Singapore at several Thomas Cup, Southeast Asian Games, National Championships and in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. Since retiring as an athlete, I've worked closely with schools under the Ministry of Education, coaching, motivating and inspiring junior players to one day be in the National team.

What are you most looking forward to in the role this year: I look forward to bringing my experiences, and technical expertise to the Bay community and bring the play to the next level!


Whanganui Badminton:

Simone Geange | Development Officer

Role: To increase awareness and opportunities to interact, play and learn the skills of badminton for both recreational and competitive players and future players in our community. The aim is to grow Badminton into a thriving and fun sport, that will attract more engagement from players and public.

What were you doing prior to beginning this role: I was working in healthcare, particularly skin cancer. This lead to the birth of my own little business, Oak + I, where we make all natural skin and body care products.

What is your background in badminton:
I was introduced to badminton through our intermediate school project about 20 years ago. I instantly loved the sport and entered the junior competitive scene for many years. I took a break from playing badminton while I travelled and grew my family. Now I am back at the badminton hall, loving the game and the community we are building.

What are you most looking forward to in the role this year: Showing people that badminton can be a high paced, high skill sport and not just a slow chilled Sunday afternoon game at the family picnic haha!

Tell us a fun fact about you: My bookshelf is full of philosophical books.

Contact Simone at b.whanganui@outlook.co.nz


Badminton Canterbury:

Debbie Lennane-Henry | Office Manager

Role: Office Manager for Badminton Canterbury

What were you doing prior to beginning this role: I previously worked briefly for Sport Canterbury as Admin Support and before that Administration Manager for Jennian Homes West Coast.

What is your background in badminton: Backyard badminton! I've never played seriously - but I am a squash and tennis player though!

What are you most looking forward to in the role this year: Making a positive difference within the Badminton Canterbury whanau, getting to know the players and our community.

Tell us a fun fact about you: I love playing team sports, walking my dog, going to the beach and putting my feet up with a good book and a glass of red wine!

Contact Debbie at office@badmintoncanterbury.com

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