January 2012 All News
Badminton clubs benefiting from casual court time
For some of our loyal 50,000 strong club members, the prospect of casual court time bookings and back to basics coaching may be a far cry from the competitive edge of a club night but over the past 2 years the level of organised low cost sociable badminton opportunities has been on the rise.
…and the good news for our well established club network is that for those clubs ready, eager and willing to embrace casual play, there are a host of benefits to capitalise on.
A pool of potential new players of all ability, exciting new channels in which to increase local awareness of your club and the chance to identify new talent on which to bolster your club teams are all opportunities formed out of local social badminton initiatives, backed by BADMINTON England.
Take No Strings Badminton, for instance. BADMINTON England’s pioneering ‘pay and play’ social badminton initiative is sweeping across the country with over 330 low cost weekly sessions at over 270 venues, aimed at beginners, novices and those rekindling their love of our sport.
With over 21,000 adults, of all ages and ability, now joined up for free and fully engaged in the initiative, No Strings Badminton has shown all the signs of being a reliable feeder service into local clubs as players’ skill levels and confidence on court develop.
And the even better news is that a noticeable chunk of existing badminton clubs are now enquiring about the prospect of hosting No Strings Badminton sessions, alongside traditional club names, to add another string to their bow as the hunt for new members hots up.
The likes of Towcester Titans and Etwall Dragons, to name but 2, are the perfect blueprint where the transfer from semi-structured casual play to club player has reaped results.
With dwindling numbers, Towcester Titans once feared for their future as a club but have since flourished after establishing strong relationships with the well attended local No Strings Badminton sessions at Towcester Leisure Centre. Now the club is positioned as the obvious next step as players progress and a regular feed boosts club numbers, helping to support the club’s sustainability!
At the other end of the scale, Etwall Dragons adult club, newly formed for the 2011/12 season, started life as a No Strings Badminton session. In their prime, back in early 2011, a turn out of 12 players played socially on court. Now, as a fully fledged affiliated club, local awareness has grown and there are 24 members on the books.
Both Towcester and Etwall are thriving examples of how casual court time can, with openness and willingness from the local badminton community, be successfully transformed into a club or help support the existing club network.
And it is not just on the adult badminton scene where the transition from casual court time with friends is ascending into fully affiliated clubs offering both weekly social and competitive game-play.
The PremierLeague 4 Sport programme, which uses the power of football clubs and well known players to entice school children to try out other Olympic sports, has engaged over 9,000 children to pick up a racket.
Such demand for badminton - driven by taster sessions, free coaching, family weekends and local inter-club competitions – is also buoyed with the statistic that over 65% of the children have since gone on to play regularly in the 80+ new satellite clubs, led football’s community trusts and foundations.
The likes of Bolton Wanderers, Arsenal, Blackburn Rovers and Stoke City have also played crucial roles in discovering and identifying new young badminton talent to bolster league clubs and, further up the player pathway, in Performance Centres.
As 2012 gets into full swing ahead of this summer, general awareness of casual court time opportunities will hit new heights, both nationally - through No Strings Badminton, PlayBadminton.co.uk and the Yehlex-supported Badminton Bonanza Series - as well as locally.
To satisfy local calls for more low cost, non competitive badminton, initiatives such as Back2Badminton, the North West Tri-Badminton Series, Badders in the City [London-wide] and after-work corporate badminton court time will continue to play a huge part in BADMINTON England’s regional armoury.
So the call out is there for our network of 2,000+ established clubs to embrace local casual court time, rally around friends to encourage them to give the game a second look and throw open the doors, where capacity allows, to welcome new players of all ability.