2012 All News
Badminton boosted by football fever
The nation’s love of football, harnessed by the pioneering Premier League 4 Sport initiative, is inspiring a new generation of young people to try out badminton - alongside the 3 other Olympic sports – and the club network is starting to net the benefits!
With last week’s announcement that £2m additional funding will support 8 Olympic sports in the programme through to 2013, badminton statistics alone speak volumes about the power of the Premier League club relationships to bolster local club communities across the country.
The ‘greatest football league in the world’ can lay claim to having encouraged over 39,000 youngsters across the country to sample Olympic sports - with badminton fast closing in on 10,000 young people having picked up a racket as a result of football club initiated on court activity.
And the even better news for junior clubs across the country is that of that new participation, 65% remain active on a badminton court – a figure that already exceeds the new Premier League Sport overall target that it has set itself to hit across all sports by 2013.
With football clubs investing in community and family badminton sessions in addition to the 80+ satellite clubs that have sprung up tied to secondary schools, badminton continues to enjoy a level of young player engagement that outstrips that of the other 3 sports, such is the attraction.
Community Trusts at the likes of Bolton Wanderers, Blackburn Rovers, Wigan Athletic and Stoke City are playing a key role in helping to identify new young badminton talent to bolster the local club scenes and inject new blood into Performance Centres.
Likewise, regular local rivalries, matched to key fixtures on the football calendar, regularly spring up on court as part of the 200+ competitive opportunities that sit within the Premier League 4 Sport initiative.
Badminton ‘derby’s, such as Newcastle v Sunderland , Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur and Aston Villa v West Brom, feature players from local satellite badminton clubs representing their team colours.
The Premier League 4 Sport scheme has also seen some household names, more akin to showing off their talents on a football pitch, swing a racket to inspire youngsters.
Arsenal and England duo, Theo Walcott and Jack Wilshere [pictured], Manchester United’s Paul Scholes, Danny Welbeck and Michael Carrick and Tottenham stars, Luka Modric and Ledley King to have all got on court with youngsters, whilst Everton’s work with local badminton clubs was featured on Match of the Day 2.
There has even been efforts put into parabadminton of late with Manchester City and Everton creating opportunities whilst also introducing new talent to the 4Nations Parabadminton tournaments.
Speaking of the successes enjoyed by the initiative, Alison Oliver, Director of Sport at the Youth Sport Trust said “Premier League 4 Sport is an excellent example of how the profile and influence of our top football clubs can be used to inspire and encourage young people to take part in a whole range of sports”.
On news that the Premier League 4 Sport structure ‘has provided a blueprint for the idea of turning secondary schools into community clubs’, Mike Diaper, Sport England Executive Director of Youth and Communities, added “It has created a ‘stepping stone’ to transition young people into community sport by bridging the gap between schools and clubs."