September 25, 2023
A commitment to making badminton the most inclusive and accessible sport in England and a pledge to increase the number of primary age children playing by 2033 are at the heart of the new 10-year strategy for badminton in England launched today in Manchester.
To mark the launch, ten-time World Para Badminton Champion Rachel Choong and Olympic silver medallist Nathan Robertson joined children from local primary schools in the city for badminton sessions at St. Francis School and later at Manchester Hideout Youth Zone – a centre that delivers a range of activities for young people from all backgrounds including badminton sessions run by Badminton England.
Badminton – A Sport for Everyone sets out a blueprint for the growth of the sport at all levels over the next decade, with a focus on youth and inclusion. Our wider badminton community will benefit from a more diverse and inclusive sport, which will support the growth and success of English badminton at all levels.
The strategy includes a commitment to a new primary age programme delivered through a network of junior clubs and connecting to schools and leisure centres across the country.
More community and non-traditional places and venues will open up to allow more people to enjoy the physical and social benefits of the sport.
Over one million people in England already play badminton every month but against a recent backdrop of closures to facilities, reduced opening hours and pressures on existing court space, the strategy aims to increase access to more spaces to play, including village halls, faith centres and community facilities to increase opportunities for people from a wider range of backgrounds to play the sport. Around 200 schools and community venues across the country have been earmarked for more people to play.
The strategy is being launched during The Big Hit – a week-long campaign and celebration of the sport where new and returning players are being encouraged to pick up a racket and play at clubs and facilities, as they open their doors to get more people on court.
Sue Storey, Chief Executive, Badminton England, commented: “This strategy sets out an ambitious, exciting and wide-ranging long-term plan to secure the best possible future for badminton in England. To do this we must have a focus on getting more young people especially those of primary age playing and enjoying our sport as so many children have been today here in Manchester.
“We also want to open up badminton so that more people from a wider range of backgrounds can enjoy its physical and social benefits. A more diverse and inclusive sport supports the growth and success of English badminton at all levels and we want more people to join the already one million who play regularly so we can truly make badminton a sport for everyone.”
Former player, Nathan Robertson, who alongside winning silver at the 2004 Olympics, also won 10 Commonwealth Games medals during a glittering career, added: “It was great to be in Manchester this morning and get the chance to play on court with the children. Young people are vital to the future of our sport and we need to give more of them the opportunity to try badminton and hopefully develop a love for it. It’s heartening to know that this will be a focus for our sport over the next ten years.”
The strategy, which was developed through consultation with the badminton community also outlines plans for a new national league and a new major events plan which includes the YONEX All England Open Badminton Championships, the world’s most prestigious badminton event which takes place in Birmingham in March.
It also targets further medal success at World, Olympic and Paralympic level with the aim of making England a top 10 badminton nation. There is a specific commitment to Para Badminton, which has achieved significant success at international level in recent years, with plans to develop additional high performance training for Para badminton players.
Rachel Choong, who is also part of Badminton England’s EDI (Equality, Diversity and Inclusion) Committee, added: “Making badminton more accessible to more people regardless of their backgrounds and circumstances is something I’m passionate about, so I’m pleased to see it given priority by Badminton England in this new strategy.
“Opening up more community spaces and facilities like Hideout Youth Zone here in Manchester to give more children from different backgrounds the chance to play and hopefully develop a love for the sport like I did when I was young will be crucial.”
To find out more about Big Hit Week and a badminton session near you visit https://www.badmintonengland.co.uk/bighit/
You can find out more and download and view Badminton – A Sport for Everyone here