Colne BC 1800

Colne Badminton Club’s enthusiastic junior section are continuing to enjoy their return to the court following a Christmas festival to remember.

The Lancashire-based outfit have limited the numbers attending junior sessions for Covid safety reasons but are welcoming around 35 youngsters to Pendle Leisure Centre on Friday evenings, with hopes this number will rise as and when infection rates fall.

Sharon de Maine is the senior coach for the junior section, which celebrated its 10th anniversary last September, and believes the sessions are vital for the short and long-term health of the club as a whole, as well as the morale of the junior members.

“The kids come down and they absolutely love it,” de Maine said. “They’re really sad if they have to miss a session.

“We have plenty going on and we’ve had to bring in a waiting list for new members, which we’ve not had to do before.

“We have dips and flows of numbers every year. When the juniors reach the end of year 11, eight or nine will join the senior club, but we’ll then pick up new juniors in year 7 because badminton is part of the school curriculum and we have some good support schools.

“I’m hoping from September onwards we can be back to where we were three years ago, when we had around 50 youngsters.

“The ex-juniors make up about two-thirds of the senior club – without the juniors in the senior club, there wouldn’t be one.”

Colne also encourage their juniors to take their first strides on the coaching ladder and three – Ruairi, Ethan and Joe – became Badminton England-qualified coaches when they passed their Foundation Course in Coaching Badminton last year.

And while training evenings go down a treat, Colne’s youngsters have particularly enjoyed getting stuck into competitive action around the north-west when possible.

“The M65 junior league has managed one friendly tournament on a Sunday, which was very well attended and we had a good time,” de Maine said.

“The Greater Manchester junior league is planning two tournaments before the end of the season in July and there’s one more M65 planned for March 6, when we’ll have about 70 or 80 kids come from various clubs round and about.

“We also hosted a Christmas event which was very well attended – every young player on the books was there for that.

“It was the first tournament that was played after lockdown and there were trophies and chocolates, which went down well, as well as Christmas jumpers, hats and tinsel on the nets. We had around 35 in that over two sessions and it was really enjoyable.”

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