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Formed as a small of group of six friends playing in their local sports hall four years ago, a commitment to inclusivity and accessibility has since seen Bristol Swifts Badminton Club grow into an integral part of the local community.

Membership numbers have evolved towards the 100 mark thanks to an open-arm policy which encourages anyone from all walks of life to pick up a racket and get involved, regardless of sexual orientation.

A focus on providing a safe and welcoming environment for people to develop their badminton skills has facilitated the formation of strong friendships, as well as the improvement of physical and mental health.

Pride Month offers an opportunity for such success of LGBTQ+ clubs to be recognised and celebrated, and Bristol Swifts’ Fiach O’Rourke is hopeful the club can make further strides going forward.

He said: “From the beginning we’ve just tried to remove as many barriers as possible. Whether that be age, gender, sexuality, race – anything – we’re welcoming to whoever wants to attend.

“Whether you’re new to the sport, whether you picked up a racket 30 years ago and have decided to take it up again, or whether you’ve been playing continuously for the last ten years – we’re open and accessible to people from as many walks of life as possible.”

In the wake of such thriving numbers O’Rourke warns it is imperative that clubs stick to their roots, and avoid adopting a more selective strategy that would hinder their focus on providing an inclusive badminton setting.

And though Covid-19 complications have somewhat impacted the LGBTQ+ community’s Pride Month celebrations – that take place across the world every June – Bristol Swifts are showcasing their support for the movement in the best way they can.

O’Rourke added: “We stemmed as a social badminton club and typically over time clubs become more competitive. Because of that clubs can become more selective, which results in a loss of the main philosophy.

“We’re a social club and we want to be available to anyone who wants to come and play. It’s important that other clubs don’t forget their roots.

“During Pride Month last year we gathered as a friendship group in the park, within the Covid-19 limits that were allowed. We’re hoping to do that again this year, as well as showing our support on social media.”

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