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Being unable to play badminton for the majority of the past 15 months has been tough for players of all ages and juniors are no different.

Having missed out on the social and physical benefits of being on court, we have been determined to ensure young people returning to play are able to do so in a safe and enjoyable manner following a lockdown period which has seen us look to support our young players in a variety of ways.

Throughout the easing of restrictions, we have been aiding junior clubs with their returns with facilities support along with return to play guidance and resources, with 65% of junior clubs now linked to a venue open for badminton.

Upon returning to the court in April, nine-year-old Katherine Dormer spoke for us all when she said: “It’s great being able to play again and practice my smashes! I’ve really missed playing over the winter.”

For those youngsters for whom school provides the primary access to the sport, we have developed guidance documents to assist teachers in delivering fun and engaging lessons both indoors and outdoors.

This has had an impact for pupils of all ages, with primary schools directed to the ‘socially distanced module’ and secondary schools receiving their own tailored guidance.

Our Resource Hub also contains a range of support information including lesson plans, competition and festival ideas, teacher training and student leadership opportunities – all with the aim of encouraging an increase in badminton delivery in schools.

To that end, a ‘Schools and Young People’ guide for teachers and SGOs has been produced to support conversations and improve access to badminton.

Elsewhere on our website, the junior section has been revamped and improved to make opportunities to play easier to access.

See the overview here or check out our dedicated pages for finding a club, finding a coach and locating a session that suits you in The Racket Pack (5-11-year-olds) or SmashUp (11-16-year-olds).

Young players have also been supported through their time away from court to ensure they remained engaged with the sport from home.

The #BEatHome activities helped keep juniors active during lockdowns, as did virtual lessons and fun badminton challenges with the help of some of our England Junior Pathway players.

Our Young Leaders Academy, meanwhile, was able to expand to reach a greater number of people than ever before despite the circumstances.

Delivered virtually, the biggest cohort of youngsters we’ve ever engaged took part in this year’s programme, equipping the next generation of coaches, volunteers and players with vital skills to both increase their confidence and social skills as well as adding experience to CVs.

We hope to see plenty of these young leaders utilising these new skills as the return to the court continues and some could yet follow in the footsteps of Annie Zhu, who took part in the Young Leaders Academy and went on to be named our 2020 Young Volunteer of the Year.

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