Since moving to the new £46 million Plymouth Life Centre in 2012 the Club has had to step up to the plate on several fronts. Around 2010 the Club’s Andy Crocker and Membership Secretary Sandra Chenery began to engage with Badminton England and the Plymouth City Council Sports Development Unit over the formation of the Plymouth Community Badminton Network. The Club became a key partner helping to promote badminton in the Plymouth area.
When the Plymouth Life Centre opened in 2012 the Centre’s management company Everyone Active was looking for an existing badminton club to anchor its badminton activities. Sandra Chenery says; “As we were already known to and working with local partners we were the obvious choice to be invited to transfer to the brand new 12 court facility. It wasn’t an easy decision as there were financial implications and the expectation that we would support Everyone Active in their efforts to promote badminton in the Centre and wider City. I along with Andy Crocker, Club Secretary Neil Hammacott and, Treasurer Mark Hawker spent many hours going through the pros and cons. However, in the end it was a no-brainer and in March 2012 we took our first tentative steps into the new facility.
Fast forward four years and badminton is flourishing at the Life Centre. All ages from primary school to pensioners are involved. On a Wednesday evening for example all 12 courts will be occupied by the Club, No Strings, and private bookings. Alongside this there is also Essentials and Club coaching activities. No one organisation could hope to run all the activities and certainly not a club run by a few volunteers with full time jobs.
The model for our success has evolved largely through trial and error. It’s certainly something that other clubs and facilities could consider. And, certainly those pressed for time or lacking expertise in specific areas.”
There are five elements to the model for badminton initiatives at the Life Centre that badminton players can join in with and transfer from one to another as their game and interest develops.
1. No Strings: The Life Centre runs several No Strings sessions through the week. Andy Crocker who’s also a Licensed Level 2 Coach periodically assists regular coach Harry Mo with these sessions. Andy says; “I really enjoy leading these sessions and Harry and I often identify players who could move into a more competitive club environment”. Harry has also run some wheelchair badminton sessions that have been thoroughly enjoyed.
2. Coaching: As well as popular Essential sessions run by Everyone Active the Club has also run its own 8 week “Advanced Essentials” courses.
3. Juniors: There is a very successful Friday evening Life Centre Junior Club run by Everyone Active. This is the successor to the Mayflower Junior Club and, players are still being signposted to the senior club.
4. Social Competitions: Everyone Active’s Activities Manager Louise Chaves has been a vital partner to the Club and, has promoted a number of tournaments aimed at social and No Strings players. On the day these are run by the Club’s Sandra Chenery with assistance from Club members.
5. Plymouth Life Centre Badminton Club: During the league season the Club will have six or more courts devoted to both matches and social play. Through the summer off season it promotes their coaching activities which have gone from strength to strength. Andy Crocker says; “At times it can be very hectic but, with the assistance of the Club’s officers, team captains and Everyone Active staff we get through the evening and everyone has a good time!”
In conclusion Club Chairman Andy Crocker says; “The key to our success has been the relationships we have built with a number of partners. We keep the lines of communication open and continue to help each other out with our own little bits of expertise. It’s a model that works well for us and we’re confident it will continue to do so”.