The past year has been an extremely challenging one for everyone, and that has been no different in the world of badminton.
For badminton players up and down the land 2020 was a frustrating time, with Covid-19 rules and national lockdowns preventing clubs, coaches and players from playing the game they love.
Understanding this, we have taken steps over the last 14 months in order to support the community and build towards a return to play, and we continue to do so as we move forwards and hopefully out of the pandemic.
It feels like a long time ago now but back in April 2020, when the first national lockdown was only just beginning, we delivered our BE At Home campaign.
This was an interactive campaign designed to help keep our clubs, members and coaches busy throughout the first lockdown – this featured home workout tips, social takeovers and fun games.
A month on, we contacted over 2,500 people from our affiliated clubs and coaches, mainly through calls, to make sure they were okay and to ask how we could support them during what was a tough time.
We know how difficult the last year has been for our clubs and coaches financially too, and so we launched a Hardship Fund in July 2020 to help clubs and members get back on court.
The work we had done through our facility mapping also enabled us to map which venues were open or closed at the time and the impact this was having on clubs.
This allowed us to provide proactive support for clubs in need of finding new venues.
And during the summer of 2020 we also implemented a discount or donate option for clubs and club members for the 2020/21 season, where they could choose to pull full price or take a 25% discount, while an extension to direct members of three months was also offered.
Across the second lockdown during the winter months of December 2020 through to March 2021 we held over 50 membership co-creation sessions with over 200 members, including leagues, clubs, coaches and young leaders, where the badminton community created their new membership scheme.
Putting the members at the heart of the scheme, and to ensure that all clubs have to worry about next year is getting back on court, this has been put back to 2022/2023.
As the months have rolled by the outlook has become much brighter and in March we developed Badminton England TV.
For the very first time we were able to broadcast every court from every day of the YONEX All England Championships, which was made available for free to any members that renewed for the 2020/2021 season.
In order to understand the challenges facing clubs as we emerge out of the pandemic, and in order to ensure we do so in a stronger position as a sport, we launched the Let’s Talk Badminton consultation across April and May.
Now, with the sun shining and the end of restrictions hopefully near, we want to help get clubs and players on court this summer.
We’ve extended the club affiliation of any club that had renewed for this season for FREE to cover next season, so it will now expire on 31st October 2022.
We’ve also reinstated the club affiliation of any club that joined in the 2019/20 season for FREE, and have not renewed for this year, until 31st October 2021 and we’ve made club affiliation FREE for any new clubs joining this summer, expiring on the same date.
In order to further support members we’ve also extended any club members that have joined this season for FREE, so they will now expire on 31st October 2022 while we’ve reinstated any individual club members that were registered last season, and have not renewed for this year, for FREE until 31st October 2021.
To encourage more people to take part we’ve allowed clubs to sign up any additional players over the summer for FREE Badminton England memberships which will expire on 31st October 2021.
Any club members, reinstated or signing up new over the summer, will then need to renew as normal in September for next season, with membership prices frozen for the third consecutive year.
And we’ve also offered direct members a four-month extension to compensate for lost time.
Feedback on the Return to Play offer from membership has been really positive and is hopefully helping lots more people get back on court.