The efforts of Suffolk Badminton Association (SBA) have been rewarded after Suffolk was named County of the Year at the National Badminton Awards.
The SBA has been a driving force in increasing the spotlight on badminton in the county, leading on the development of the innovative Suffolk Strategic Badminton Partnership.
Supported by Badminton England, the Association has successfully delivered a plan for the engagement and growth of the game.
This included being an important partner in the development of NBL franchise Suffolk Saxons, who finished fifth in their maiden year in the AJ Bell National Badminton League, and featured players such as former England international Andy Ellis as captain and current England star Sean Vendy.
From what started as part of a development journey in 2016, as a Badminton England strategic pilot, the SBA has gone from strength to strength, meeting a number of its key aims.
Suffolk has seen an increase in weekly participation of those aged 16 and over from 7,300 to 9,000 and currently has 45 affiliated clubs (40 adult and five junior).
The SBA has 37 Level 1, 34 Level 2 and Level 3, 9 essentials and 4 smash-up coaches, attracting ten new Level 1 coaches and 4 Level 2 coaches with grants.
Primary school curriculum and after-school sessions are focused in Ipswich currently but will develop in Bury in 2017 as part of a new badminton hub
The SBA also supported Special Olympics Suffolk in establishing a badminton club for players with learning disabilities, and 2017 will see the first regional tournament in Ipswich while two local players will participate in the National Special Olympics in Sheffield.
There are also regular junior and senior tournaments in the region with two full county teams and four Masters teams participating in ICC leagues with regular training and open day sessions.
SBA has supported and endorsed the development of the highly-rated Ipswich Badminton Performance Centre (IBPC) that attracts 60 players, while the SBA also operates Pay and Play sessions at three centres within the county, attracting on average 60 people, of all ages, per week.
Photo: Badminton Photo