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How London Canary Wharf Badminton Club got back up and running

Many clubs up and down the country have been getting back into the swing of things with socially distanced badminton! We took some time to speak with Brian, lead coach from London Canary Wharf Badminton Club to hear more about how they’ve managed to get back up and running.  

How was your club impacted by lockdown and what did you do to keep your members engaged during this period? 

Firstly, I think it is important that everyone follows the advice and guidance provided by Badminton England. After the Government advised to avoid all non-essential social contacts in March, LCWBC immediately stopped all club sessions and training (seniors and juniors) - that is a total of 8 sessions every week! 

During lockdown, I ran several Zoom training sessions with our junior players to keep them engaged, along with running virtual social evenings (drinks and games) with our senior players. I also used social media (Facebook, YouTube and Twitter) to maintain a high level of engagement with members, with a focus on keeping badminton at the forefront of people’s minds to ensure that when the time was right, they were ready to return to badminton. 

One specific example was our YouTube video, created as part of Badminton England’s #BEathome campaign. This video involved some of our current and former players who are now back in their home countries. It was great fun creating the video, and can be found here: https://youtu.be/FJ_WzBESI2w 

How have you used the Badminton England tools available to members to help you get back to playing? 

Planning and communication were the two most important steps. After the initial news that badminton could return and Badminton England published their Return to Play guidance, I started an online survey with our members to understand their appetite and any concerns they may have. 

Along with this, I also shared the Badminton England Return to Play guidance with all members to ensure they familiarised themselves with the measures that would need to be introduced. This also helped to manage expectations of club members and prepare them for any changes they would experience at club sessions. 

I also created several videos and published these on our social media and YouTube channels to communicate with members about the new guidelines and reinforce key messages about returning to play. You can see our 'Return to Play' videos here https://youtu.be/C57VsDKXmgw  

Support from Badminton England (BE) has been excellent, and I would like to pay tribute to everyone involved. Thank you to Adrian Christy and the leadership team for their excellent leadership throughout this period and for doing a great job. 

Badminton England have been quick to react to Government guidance by way of regularly updating the specific BE Return to Play guidance, and there has been good and regular communication all the way through. There has been plenty of support and guidance available to help grassroots clubs like LCWBC to return to play safely. 

How easy did you find it to get back up and running again? 

A lot of our members have missed badminton a lot over the lockdown period, so it was relatively easy to get our club sessions running again and there was instantly an appetite from members to return. 

Our members also enjoy the session highlights that are now posted on our YouTube channel. Moving forwards, we plan to use our YouTube channel more to promote badminton and help with training. I would encourage everyone interested to subscribe to LCWBC YouTube channel (https://bit.ly/2Wt8oN7) and follow us on social media. 

I think the biggest issue about returning to play is the lack of indoor facilities which seems common nationally. Most schools and leisure centres are simply not ready for use yet. This is probably not their own fault as they do have issues to sort out and are bound by guidelines of their own national bodies.  

What has the feedback been like from your members about finally being back on court?  

Very positive! It is excellent to be back on court! Our members are overwhelmingly happy to be back playing badminton, but some players are understandably a bit rusty after months of lockdown. I think it is important that all of us in this sport follow the guidelines and do our bit to keep the badminton community safe. 

You can follow LCWBC on the following social media handles for more ideas.