On Friday, 5th August, 2016 the Canterbury Para-badminton Group officially launched at Kings School Recreation Centre in Canterbury. To celebrate their official launch Team England Para-badminton stars Martin Rooke and James Binnie supported by giving a demonstration and sharing some useful tips with the players.
The group initially formed in January 2016 and consisted of just wheelchair players but is now open to any players with physical disabilities. Lesley Uphill a Level 3 badminton coach saw a need to support those with a disability to play badminton in the South East and went about setting up the sessions. She has worked closely with the Kings Recreation Centre to establish the settings, with them even installing electric doors to improve the accessibility to the building.
The group has been a great success with many commenting that they feel like they have been on a journey together. There is a variety of experience within the group enabling them to find the challenge they need to help improve their game. Some players are now attending other sessions that Lesley runs and even competing in tournaments around the UK.
One of the players Lawrence Blomfield, has highlighted that Lesley is very much at the helm of the group and it is her talent and support as a coach that makes the group so successful. ‘She breaks the components of the game down into easily digested chunks. Her sessions, teach technique and tactics, and reinforce new points well through enjoyable and challenging exercises. After a relatively short period in the game I already feel I know a lot more, and this improves the playing experience.’
With the ongoing support of Lesley we are now seeing the development of new coaches, with one of the players, Rachel Bowen recently completing her Level 1 Assistant badminton coach qualification. Rachel has found that playing with a diverse and supportive para-badminton group has encouraged her to stay active and provided a forum to develop skills and confidence, something which at times she found challenging within able bodied groups.
Lesley plans to continue to grow the para-badminton club by setting up a new session and making links with other para-badminton groups around the country to organise friendly matches.