Wednesday 22nd May 2024

The title of Badminton England’s ten-year strategy reads: ‘Badminton…A Sport for Everyone’. Its mission is to secure the best possible future for badminton in England by focussing on the needs of young people and by making the sport more open, accessible and inclusive.

And sometimes all it needs is a little help from those leading the way within our badminton communities across the country to help make this vision a reality.

Portland College is a specialist college for people with a wide range of disabilities and a Centre of Excellence for Autism, based in the heart of Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire. They believe everyone with disabilities should have a lifetime of opportunity. And with a little help from the local badminton association, badminton is helping them provide a safe and happy place that helps people to lead more independent and fulfilling lives.

Their badminton story begins with the Chair of Nottingham Badminton Association, Paul Adcock. Living locally to the College, in Mansfield, Paul has always had a passion for supporting people with disability, enriching their lives through sport to ensure the same sporting opportunities are accessible to everyone – a passion that stems from a career in social care, working with young adults with learning disabilities and more challenging needs.

Just before the pandemic, Paul contacted the College to kick start discussions around what a badminton session for different disabilities might look like and what the barriers were to setting up regular sessions at the facility.

Essentially, he wanted to know how the Nottingham Badminton Association could work with Portland to provide a badminton service to its users.

Although COVID-19 put a temporary halt to those early inroads, following positive engagement with the College they agreed to host three Open Days, funded by the county in the form of two qualified coaches and the necessary equipment to get an introductory badminton session off the ground for its users.

The Open Days took place six weeks part, to allow the participants to absorb the learnings from their events and let the users learn more about badminton, its rules, the equipment it is played with, where in the world it is popular and the benefits of the sport to the community.

Portland College then began fundraising for a badminton club to start up. And, before long, a badminton club was born.

Chair of Nottingham Badminton Association, Paul Adcock, said “We are very proud of our County’s contribution towards the establishment of a badminton cub at Portland College. The success is a reflection of the hard work put in by so many working together in partnership at local, county and subsequently national level. Portland College is a fabulous environment with a ‘can do’ attitude, admired by so many. The support provided by our Community Inclusion Champion coach, Mick Newton, has been outstanding.”


Badminton England chose Portland College to launch a new partnership with professional services group Gateley earlier this year. As part of the partnership, the organisation are supporting our Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Committee and will play an integral part in our safeguarding work, through thought leadership, sharing industry best practice and supporting individuals with EDI insight and expertise.

Inclusion is at the core of our recently-launched ten-year strategy for badminton in England and representatives from Gateley were at the College in person to reaffirm their commitment to our National Inclusion Champions programme, launched nearly two years ago now, and the delivery of an annual event which will rightly recognise and reward the extraordinary efforts of these volunteers.

Para-badminton athlete, Dan Bethell, said: “Para badminton is such an amazing sport and it’s great to see programmes like the one in place at Portland growing the sport. Badminton is a sport for everyone, it doesn’t matter if your disability means you use a wheelchair, or if you have dwarfism or if you have cerebral palsy like myself – there is a place for you in badminton. So to get people involved, ahead of the Paralympics in Paris this summer which I hope will serve to inspire others to take up the sport, is so important. And that is why it is rightly at the heart of Badminton England’s ten-year strategy.”

The new club and its growing group of participants along with ongoing fundraising endeavours now financially sustain the sessions, enabling our Inclusion Champions to coach weekly badminton sessions from the College.

The programme at Portland College has been user-led with the key aim of the club to make its users comfortable with the coaches primarily. However, with the programme steadily growing, there are long-term ambitions to see some of Portland College’s talented participants compete in competitions against other colleges playing badminton or even feature in the Special Olympics.

Andrew Gosling, Activities Lead/Coordinator for Portland College, said “Badminton has been an incredible addition to both our college and community programmes. Our learners, citizens and community members love taking part in the sessions and our community club is now established with a core group of players who contribute to a fun and friendly atmosphere every week. Badminton also regularly takes place across the college day in our sports sessions and excitingly it is also one of the main sports we showcase through ‘have a go’ activities at our ‘Portland Games’ events where, across two days, more than 18 schools and colleges come together at Portland to celebrate sports, activity and community.

“It has been amazing to see how accessible and inclusive badminton can be. Truly anyone can get involved, no matter what a person’s disability may be, there is always a place for you in badminton. The benefits to health and wellbeing can’t be understated. And we are hugely grateful to Paul Adcock and Nottinghamshire Badminton Association for supporting the introduction of badminton at Portland College – not to mention of course our Inclusion Champion Coach, Mick Newton, whose passion, energy and commitment to delivering inclusive badminton sessions at Portland is wonderful to see.”

If you would like to play a part and join our Inclusion Champions programme, if you would like to learn more about how you can be a role model amongst your community to champion, promote and advocate inclusion within the sport, you can find out more by access the resources available via our Inclusion hub.


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