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Premier League 4 Sport badminton teams renew footballing rivalries on court

Talented youngsters from the satellite badminton clubs attached to 11 of the country’s best supported football clubs will do battle in Milton Keynes this Saturday at the 2013 edition of the Premier League 4 Sport (PL4S) National Badminton Championships.

The tournament, which encourages around 100 children who are new to the sport to swing a racket for the first time in friendly competition, hit the ground running last season when Arsenal and Aston Villa took the bragging rights at the inaugural Championships with impressive showings also from teams in the colours of Wigan Athletic and Hull City.

Since the 2012 Championships, a number of young players have gone on to join affiliated Club England junior badminton clubs across the country, satellite clubs such as Black Arrows have become established and other players have made a name for themselves playing on the BADMINTON England junior circuits.

The 2013 Premier League 4 Sport National Badminton Championships, held at the home of Center Parcs – supported Team England and GB Badminton programme in Milton Keynes, will see 11 squads, including those representing Manchester United, Manchester City, and Arsenal scrap it out for titles in both boys and girls team categories.

In addition to the reigning, and former, Premier League champions, teams from Tottenham Hotspur, Fulham, Stoke City, Aston Villa, Newcastle United, West Brom and Wigan Athletic will also be ready to compete on a badminton court at the Championships.

Launched in 2009, Premier League 4 Sport is a joint venture between the Premier League, Sport England and the Youth Sport Trust and an additional £2m funding has been secured through the Sporting Chances programme, in partnership with the Department of Culture Media and Sport, to extend it out to August 2013 involving more clubs and more Olympic sports at grassroots level.

The programme has evolved to harness the power of Football League clubs and Portsmouth will be the first to be represented at the 2013 Championships as the spirit of Premier League 4 Sports gets rolled throughout the 4 top tiers of English football.

Badminton has been one of the flagship beneficiaries of the Premier League 4 Sport initiative, with football stars such as Arsenal's Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott, Tottenham legend Ledley King, Everton centre back Silvain Distin as well as Paul Scholes, Michael Carrick and Danny Welbeck from Manchester United all swinging rackets.

Nearly 10,000 young people across the country have been inspired to give badminton a try during the past two years and more than 80 new satellite badminton clubs, tied to the football clubs' community foundations, have been set up to cater for the increased demand.