Just over two weeks remain until the start of the Big Hit, a week-long celebration of everything badminton that will run between September 13-17.
The Big Hit forms part of Badminton England’s ‘The Time is Now’ campaign, which focuses on encouraging members back onto court while showcasing the sport to potential new players, and highlighting the great work employed by clubs across the country in order to reopen in the wake of the pandemic.
During Big Hit Week, facilities up and down England will be opening their doors with access to a range of family events, outdoor badminton tournaments, social evenings, and even just the chance to hit a shuttlecock with a friend.
Whether you are new to the game, a former player who has been inspired to pick up a racket again, or a long-time fan who can help inspire a new generation, there are a range of opportunities for all to help grow the game.
And as the feast of activities draw ever closer, we’re taking a look at some of the reasons why you should get involved next month, with participants from various parts of the country offering an insight into their experiences.
This week, we’re taking a look at how clubs will be keeping you safe during the Big Hit week.
Anna Collis, a former England youth international star and founder of SMASHIT Sports, has been working hard to ensure her sessions are safe and welcoming since courts reopened.
“A lot of organisation has gone into it,” she said. “I do my lesson plans for every session anyway but back at the beginning, we were making sure everyone stayed in bubbles so that people felt like they weren’t mixing with the whole club.
“We took extra precautions with social distancing, and I had my double vaccination back in May. It is just about taking extra precautions and reassuring people. All the members have been so eager to get back.
“I think more people are just keen to get involved in the sport and try something new, particularly with children who have been less active over lockdown.
“We are a safe club so we’ll just keep doing what we’re doing during the Big Hit week, which we’re really looking forward to.
“Making sure everyone feels safe and comfortable is really important.”
The Blackburn Badminton League is preparing for a new season and dealing with the ‘new normal’ has become second nature to league secretary Claire Banfield, from Westholme BC.
“The Covid risk assessment on the Badminton England website was extremely useful to me and we followed it to the letter,” she said.
“Even when the restrictions eased, I kept to the suggested rule of a maximum of six players per court.
“We have undertaken loads of work to make courts a safe place to be as we don’t want players to lose any more time on court.”
The mixture of focusing on safety and enjoyment has also seen new players join the club, with Banfield particularly enthused by one of the arrivals.
“My best ‘find’ came one week I was two men short and I’d had word of an 18-year-old from Hong Kong, and his Dad,” she said.
“They have been in England six months having moved from Hong Kong and the boy played badminton five times a week at home and was really missing it.
“It was the best decision ever to invite them to my practice to fill in and I’ve already signed him on for next season!”
Banfield hopes the welcoming environment will see plenty more take to the court during the Big Hit week and further north, Newcastle Medicals club secretary Helen O’Donnell is also enjoying bringing new members into the fold.
“When restrictions eased, we had quite a few more members,” she said.
“It’s constant progress but with that community feel too.
“It’s inclusive and we’ve had quite a lot of people turning up as beginners and then playing for the teams.
“They’re doing really well, helping each other out, giving advice and it brings everyone together.”
If you would like to find your nearest place to play, contact email@example.com
Learn more about Badminton England’s ‘The Time is Now’ campaign here. If you are a club or coach looking for ideas on how to get involved with the Big Hit, visit the resource hub here.