Volunteers keen to build on success

Avon Badminton Association’s devoted volunteers say they are determined to build on the recognition they received at the recent Bristol Post Sports Awards.

An eye-watering 1,000 senior and 500 junior club members regularly take to the badminton courts under the umbrella of the association throughout North Somerset, Bristol, Bath and North East Somerset and South Gloucestershire, performing under the watchful and enthusiastic eye of 40-plus helpers and unpaid coaches.

Avon were shortlisted for ‘Community Club of the Year’ at the Bristol Post hand-outs and although they ultimately lost out to Longwell Green Junior Football Club at the prestigious Ashton Gate presentations, the acclaim they received did, in the words of long-serving Avon Badminton development officer Penny Shears, give her dedicated team a “welcome boost”.

She said: “Naturally it was disap- pointing not to win the award and if we’re able to give it another go next year we’ll happily do so.
“Nevertheless it was nice to be recognised in this way as badminton in our region is really thriving and it is very much a community activity enjoyed by men and women, boys and girls of all ages and abilities.

“Last year we ran three senior tournaments and three junior tournaments which attracted hundreds of players. And it’s all organised on a voluntary basis.

“We as an organisation look after 39 senior clubs and ten junior clubs and for the more competitive players we run three senior leagues – Mid Glos, Bristol and North Somerset – as well as an Avon Junior League, all of which provides 1,268 active members of Avon.”

Shears added: “There’s a big push to introduce more very young people into badminton which nationally is the most popular of the racket sports.

“Badminton England and Avon Badminton Association have recently teamed up with Bristol Sport Foundation and Community Badminton to raise the profile of badminton in Bristol, a priority area to get more young people and adults playing and joining clubs by creating a ‘hub’.
“Part of this project will involve taking badminton into local primary schools using Badminton England’s primary age-focused initiative called Racket Pack.

“Some of our junior teams have also been very successful. One of our Bristol representatives, St Ursula’s (Westbury-on-Trym), are national junior champions in the under-12 and under-16 age categories and Chew Valley were silver medallists at the same tournament at under-14 level.

“When it comes to the adult competitors, Avon – we have a first team competing in the Premier Division – are the only county to run six teams in the National Senior Championships which is a tremendous achievement.

“We also have multiple world and European Masters medallists which involve players from the age of 35 up to over 70 representing Avon, which just goes to show badminton in our area really is for everyone and path- ways are there to go on and repre- sent your county and even progress to international heights.”

Anyone wishing to get involved in badminton can get in touch with Shears by e-mailing her at: pennyshears@gmail.com; or by visiting the Avon Badminton Association website: www.avonba.co.uk

This article first appeared in the Independent. To get the latest articles when they appear, buy the print edition every Sunday or subscribe to our online edition HERE.