Some thirty years ago, a young Bob Gilmour was instrumental in bringing his 1st division Ayr rugby team across to Islay after striking up a friendship with Kevin Campbell who was a member of the Islay rugby team.
About a year ago, Bob met up with Kevin again on a visit to Islay and they started talking about badminton which Kevin was also passionate about. Bob told Kevin about his connections with players in the international set up within Badminton Scotland and plans were then hatched for a coaching visit to Islay, something which would be a completely new experience for the island.
After a few attempts to find a suitable date, on 22 March, Bob Gilmour and Colin Campbell accompanied by former Scottish National squad players, Angus Gilmour, Martin and Michael Campbell made the crossing from Kennacraig to Port Askaig.
Unfortunately, due to the cancellation of the earlier ferry from Kennacraig, the planned afternoon session with the pupils at Bowmore High School had to be cancelled and instead those pupils who were able to attend joined in the session for the adults at the Bowmore Badminton Club on Friday evening.
The session was kicked off by Angus, Martin and Michael demonstrating some of the routines they performed when they were in full time training. I think that it is fair to say that the Islay club were impressed by the speed and power of what they witnessed!
Following on from that, Angus, Martin, Michael and Colin took the group for a coaching session consisting of some technique work, finishing off with some match play with the coaches.
We then presented the players with various gifts which had been donated by international players (past and present), Badminton Scotland and Gannon Sports. These gifts were greatly appreciated by the Islay players and we are extremely grateful to all involved for providing the donations.
We would like to express our sincere thanks to Ardbeg and Lagavulin distilleries for their generosity in supporting this coaching event. We were all quite overwhelmed with the warmth of the welcome and kindness of our Islay hosts and in particular to Kevin who made all the arrangements and provided memorable entertainment for us on Saturday evening. Smudger’s singing will live long in the memory!
I think that this once again demonstrates the power of our sport to create new friendships and to cement existing ones.
We fervently hope that what the Islay club saw and learnt during the session will help both to increase the popularity of badminton within the island and also enable their players to improve their skills and thus derive even greater enjoyment from the sport.
Suffice to say, discussions are already in place about planning another coaching trip to Islay next year!
Report and images courtesy of Colin Campbell