Part of the rationale for staging any major event is to deliver a legacy for the sport involved. At the forefront of BADMINTONScotland’s hosting of the TOTAL BWF 2017 World Championships in Glasgow in August of this year is a comprehensive and ambitious legacy plan that drives beyond the Championships to 2020. Anne Smillie, BADMINTONScotland’s Chief Executive explains the key legacy objectives she has around participation, education and volunteering. ‘Firstly, we want to deliver a participation legacy that inspires children and adults to become more physically active through playing badminton. Secondly, we want to deliver a world-leading education legacy that uses the 2017 Badminton World Championships as a platform to promote innovative practice. Finally, we want to implement a volunteer legacy to recruit, train and engage with volunteers before, during and beyond the 2017 Badminton World Championships, with the ultimate aim of supporting clubs, groups and event providers to strengthen their infrastructure and increase their capacity.’
The objectives can be simple to state, but it can often be harder to understand how they will be seen in reality. I asked Anne what the tangible outputs of the participation legacy would be. ‘We have developed the concept of ‘Community Participation Clubs’ to encourage local authority centres to offer organised badminton sessions for those people for whom a formal club system does not meet their needs. This is already proving successful, with 31 of the 32 local authorities pledging support and we are in the process of engaging with them further.’
It’s a great initiative, but there’s also an argument that you don’t need to stage a major event to establish such a participation idea. Anne responds, ‘of course, these ideas don’t need a World Championships to bring them about. But you must remember that we are a small governing body, with limited resource. We may have a great idea, but we need resource to turn that idea into a reality. This is what the staging of the likes of a World Championships brings – the ability to fund additional resource to enable you take ideas, build them out, launch and implement them. The World Championships has enabled us to bring on additional staff in key areas that ensures a strong legacy from this event is delivered.’
Awareness of the sport of badminton has been driven amongst children in Scotland off the back of the World Championships. ‘We launched a primary school ‘design-a-mascot’ competition to find the official 2017 mascot. We had over 2000 entries from across Scotland, which is absolutely fantastic. This has worked well to raise awareness of the sport and of the World Championships amongst school children in Scotland.’ Translating that awareness into children picking up a racket and stepping onto court can be a harder challenge. BADMINTONScotland has also worked to address this. ‘We have developed an innovative concept of festivals that will be offered throughout Scotland. These are called #BigHit festivals. We are working with secondary schools to deliver a new six-hour young leader training day.
The secondary schools will then organise a primary school #BigHit festival that the young leaders will run. We will deliver a parallel primary teacher CPD (Continuing Professional Development) session during the festival. In addition, we are liaising with local colleges and universities to offer mentoring and facilitation training which will enable them to deliver the young leader training, and to oversee the #BigHit festivals and act as mentors for the young leaders.’
Anne is keen to point to the participation of children in badminton at the World Championships itself as well.
‘BADMINTONscotland runs a series of ‘carnivals’ in tandem with its major events. These have provided an opportunity for tens of thousands of children over the years to gain a fun and exciting introduction to the sport, to see it played at the very top level and to meet some of its top stars. Introducing these children to the sport and inspiring them is an important part of the legacy. We will be running these carnivals at the World Championships once again, introducing thousands more children to the sport.’
From an educational legacy standpoint, in conjunction with the #BigHit festivals, BADMINTONScotland has written a new resource (on which the CPD will be based) which will be available as a free download or to purchase as a hard copy. ‘We expect to engage with over 500 college/university students; 800 young leaders; 25000 primary children and 1500 teachers through this Big Hit programme.’ Scottish coaches will also benefit from the World Coaching Conference organized in conjunction with the BWF which will take place during the Championships. ‘We aim to attract 120 coaches, with at least 50 from Scotland.’
Volunteering is the final legacy objective and BADMINTONScotland has written a club support pack and developed a support training session to assist new clubs and help develop and support existing clubs. Anne explains ‘So much of the badminton community and the sport of badminton throughout Scotland relies on volunteers giving freely of their time for a sport that they love and enjoy. We would be lost without our volunteers. But these volunteers need our help, guidance and support to run and develop new and existing clubs across Scotland. This is why we have created this support pack’.
Anne has been a long-term believer in the power of staging major events for the benefit of badminton and firmly believes the World Championships will deliver on this front. ‘It’s imperative that you use the staging of these major events to deliver investment into a better future for the sport. If you only gain from the days of the event itself, you haven’t maximized the opportunity and you’ve failed in one of your key objectives in bidding for the event in the first place. But I am confident that with the 2017 World Individual Championships, we are grabbing every opportunity we can for long term gain in the sport.’
Get ready for this years Scottish Open grand prix
This August, the fastest racquet sport takes over the Emirates Arena for 7 days.