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We’re going to give 7,000 youngsters a World-class start, says Anne Smillie

WITH just two days to go until the start of the TOTAL BWF World Badminton Championships, BADMINTONscotland Chief Executive, Anne Smillie, has today explained how hosting a major global event presents a golden opportunity to develop the sport as never before.

Ms Smillie, who was also at the helm when Glasgow staged the Sudirman Cup team event and Individual World Championships in 1997 and the Sudirman Cup again in 2007, wants to get 30,000 more youngsters playing the game by 2020.

And BADMINTONscotland will go a long way to reaching that target when 7,000 youngsters pick up rackets during World Championship week at Glasgow’s Emirates Arena. Scotland’s possible stars of the future will be taking part in the national governing body’s renowned Big Hit Festivals, which are designed to provide a fun introduction to the sport and to show kids how exciting it can be.

While the best players in the world battle it out in the Emirates Arena from August 21-27, the budding stars will be in action in the adjacent Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome.

Anne is also determined that the youngsters won’t go home empty handed. They will be put through their paces by some of Scotland’s best coaches before having a chance to see some of the world’s best players in action and they will each be given something to make sure they have a day they will never forget.

“We aim to give every youngster a Yonex racket and a shuttlecock after they attend the Big Hit Festivals,” she said. “It’s all part of our Legacy and Development plan to get more and more children to take up our sport.”

Ms Smillie, who is also Tournament Director for the World Championships, knows what events like this can do to produce home-grown talent, with former Scotland stars Susan Egelstaff and Imogen Bankier shining examples after being inspired by seeing the big names in the flesh.

Ms Smillie explained why Scotland’s third World Championships can play a crucial part in the governing body’s ambitious development programme when she said: “These Championships and the media coverage they receive expose the sport to a much bigger audience than usual. This exposure, together with the Big Hit Festivals, attracts new players to the sport.

Each time we’ve had a major event in the past, new talents have emerged as a result. The legacy we are seeking is a broader base and a higher profile for the sport, more people playing and more media coverage. Badminton is a fantastic sport to play, but it is also a fantastic sport to watch and our pathway takes both these facts into account.”

President, Ian Campbell, added: “Attracting more youngsters to the sport is very important to us, not just to find superstars for the future, but also to keep our domestic club and tournament structures thriving.

“The atmosphere in a great arena like the Emirates will be fantastic and this is a huge motivational factor when you are trying to convince more youngsters to take up the sport.”

Councillor David McDonald, Depute Leader of Glasgow City Council and Chair of Glasgow Life, said: “Here in Glasgow, we understand the importance of introducing sport at an early age, and the positive impacts that can have on health and wellbeing.

“Major events are great for the city, and the TOTAL BWF Badminton World Championships will bring many visitors to Glasgow from across the world. However, it’s development programmes like these which ensure a lasting legacy for Glasgow and her people – and it’s something in which we are hugely proud to be involved.”

Paul Bush OBE, VisitScotland’s Director of Events, said: “Major international events provide the perfect stage for inspiring the next generation of players and the Big Hit Festivals are the ideal way for those inspired by the World Championships to give Badminton a go.

“EventScotland is delighted to be supporting The TOTAL BWF Badminton World Championships, which promises to be another fantastic event for Glasgow and will ensure we continue to build a legacy for Scotland as a major sporting events destination.”

The TOTAL BWF Badminton World Championships 2017 will be staged at Glasgow’s Emirates Arena from 21-27 August.

It is being delivered by BADMINTONscotland in partnership with Glasgow Life and Glasgow City Council and with funding support from EventScotland and The National Lottery through UK Sport.

Tickets available at www.glasgow2017.com/tickets