By RJ Mitchell
INGO KINDERVATER is determined that the Scottish team will make the most of home advantage when Group 4 of the European Mixed Team Championships qualifiers gets underway at the National Badminton Academy, Scotstoun, on December 15.
The Scots placed fifth two years back in Vantaa, Finland, and Badminton Scotland’s Head of Performance along with coaching colleagues David Gilmour and Robert Blair has picked a 17-strong squad which will be utilised over the two Subgroup One matches against Luxembourg and the Czech Republic.
Should they prevail, Scotland will meet the winner from Subgroup Two which comprises of Ireland, Portugal, and Sweden on a Sunday high-noon shoot-out.
With no Scottish Open held this year, the hope is that a vociferous home crowd will get behind the players as they enjoy the opportunity to see our finest in European action and Kindervater was in no mood to play down the importance of qualification for next year’s finals in Aire-sur-la-Lys, France.
He said: “It’s the European Championships and we are super keen on qualifying. We have taken pride that in team competition we can really challenge other countries at European level with our best players.
“But as a team it is nice proof of the overall development of Scottish Badminton and the system we have around our senior squad players to do this successfully.
“We came fifth when this event was held last time and it is important for us to be competitive in Europe and constantly qualify for the final stages and then when we are there to challenge for medals.
“But one step at a time and we are taking the qualification event very seriously. We try to be confident with our overall development but we know there is very tough competition at the qualification stage.
“So we look forward to the matches and we hope that home advantage will get us over the line.”
The 43-year-old was appointed Head of Performance for Badminton Scotland in May 2019 and having won Germany’s first ever gold medal in the European Mixed Team Championships in 2013 Kindervater knows all about the importance of a partisan home crowd getting behind their favourites.
He continued: “It’s super nice to have this event taking place in Scotland, particularly with the Scottish Open not being held and I hope people that don’t see our players live as often as they would like to do will be excited about this opportunity to take in our players in live match action.
“Also for our players playing in front of their friends and family at Scotstoun and trying to qualify for a European Championship is a super nice thing.
“All the guys are developing really well in international badminton and we have a lot of players making great progress in the world rankings and for us to have them performing on the international stage at home in Scotland is something we are all looking forward to.
“Our players have a very strong team bond and they look forward to team events a lot, badminton is a funny one as we practise together as a team every day, then in most tournaments it’s on an individual basis where players compete for themselves.
“So an event where a strong team like ours gets to compete as a team together gives us extra energy and then being able to do that in front of friends and family with that extra connection with the home fans will be of advantage.
“Also in the last two years we had really strong performances in the Scottish Open with the Grimley twins winning and the year before Alex Dunn and Adam Hall winning, so that surely will be of benefit.”
During his glittering playing career as a doubles specialist the German reached a career high of No.11 in the BWF rankings, he was also a bronze medallist at the Europeans in 2008 and 2010 while he played at the London Olympics, 2012.
Badminton Scotland’s Head of Performance was also keen to explain how selection to the 17-player squad was made and indeed how it will be whittled down to provide a match-day team of eight to fulfil a men’s singles, ladies’ singles, mixed doubles, men’s doubles, and ladies’ doubles.
He explained: “This tournament gave us the opportunity to be more inclusive than we would usually be for an event like this. That is because it is the type of event that doesn’t give us strict restrictions on overall numbers.
“Also the fact we are holding it in Scotland means we don’t have travel costs. So we have selected a big squad to reward some players for big performances but also for application in training. It is a home event and so we wanted to give it a real team feel by going with a larger squad.
“This is basically the squad we will go into the overall event with and on the day we will select the team, so it is a maximum of four guys and four girls and we will select according to the opponents.
“From Badminton Scotland’s side it’s just great to have this event at home and even more so with the Scottish Open not taking place this year.”
Scotland will open against Luxembourg at around 5pm on Thursday, December 15th, before meeting the Czech Republic at 2pm on Saturday, December 17th and hopefully progressing to meet the winners of Subgroup Two on Sunday in a winner takes all finals denouement which has a 10am scheduled start.
As he assessed the group opposition Kindervater was keen to show our rivals maximum respect: “We open against Luxembourg and I feel like we are going into that one as clear favourites but we will be doing due diligence and making sure we treat them with respect, so our selection will be to have a team we trust in winning,” said Kindervater.
He continued: “Also if there is a chance to spread the matches out between our players we will make the most of that.
“On Saturday we have the Czech Republic and on paper it looks like the Czech Republic are our toughest group opponents as in European tournaments they have a stronger representation than Luxembourg players so that would back this up.
“In the men’s singles Jan Louda, has had some very good results but also, they have had some good wins in the men’s doubles, and I have seen this at tournaments which I have been present at.
“They also have strong female players so overall they are a good team, and we won’t be underestimating them in any of the matches.
“If we come through our group then we have the winner of Subgroup B which includes Sweden, Portugal, and Ireland. I would say that probably the favourites in that group on paper are either Ireland or Sweden but if we get through and it’s Portugal who awaits us, again, we will treat them with total respect.”
The Scotland squad is:
- Men’s Doubles: Adam Hall and Alex Dunn; Chris Grimley and Matt Grimley; Jack Macgregor and Adam Pringle.
- Women’s Doubles: Julie MacPherson, Ciara Torrance, Eleanor O’Donnell, Rachel Andrew, Sarah Sidebottom.
- Women’s Singles: Kirsty Gilmour, Rachel Sugden, Lauren Middleton.
- Men’s Singles: Callum Smith, James Robertson, Danny Robson.
- Mixed Doubles selection will be from the above players.
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