It’s been a busy start to the year for many and the north of Scotland is no exception. We caught up with Jane Grant, Regional Development Officer for the Highlands and Islands, on the breadth of badminton being delivered across her area.
Jane is just back from a trip to Shetland, as part of her region – an area covering over 500 miles – where she has been visiting clubs and catching up with the associations to discuss further development and challenges.
“The highlands may be a very large area and geography may be a regular topic of conversation but there is still a sense of community around the various badminton venues!” commented Jane when discussing the success of the sport in her area.
“There may be many miles of road, sea and hills between the clubs but thanks to social media, clubs are even better connected.
“This connection is clearly evident through both good and bad times. During events, such as inter county, club leagues or ladders, competition is fierce on the court. Away from the courts, there is a strong bond between players and organisers often offering support and reassurance when times are hard.”
Shetland has a thriving badminton community, with recreational and social clubs running throughout the Isles and development squad sessions for juniors and seniors running weekly. Shetland Badminton Association try hard to ensure that development squads are as accessible for as many players as possible by rotating the location of sessions around the island.
Participation badminton in Shetland is increasing steadily – the Pay and Play sessions in the Clickimin Sports Complex in Lerwick has seen a rapid growth in numbers. This of course, comes along with its own challenges, for both the Leisure Complex and Shetland Association to accommodate all these players. The Association is working hard to ensure there are sessions available to all, regardless of age or ability. They are working closely with Active Schools as well the Community Sports Hub Officer to recruit more volunteers and upskill their coaches.
Competition is high on the agenda across the whole of Jane’s region; the Highland Badminton Group U17/14 Junior Championships took place last weekend and the Yell Senior Badminton Championships have just concluded. Entry forms are available for the Caithness Open and the Skye Championships in March.
As well as Junior and Senior Inter Counties, there are also local leagues and competitions running regularly across Skye, Orkney, Shetland and Caithness.
There is currently a huge demand for friendlies, with Barra, East Sutherland, Nairn, and the newly formed Great Glen Club leading the charge! Following on from the leagues held in Inverness during lockdown, there is a doubles ladder at the planning stage, hopefully starting at the end of April.
Para-sport opportunities in the Highlands and Islands are increasing following the Highland’s first parasport festival in December – Shetland have just run their first para-sports competition, the Shetland Schools’ Badminton Festival, ahead of their Parasport festival running in March and Orkney are following suit with their first Parasport festival happening on the same weekend.
As you can see, there’s a huge amount happening across the Highlands and Islands, and this is just the tip of the iceberg!
Jane heads to Uist, in the Western Isles at the end of the month to deliver some festivals to school children and visit another club or two! Very little of this would be possible if it wasn’t for the support of the volunteers in the clubs, active schools, community sports hubs and local facility staff, a real team effort.
There’s plenty to look forward to over the coming months so make sure to stay up to date with news, events and tournaments by following Highland Badminton Group and Badminton Highland on Facebook.
Photo: Jane Grant at Shetland’s new club, Nesting Badminton Club