It’s been a busy start to the year for the Scottish National squad and the team have just returned from a run of international tournaments.
Following a long training block the squad are on top form and have shown the world what Scotland is capable of – challenging world class players on an international stage – and have come home with plenty to be proud of.
These top performances are something which Jan Ø. Jørgensen is confident we will be seeing more of in the coming months.
His appointment as Consultant Coach to the Scottish National squad six months ago marked a significant shakeup to the team’s coaching structure ahead of the Commonwealth Games, but Jan Ø. Jørgensen is positive that the Scottish coaching environment is nothing less than world-class and has been impressed by the team he has joined.
“The programme is really high level” commented Jørgensen “the support team and everyone around is really professional and there is so much knowledge involved in these players getting better. The opportunities you have here [in Scotland] as a player are more or less world-class.”
Jørgensen primarily supports the team remotely from his home in Germany, however, he regularly travels to Glasgow where he coaches the singles players. “They’ve all been really open minded” he said, commending the coaching team and players on their attitudes. “I feel a lot of eagerness to learn so it’s been really easy for me to come in with new ideas”.
He notes that he’s been more focussed on inspiring the players to come up with new ways of thinking than on changing their programmes but credits Head Coach Ingo Kindervater’s leadership style on being open and encouraging a culture of knowledge sharing.
The former world number two hails from Denmark, a country similarly sized to Scotland with a reputation for producing world-class badminton players. The key to Denmark’s success is a hotly debated topic in badminton circles: how can such a small country produce so many world class players? The answer seems to lie in the country’s club system.
“Denmark has a pretty special club culture” said Jørgensen “even though it’s a small country, we have this really special culture of playing badminton.” In Denmark, badminton halls are purpose built and clubs are more than just a place to play badminton, they form a huge part of community life.
“We can come to the local club, see the older players play and stay in the club for the whole day” said former world number one and fellow Dane, Camilla Martin in a recent BWF Badminton Unlimited short film.
Denmark also has a strong links between the performance centres and the clubs, with the ‘club team league’ forming a system through which players of all ages and levels can participate in regional team competitions. At the top level of the club league is the prestigious ‘Final 4’ in which the top four professional teams compete to be crowned Danish Team Champion, something which is taken very seriously by Denmark’s elite players.
And it was these team matches which led to Jan joining the Scottish coaching team “Kirsty Gilmour is in the same club as I am in Denmark, playing team matches, and Ingo went along to the club and we just got talking, a little bit by coincidence really!”
“My ambition here is to help the team to keep building world class players. Kirsty is already doing this, she’s already top 20, so we can see it is possible, but it’s definitely our ambition to keep improving and keep trying to be world-class
“The training and culture here is really good compared to what I was expecting – Scotland is a small country badminton wise. The work that’s going on here is at such a high level but the talent, when it comes in, is pretty rare so you’ve really got to nurse it.
“I think that all the thinking in here can evolve into the smaller cities and places in Scotland and hopefully more and more people will come through.
“This is something that Ingo, David, Bob and the coaching team are really trying to change – to get young players in earlier, so it’s an exciting time to be coming in.”
The Scottish National squad are back on home turf for a couple weeks to prepare for the European Championships which are taking place at the end of the month in Madrid.
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