The wait for the 2019 Scottish Open is almost over, with players, officials, volunteers and fans all poised for what promises to be a fascinating four days of action at Glasgow’s Emirates Arena.
And this year’s event looks set to be one of the biggest and most star-studded yet, attracting a range of world-class talent from both Scotland and beyond to come and compete at the world’s third oldest badminton tournament.
A whole host of international medallists are set to duke it out at the impressive venue between November 21-24, entertaining the hordes of spectators who will travel in their numbers to roar on the home contingent under the Emirates lights.
The decorated likes of Adam Hall, Alex Dunn and Julie MacPherson will all descend on Glasgow this week, preparing to compete with some of the world’s most prestigious players and bidding to indelibly write their name into Scottish Badminton folklore.
But while it’s the home stars who will elicit the loudest cheers from the crowd, the event could not take place without the tireless work of the competition’s volunteers, who represent the unseen life and soul of the tournament and facilitate such scintillating antics on court.
And Pamela Muirhead, who is the team leader in the player services department and has been a volunteer at the Scottish Open for over 20 years, knows exactly what makes the event so special.
“I’m so excited to be here – I’m back around my friends and back into this organisational setting and am really excited to see some badminton this week,” the volunteering veteran said.
“Every year it just gets better and it’s just nice to come back into this environment and keep seeing the people I only see once a year – that’s very much what keeps drawing me back.
“The tournament is so well-organised and the volunteers are all so friendly and willing to give up their time to run such a fantastic event – the players love it and we keep coming back because of that.
“It’s really, really nice being able to catch up with people – I keep coming back and I’ve got no intention of going anywhere just yet!”
The volunteering team is a broad operation, however, spanning multiple areas including logistics, accreditation and taking care of spectators.
And Charlie Proctor represents the team leader of the spectator services department, volunteering since 2013 and eager to get going once again on the eve of the famous 112-year-old event.
“It’s wonderful – the event brings me back to friends I’ve known for years and there’s great camaraderie, and we always see a very high standard of badminton,” he said.
“The Scottish Open has built up for years now – it’s had a big name and people like to come back and play in such a good arena like the Emirates, which has everything at hand.”
A big name indeed. Of course, it remains the high calibre of players on display that make the event so special, a cosmopolitan blend of international talent including Lakshya Sen, Yvonne Li, Delphine Delrue and Lea Palermo who are all vying to be crowned 2019 champion.
But the competition also features some of the sport’s most promising young Scottish talent, not least the precocious Grimley brothers – Matthew and Christopher – who originally hail from Glasgow and are raring to go in front of a raucous home crowd.
“I’m really excited – it’s always good to have the home crowd and we get a lot of good support, and it’s the home fans, family and friends that make it so special,” Matthew said.
“If we were to win here it would mean a lot, especially in front of our family and friends – our parents are coming to support us, and it would mean everything.”
The youthful duo are also indebted to the work of their coaches, however, who work so hard to nurture young talent to blossom and compete at such a high-profile event.
And look no further than Robert Blair, a 2006 World Championship silver medallist who now oversees the development of the Scottish team and can’t wait to see them thrive over a pulsating four days of action.
“It’s always a great week for us – the players are really looking forward to coming and playing in front of a home crowd and it’s always a really good atmosphere in a world-class arena,” the 38-year-old said.
“Hopefully our players can perform well and get some good results – if we have a good week, get a bit of luck and people are playing well then hopefully we can see some Scottish names at the top of the list!”