Laura ‘Drops’ Into Barra

Last month Laura Muir returned to the isle of Barra to coach the juniors and adults for 3 days in the main village, Castlebay. This was Laura’s first visit since the pandemic.

During her previous visit, Laura had discovered a vibrant, enthusiastic badminton community, which had surprised her for such a small island of fewer than 1,300 residents.  The adults have continued to play and some of the U17/19 juniors, too.  However, she also met other new groups of younger players of varying ages and abilities from P4 to S6, plus some new adult players.

“It is challenging to plan ahead for many players you haven’t seen before, but I’m very experienced in coaching juniors. Once I had observed them all in their first sessions I was able to adapt plans to better suit their needs so they got the most out of me in the 3 days”.  Her priority was to establish good technique and correct grips with the beginners and to alter some habits of more experienced players.  All the adults enjoyed practising their backhand clears.

The Barra players are not afraid of competition and will travel for suitable events, albeit these require a lot of organisation, notice and funds due to  logistics.  They recently took part in the Western Isles tournament in Stornoway and came home with several items of silverware.  Their reward for a 3-day-round trip!

Unfortunately, the players were unable to make the Skye Championships the weekend following the coaching sessions due to ferry cancellations, except for Ben Denehy who was already in Fort William prior to the tournament.

The season is far from over! A group of their top players will travel, as part of Team Western Isles, to Frøya in Norway to compete in the Våryr International 2024 (8-14 May). This invite was sent to them following some discussions at the Island Games in Guernsey last summer, where rising stars Ben Denehy and Orla McGuire competed for Western Isles.

Laura has also linked Barra’s club up with the Glasgow Badminton Club (based at Glasgow Caledonian University, but not part of the uni) and plans are currently being discussed for Barra to host a “friendly” match in June, with the Glasgow-based players keen to test out their skills and also explore one of Scotland’s most beautiful islands.

Laura has left coaching plans for club coach, Paul McGuire, to continue and she aims to return in Autumn 2024 to further support their development.