Imogen Bankier coaching Anne Tran/Emilie Lefel (Credit: Badminton Photo)
Imogen Bankier: "It's easier to be on the other side"
Date: 3/12/2019 3:08 PM
Published by : Annika Langrock
Change of perspective: The former top player, Imogen Bankier, is working as a coach for the French Badminton Association today.

In the latest issue of the BEC Magazine, the Scot spoke to Badminton Europe about her job skills, the Doubles situation in France and the Olympic Games 2024 in Paris. 

A lot of people might recognise Imogen Bankier from performing on court. Today, the 31-year-old is still doing that, but instead of receiving instructions, she is giving them.

New job in Paris 

Since 2018, the former Scottish Mixed Doubles player is working as a Doubles coach for Team France. 

"I am a consultant, I am working one and a half days a week. We are a team of five coaches, Team France does not have a head coach as such right now. I am part-time employed, but the rest is working full-time", Bankier said.

Imogen Bankier was born in Glasgow and practised badminton for the first time as a nine-year-old in the garden. In 2005, she began to play badminton at a professional level. At the end of 2014, Bankier officially finished her badminton career and began to work in the Whiskey Industry. Today, she is the director of a Whiskey shop in Paris.
"I took a complete break from badminton for four years, after I ended my career. I was neither playing, nor looking at results. I could focus on other things in my life and I got another perspective on the game and the vision of badminton, as well as the emotional and mental side of it", the Scot said.

A successful career on court

In May 2018, Bankier began to work as a consultant for the French Badminton Association, as she was and still is living in France. Since then, the Scot got a new perspective towards the sport of badminton. 

"To be on the other side is different, it is easier. As a coach, you are sitting in a chair, but you also have to have empathy for the players in their individual situation. You have to communicate with them in a way that is necessary, so that they perform well. That is the joy of being a coach: it is a communications job", Bankier said. 

"I was not ready to make the transition from player to coach directly. I needed the break and the perspective, and now I am back with fresh eyes. I am also more mature as a person", 31-year-old added.

Bankier was the runner-up at the World Championships in Mixed Doubles in 2011, which was one of the biggest successes in her career as a player.

"I have never seen such a young group of people that is so open-minded and ambitious"

Together with her English partner, Chris Adcock, she also won Bronze at the European Championships 2012, and in 2014, she won Bronze at the Commonwealth Games with her Scottish partner, Robert Blair. 

"I think it is hard to relate my personal experience to other players, because every player is different. I was very lucky with my partners in the past, but my game style is quite different", Bankier said. 

"To be in the world class or top class in Europe, players need to have a set of skills. I see players in France that have a set of tools, but they need to learn how to use them", the former top player added. 

"I see a lot of potential, but it is a long journey to achieve consistently top-class results. But the French players are very willing to learn, I have never seen such a young group of people that are so open-minded and ambitious". 

In 2018, the European Junior Championships, as well as Team Championships took place in Tallinn, Estonia. The most successful team of both events was France. The French Junior players achieved the most titles at the individual event, they won Gold in Men’s and Mixed Doubles, as well as Men’s Singles and won also the team event. Denmark was the runner-up of the team competition.  

"It is exciting for me to be part of Badminton France, especially from a Doubles and Mixed point of view. The Doubles situation in France looks promising, especially with the development of Junior players challenging the Senior players", Bankier said. 

"We have quite a large group of Double players, which is the biggest group for several years now. We also have a good mix of personalities and ages", she added.

"France has the potential to be one of the leading badminton countries in Europe"

Around 66 million people are living in France. The sport of badminton is developing in the country. In September 2018, the French Badminton Association registered around 188.000 active players, who are practising badminton at official clubs. 

"We have a strong federation and good government support. A lot of people in France are playing badminton – not as much as compared to Denmark – but still, a lot", Bankier said. 

"Maybe, we are the second biggest badminton country in Europe, we are definitely in the Top 3 or 5. I think that France has the potential to be one of the leading badminton countries in Europe", the Scot added.

Imogen Bankier has a lot of experience on court, she was part of Team Great Britain for more than eight years. During that time, she won 19 European Circuits and three BWF Grand Prix tournaments. 

"I developed a unique skill set to become very strong, I hit my weaknesses. If people looked at me on paper, they would have said: ‘She is not very strong, she is not fast’, or whatever. But I managed to hide that, because I had other things that I was good at, for example servings, reading the game or being creative. I was also mentally strong", Bankier said.

"I can teach mental strength"

As a former player, Bankier has a special way of adapting her skills, as well as her style of play to her job as a coach for Team France. 

"The French Badminton Association sees that I can bring something in. I can teach mental strength and I am one of the first female coaches in a long time, which brings a new dynamic to the coaching team", Bankier said. 

In 2012, Bankier participated at the Olympic Games in London. Twelve years later, the Scot could experience her second Olympic Games – but this time from another side of the court.  

"The Olympic Games 2024 will be hosted in Paris. It is always a big deal to have this special event at home. When I participated in the Olympic Games, it was so exciting. It is a big motivation for players", the former Olympian said. 

Read the BEC Magazine here 
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