Former Badminton Europe President Tom Bacher was elected BEC Honorary Vice President alongside the 48th Annual Delegates’ Meeting last Saturday in Paris. Together with Torsten Berg, we look back on the career of Tom Bacher. A life full of badminton.
Copenhagen-born Tom Bacher was a well-known all-round player in Denmark and around the European scene in the 1960’s and early 1970’s when he played and won numerous International Championships titles, mostly in the men’s and mixed doubles category. His energy and sense for doubles tactics are legendary. The pinnacle of Tom’s distinguished playing career came in 1970, when, unseeded, he won the All England men’s doubles title, partnering Poul Petersen. Winning the first game 15 - 0 against the English favourites, the Danish radio commentator nearly lost his voice. Moreover, Tom Bacher played three times for his country in the Thomas Cup, winning the European Zone and reaching the Finals in 1967, 1970 and 1973.
Trained as an International Umpire as well as a coach, Tom Bacher has served the game on court since the 1960’s, on the highest level. Young champions like Anne Berglund, twice European Junior champion in the women’s singles and All England runner-up at the age of only 18 - until a serious back injury stopped her career, and Dorthe Kjær, European Champion in the women’s doubles in 1988 and 1990 with Nettie Nielsen owes Tom’s coaching a lot for their early achievements. Even more importantly, he has both umpired and refereed World Championships, and some will remember that he was in the chair in the dramatic deciding men’s doubles match of the 1967 Thomas Cup Final in Jakarta between the holder Indonesia and challenger Malaysia when the match and tie had to be interrupted by the referee Herbert Scheele due to riots in the stands, when the home team was in trouble.
Badminton Denmark, the then Danish Badminton Association, benefited from his all round experience and sound judgment, when he served as a Selector and Team Manager from 1973 – 1981, shortly after his playing career.
Already in those days, 1978, Tom Bacher joined Badminton Europe, then EBU for a short period, as Chairman of the Court Officials Committee of the European Badminton Union, as in 1979 Tom Bacher was elected to the BWF (then IBF) Council. Tom Bacher served BWF for 24 years, from 1979 – 2003 with distinction, from 1986 as a Vice-President.
In BWF, he contributed particularly to the business side of the game, as Chairman of the Open Badminton Committee which initiated and developed the international prize money events. The reform of the Thomas and Uber Cup in 1982, which greatly improved the attraction of this event and created the financial basis of the federation for a decade until Olympic income arrived, was the brainchild of a small Working Group with Tom Bacher, Arthur Jones and Roger Johansson, meeting in Tom’s garden over a weekend. The establishment and growth of the World Grand Prix – now developed into the Super Series was another major contribution from Tom and his Committee.
For 21 years, from 1982 to 2003, Tom Bacher was close to all international badminton decisions as a member of what is today known as the BWF Executive Board. Three Presidents used him as their Deputy. No wonder that many consider him as the best president BWF never had!
Luckily enough we got him as president of Badminton Europe Confederation! From 2004 to 2010 Tom Bacher was a very active President of Badminton Europe Confederation. In this capacity he very successfully turned the focus for our Continental Confederation towards a modern business-like approach to the game, with focus also on modern media, as you know BEC today.
Badminton Europe of 2015 is largely the result of the initiatives and the professional approach that was inspired and initiated by Tom Bacher and followed up by his staff and successors. With the young and dynamic office staff we have today, where many were selected and trained by Tom Bacher, we have built a commercial platform that has served the game in Europe very well.
Moreover, Tom Bacher ensured that the Council was rejuvenated in his period in office. Several of the BEC leaders we have today were talent-spotted by Tom and they now follow up the work he started, with added value of their own ideas, of course.
Last but not least, to his ever-lasting credit, Tom Bacher used all his experience in badminton and international sports politics when he and Badminton Europe under his direction played a major role as a strong support of BWF President Dr. Kang in his efforts to bring our game out of the very serious troubles that personal agendas of a few individuals had brought to badminton in the first decade of this century.
For these services to the game, and in particular to Badminton Europe, Tom Bacher was elected BEC Honorary Vice President by the 2015 Annual Delegates’ Meeting.
Photos by BadmintonPhoto. Article based on the laudatory speech by Torsten Berg.