Article by Kate Manning.
Nearly a whole year has passed since the London 2012 Olympic Games. We take a look at the future for badminton and whether or not there have already been signs of a successful legacy. Although nearly 365 days have passed with the Olympic Games feeling like a far-flung memory, there has been significant progress within the sport of badminton during this year.
With the London 2012 Games came one word which has remained associated with the post-Olympic period, and that is legacy.
Although the Olympic Village is now quiet and bare, there is life flowing through the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park as it is now known. The buzzword reverberates around the site and processes are in place to ensure the joy of the Games is not lost.
At BADMINTON England, there has been a conscious effort since the sporting extravaganza came to a close to guarantee that aspiring athletes are encouraged to pick up a racket and begin playing.
£22 million facility approved
With the approval of the new £22 million facility at The National Bowl to develop the National Badminton Centre earlier in April, it seems the only way is up for badminton in England.
Since last summer, there has been a 1,500 increase in affiliated membership of BADMINTON England. There has also been an impressive 100% increase in free, online membership of Club England Community which now reaches 75,000.
We were able to extend our investment into community badminton facilities to invest £1,725,276 into 15 projects, which attracted £25,513,602 of third party investment. This enabled us to build 37 new badminton courts, refurbish 57 courts as well as increase the number of court hours available to badminton, per week, by 620. This gave us over 2 million more hours of badminton as a direct result of the community use agreements.
There has also been a great demand to host BADMINTON England’s flagship ‘pay and play’ nationwide initiative, ‘No Strings Badminton’, in leisure facilities to cater for increased local desire for low cost community court time.
Since the closing ceremony in London last summer, more than 200 venues have come on board to deliver weekly sessions whilst the programme has also seen a 70% increase in weekly player numbers coming through the doors of facilities right across England.
The programme now boasts eight major leisure operators in the local delivery network alongside community trusts, education institutions, local authorities and independent leisure providers.
Interest to find out more about opportunities to enjoy local ‘No Strings Badminton’ sessions during the Games was also notable, with a 35% increase in online visits to the session finder on the website pre and post London 2012.
BADMINTON England has also seen success with the Center Parcs National Schools Badminton Championships. The programme has grown year on year for the last five years yet recorded its highest increase in entry numbers during an Olympic year as the number of Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 4 pupils swinging a racket in competition rose 33% to 32,500, making it the biggest school badminton competition in Europe.
In a recent report published by the Government and Mayor of London, ‘Inspired by 2012: The legacy from the London 2012 Olympic & Paralympic Games’, 1.4 million more people are playing sport at least once a week than in 2005 when the bid was won.
With this strong progress, it highlights just how popular the sport is and gives a clear indication as to where it is heading. This again emphasises how many ways there are to play badminton; whether you have just picked up a racket or play several times a week. Whether you are eight or eighty, there are numerous opportunities to get involved.
Exposure of badminton progressed extremely
The exposure of badminton has also progressed extremely well with increased media coverage, particularly focused on our major event portfolio with the London Grand Prix, in partnership with adidas and the Yonex All England Open being broadcast live on Sky.
BADMINTON England’s vision statement reads: “Consistently develop Olympic champions and get the nation playing badminton.”
The recent increase in BADMINTON England investment is certainly helping the organisation to achieve this vision. As well as this, there is the London Grand Prix event being held at the Copper Box Arena on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park from 1-6 October, 2013.
With raw and edgy presentation, the event will be part of the Badminton World Federation’s (BWF) Grand Prix Gold event series. This new event has also allowed us to secure influential commercial partners, who we are very much looking forward to working with in the coming years.
Many thought that the Olympic and Paralympic Games would have a minor effect once the crowds had dispersed and the flame was extinguished. However, it is only now, after one year, that we can look back and reflect on just how much of an effect it has had on the sporting landscape in the UK.
With an ever-increasing number of people of all ages stepping onto the badminton courts, the future is looking very bright as the legacy impact following the Games is highlighted.
We hope to continue this growth but our biggest concern is being able to meet the demands for court space and we look forward to working with the Government and local authorities to gain further access to community facilities such as school sports halls.
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Photo by BadmintonPhoto.