Badminton: Youngsters take to programme

Badminton Otago development officer Jeff Elliotte helps Dunedin North Intermediate year 7 pupil Filippo Termignone practise his technique. Photo by Gregor Richardson.
Badminton Otago development officer Jeff Elliotte helps Dunedin North Intermediate year 7 pupil Filippo Termignone practise his technique. Photo by Gregor Richardson.
An initiative aimed at increasing the number of junior badminton players is being run in Dunedin.

"Racketeers" is a programme implemented by Badminton New Zealand. It replaces the Kiwisport programme and is aimed at school pupils with an emphasis on keeping them in the sport once they leave high school.

Badminton Otago development officer Jeff Elliotte said Badminton New Zealand, in consultation with education specialists and Physical Education New Zealand, had come up with a programme to fit in and around school curriculum.

The programme involves Elliotte and others going into schools around Dunedin and teaching the sport.

There are also three new clubs open after school hours, so those keen to take up the sport can do so.

"It is set up so if you are a child and want to play badminton then you can go to a club and be a member without being a pupil at that school."

Elliotte said he was "absolutely thrilled" with the response from the schools and the children.

"We started the initiative in term two and already the feedback we are getting is positive."

He said so far three schools were taking part and others in the region were expected to sign up in the coming weeks.

The three new clubs are at Balmacewen Intermediate, Dunedin North Intermediate and Kaikorai Valley College.

Elliotte said since Badminton Otago had set up the clubs, it has had about 60 extra children training after school.

In the past, Badminton Otago had had only two clubs in Dunedin.

Elliotte said people had started asking him why they were not getting into the schools to raise the profile of the sport.

He said because this programme was organised by Badminton New Zealand it "ticked all the boxes" when it came to getting the sport into schools.

In future the programme could be run by teachers. Elliotte said unlike past years, when there were no under-13 tournaments, this year there would be a South Island tournament in July and a national tournament later in the year.

Because of this, Badminton Otago has put in an extra effort in attracting 11 and 12-year-olds.

Long term, the aim of the programme is to get children into the sport at a young age and retain them when they become adults.

"We have got in-school coaching, after-school clubs and interschool tournaments in term three, so it's all forward from here," Elliotte said.