Guernsey’s Badminton Development Officer is using some unique ways to attract new young players to the sports’ after school club.
Paulo Pinheiro has been in post for just over a year and as a Portuguese national decided to create some posters in his native language to try to encourage a broader range of children and young people to join the St Michael’s Junior Club.
The after-school club has replaced the previous ‘pay and play’ sessions with the aim of providing a more fun, family feel.
‘We thought that we would try this season to put them all together and instead of having a feeling of just drop your kids and pick them up sometimes the parents come along and play with their kids. It’s something that gives more of a feeling of belonging to a club and not just coming along and paying to play,’ said Paulo.
The St Michael’s Junior Club has been running for a few weeks now offering a fun experience of badminton for those aged between 6 and 16 at the Rohais Badminton Hall between 3.30 and 5.30pm every Tuesday and Thursday.
One of those who attends is 10-year-old Amherst pupil Victor.
‘I enjoy everything about coming to badminton,’ said Victor.
‘I like playing with kids from the other schools and would like to represent my school and the island one day.’
The club also aims to introduce young people to the facility at the Rohais which Paulo believes is a bit of a hidden secret. But most importantly, having fun is the main objective of the St Michael’s Club.
‘For me I think this is the basis – first we need to get the numbers in and then work on getting the quality out but never forgetting that it’s a space where kids can enjoy badminton,’ said Paulo.
‘They just want to play badminton. They don’t always want to train harder and compete, but they still have a space here where they can have fun and meet with their friends.’
Paulo says he’s not only looking for the playing stars of the future.
‘We are not just about competing. It is not always about having a great player in the future, we are hoping that the club might also encourage a good coach or a good referee, somebody who would like to be a member of the Board or volunteer to help out.’
The Sports Commission is delighted that the club is proving successful.
‘Inclusion is a real focus for the Commission in all of its work, so it’s great to see what Paulo has been doing,’ said Jeremy Frith, Performance Director for the Sports Commission.
‘We are particularly determined to ensure that all children are able to access and have a good experience of sport both in and out of school and after-school clubs are a great way of doing this.’
You can find out more about the St Michael’s after school club at http://badminton.org.gg/juniors/clubs/