Since badminton has been able to return in line with Government guidelines and restrictions in July, we’ve been working to bring as many of you back as quickly and as safely as possible.
A large part of this work has been focused around gathering feedback from players, coaches and volunteers all around the country to understand the challenges that you face and how we can best support you through these times.
For us, publishing informative and comprehensive guidance has been only the start of the work that we have been doing across the business. Following your feedback, we’ve seen the overwhelming challenge with venue availability that so many of you have faced with returning to play. The guidance is there, players are raring to go, but the lack of available hall space has been a devastating set back for so many.
So how can we help this?
Whilst we are unable to force the opening of hall space with leisure providers, many of which have been repurposed for socially distanced gym activity, we have been able to leverage our influence in different ways. We have put our plight in the spotlight through national news coverage and continue to regularly lobby to Government about the financial support needed to save the leisure industry.
We set ourselves the task of understanding what the facilities landscape looks like and therefore how we can best help you return.
Our facilities mapping project is a business wide effort headed up by our Senior Relationship Manager, Lee Ward. Every time you fill in our facilities form to let us know if your courts are open, a dedicated member of staff will respond thanking you for sharing the information and will review it against our database. The review includes an in-depth follow up with the venue to understand their ability to accept new clubs and sessions. The database then feeds all of this into our activity finder, allowing countless players across the country to search for available court time near them. This database also drives our national heatmap – closed or open, we’ve started to build a picture of the scale of the challenge facing the badminton community.
We’ve overlaid this information with what we know about our clubs and as a result have been able to help clubs get back on court with suggesting alternative locations. With an option in the facilities form to let us know if clubs require additional support, we can also track who needs help and can pass the query on to the person in the business best fit to support. This remains a monumental challenge, however. As this is written, we currently believe only 40% of venues are open for badminton with 60% remaining closed. The opening of school facilities to local community groups in particular is proving to be a wide scale challenge, so we are working with school facility management companies to support this further.
‘We are acutely aware of the challenge a huge proportion of the badminton community are facing in finding available facilities to support their return to play and are doing all we can to support and improve this situation. From lobbying Government to help venues provide a greater variety of activity to proactively contacting venues direct to see how we can support a quicker reopening of their courts. We have looked to leverage our local and national partnerships to better understand where our support is most needed and, where possible, find alternative venues for those that require them. We want to thank those venues that have supported a return to play by reopening their courts and those within the badminton community that have contacted us to update us on their situation. We encourage others to do the same through our feedback form and will continue to work as hard as we can to support a safe return to play for all.’
Lee Ward, Senior Relationship Manager and Project Lead – Badminton England
Your feedback is vital for this work to continue and for badminton to get back to it’s best. So what’s next? Our activity finder is currently being updated to reflect the information you’ve told us and you’ll shortly be able to search for open and available facilities that we know of. We remain dedicated to supporting you as much as possible and look forward to sharing more updates with you soon on our dedicated facilities updates page.