Badminton clubs’ battle to keep hold of talented kids

Like many sports organisations in the Borders, Hawick Badminton Club is bearing the brunt as young people leave the area to find work.

The club, based currently at Wilton Church Hall, has a proud history in Borders badminton. At its height, the club was able to put six teams into the several local leagues.

Hawick Badminton Club's Harry Turnbull (front) with, from left, Laura Douglas, Laura Turnbull, Bert Robertson and Scott Elliot.

Hawick Badminton Club's Harry Turnbull (front) with, from left, Laura Douglas, Laura Turnbull, Bert Robertson and Scott Elliot.

Now, there is just one league with four clubs – Hawick, Jedburgh, Berwick and Duns – and all four face a constant battle to fulfill fixtures.

Match secretary and experienced coach Harry Turnbull said: “We are struggling as a club due to lack of numbers, to the point that we don’t even have a full committee.

“I select teams as best I can to play in Border League matches, but often I have to choose players from out with the town, or from our junior ranks, because we don’t have enough competitive players at the club to do i t on our own, but we do our best to fulfill fixtures.

“I have coached badminton for close to 25 years now, and there are only two people that I have coached come to this club, one of them my daughter Laura.

“All the others have left the town, as they go to university and never come back, or their interest in the sport has waned. It’s just a sport that appears to be dying out, unfortunately.

“What we really need are six Bill McLarens to get kids interested and to keep their interest. It’s not going to happen, though.”

The drop-off is quite extreme, given the fact that Borders primary and secondary school badminton competitions always attract a healthy entry and are hotly competed.

And Borders youngsters are doing really well in the national age-group scene.

But it’s the continuing exodus that is making things difficult for badminton, along with young players choosing other sports that enjoy more airtime on television, such as tennis or rugby.

“This leaves just normal club players to keep the clubs going and, of course, they get older and eventually retire,” said Harry.

Harry, 61, says he is no longer coaching at the club, but he continues to coach the many youngsters in the Borders, as well as taking them on roadtrips to competitions.

Harry said that losing club coach and close friend Colin Blaikie to cancer last year was a huge blow to all at the club.

He said: “Colin was supposed to be the future of Hawick Badminton Club and he is a great loss to everyone here.”

The club meets every Monday from 7-9pm.