Mr Badminton serves up next generation

Badminton coach Brian Keefe.  Picture: Marie Caley D5310MC
Badminton coach Brian Keefe. Picture: Marie Caley D5310MC

Veteran Doncaster coach Brian Keefe is helping to serve up the next generation of Doncaster badminton players.

The sport locally has seen better days, with the number of clubs and members way down on the sport’s heyday.

“Club badminton in Doncaster has gradually dwindled over the years, which is a shame,” says Brian.

“Part of the reason for there being fewer clubs these days is due to the various leisure centres which have opened up over the last few years.

“When I first started playing in the 1950s and 60s, there were no leisure centres in the town and if you wanted to play you had to join a local club.

“At that time they were generally based in church halls or community centres, even in the canteens of some of the big firms. In those days it was more sociable.

“There used to be over 30 clubs and I now I think there are about ten.”

The situation could have been even worse but for the efforts of Doncaster’s Mr Badminton over the years.

Restricted to coaching juniors after having both hips replaced over a decade ago, Brian has run a junior club at Adwick Leisure Centre for many years and has recently added a second at the Sir Thomas Wharton School in Edlington.

“It is going really well and we get 20-25 youngsters there every Monday,” enthused Brian.

“I think some clubs over the years neglected juniors but I think they have now realised that was a mistake and that they’ve got to have some kids coming through otherwise in a few years’ time there’ll be no clubs.

“But adult members still want to go down on club nights and have a good game and they don’t really want kids taking up court time if they can’t play.

“So what I am trying to do is to get the kids who come to my classes up to a decent standard so that they can join a club and integrate with existing members, and that is what is happening.”

The sport is played in schools throughout the borough and Brian was pleased to see that the Doncaster Badminton Association sponsored the recent Doncaster Championships.

“The hope is that a number of youngsters will continue to take an interest in the sport after they leave school because it is a game for life,” he said.

“But the sport needs to do more to publicise itself. How many times do you see anything in the papers about badminton?

“Kids, in particular, like to see their names in the paper as happens in other sports.”