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NC Badminton needs youth-boost

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“The club fees are not that high, only R700 per year which is equal to what some pay for a round of golf,“

Kits were recently over to the Provincial Badminton Union at the old De Beers Country Club. Seen (from left) are: Yolanda Muller (Easigas) Paul van Rensburg (team captain) Wiehan Smith, Tania Bekker, Martinet Burger (vice-captain), Flippie Opperman (chairperson and manager NCB), Michelle Heins, Freddie Nel and Jannie van der Westhuizen (Vleissentraal). Picture: Danie van der Lith

Provincial administrators for the sport of badminton have launched a drive to sustain and help the sport flourish among a much younger and more diverse generation of players in the region.

Player and chairman of the Provincial Badminton Union (PBU) Phillip Opperman, speaking at a kit handover ceremony at the old DeBeers Country Club on Wednesday evening, said the game has, over the last 20 years, shrunk from being one that enjoyed huge support among an older generation, to a sport which enjoys very low attendance levels among especially the younger generation in the Northern Cape.

“The parents played the sport then but their children have not followed suit in joining the sport. We are looking for partners to help us make an impression at places such as local schools and all over the Province,” Opperman said.

“The Northern Cape has the potential to grow.

“The club fees are not that high, only R700 per year which is equal to what some pay for a round of golf, “ he added.

Opperman reeled off the names of famous badminton players who originate from the Northern Cape who have gone on to establish themselves nationally and elsewhere. Among the well-regarded players nationally are junior team players Robert Summers, René Olivier and Barco Schefer.

Sponsors VleisSentraal and Easy Gas/Gas & More were on hand to hand over kit to the union yesterday. The provincial team is preparing to take part in a national seniors championship in Durban at the end of this month running from September 27 to November 5. The sponsors handed out travel bags, kits and contributed towards road travel costs.

The eight-member team is made up of Paul van Rensburg (captain), Martinet Burger (vice-captain), Operman, Tanya Bekker, Michelle Heins, Wiehan Smit, Diane Olivier and Freddie Nel.

Opperman told the DFA that the provincial team travels relatively frequently to the various age group tournaments all around the country. However, the players are all responsible for their own travel purses as the squad does not have financial sponsor nor does it enjoy television broadcasts.

He said the national Badminton union does get a grant from the government which is split among the provinces. The grant is a modest sum considering their overall needs.