A dedicated new badminton centre is set to inspire a new generation of stars.
The sports hall at Garforth Leisure Centre has been transformed into a premier centre for badminton as a result of a £120,000 investment from BADMINTON England alongside partnership funding from Leeds City Council.
The new facility boasts a fully refurbished five badminton court hall, with state-of-the-art lighting, flooring and refurbishment of the sports hall changing rooms.
The centre also features its own small piece of Olympic legacy, with the installation of 100 spectator seats used in the temporary stands of the London 2012 Aquatics Centre.
The aim of the Centre is to provide badminton opportunities for all ages and all levels, from absolute beginners and community players, through to club players and The Leeds Performance Centre.
The new Centre was officially opened by Jenny Wallwork, Commonwealth Silver medallist and badminton coaches Harry and Barbara Jarvis, along with representatives from the Leeds Badminton Network, BADMINTON England, Leeds City Council, Sport England and West Yorkshire Sport.
A number of past and present badminton players including Gail Emms MBE, Donna Kellogg MBE, and Nathan Robertson were at the opening of the new Centre, supporting a fundraising event ‘Raise a Racket for Malawi’ organised by Jenny Wallwork for the Charity Open Arms Malawi.
Adrian Christy, Chief Executive of BADMINTON England, said: “As a county, Yorkshire has a proud badminton history of encouraging players to play, developing young talent and helping to nurture that talent into world class players.
“Along with good coaches, outstanding facilities are key to the attraction of people into sport and the development of players, and I am delighted that the new Badminton Centre in Leeds will play such a role for generations to come.
“An investment into facilities such as this, and the partnership with local authorities such as Leeds City Council, reflects badminton’s position as the most played racket sport in the country, and I hope it will inspire even more people to take up the game in the area.”
Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, Leeds City Council’s executive member for leisure and skills, added: “The development represents a new and innovative approach to supporting the Leeds Badminton Network to continue their excellent work in the development of the game from grass roots to elite levels.
“It provides for exclusive access for the Network to ensure that they have the necessary time and space to make a real contribution to the development of badminton.”
Brian Wallwork, chairman of The Leeds Badminton Network, said: “The facility is fantastic and gives badminton in Leeds a place to call home and will enable us to get more people of all ages playing the sport.”
The Leeds Badminton Network and Leeds City Council have put in place a user agreement for the next 10 years, securing badminton’s future at the venue with the Centre also becoming the new home for The Leeds Performance Centre.