The University of East London’s Badminton Club have made huge amount of progress in recent weeks to provide a competitive squad for the 2016/17 season. A fresher’s event was held in Sportsdock October 5th with all the other sports clubs. The club achieved a record number of people signing up to participate at all levels. In total, the amount of sign ups were 131.
The Committee was extremely pleased with the outcome and the club held their first session of the new academic year. With 131 people wanting to participate in the sport, even half of that number would be encouraging for the growth of the club. Improving the team from last year with new additions would be crucial, with organsisers hoping for fresh faces who could lift a team which was struggling at the bottom of their table due to lack of experience.
Both coaches John Fielding and Tu Sang held a training session, as well as free practice to evaluate who had potential to be in the team. With vital input from the current team, the coaches identified a few promising players. One which stood out was Azhar Syed, 22. Fielding said: “Azhar is a player with good grounding in technique and good ability to move effectively.” A third year who transferred from Waterford Institute of Technology in Ireland, Syed has been identified to be the team’s new singles player for the year. He plays for Waterford Badminton club competing regularly in all Ireland Championships and League finals, saying “although there are no professional clubs in Ireland this gets pretty close!”
The first match of the season was against University of Essex and UEL were confident that they could pull off a result and make a winning start to the season. But already up against it with one player short, the team were soon 2-0 down.
Azhar made an instant impact as he cruised to a 21-9, 21-3 win in his first match making the score 2-1 to Essex. In the doubles match, Alvin Lee and Marco Eng (number one seeds) for team UEL, finished with a win of 21-13, 21-18. With the scores at 2-2 UEL were confident, Lee emphasising how well he and Eng work together: “I am comfortable playing with Marco.”
Next to play were Tze Voon Lim and Ali Chin (number two seeds) in their first match and they passed their test winning 21-15, 21-8. As UEL were in the lead, the confidence within the team rose. With two more wins from the doubles (the number one seeds winning 21-18, 21-12 and the second seeds 21-18, 22-20) the contest concluded with Azhar’s last match of his debut. Easing past his opponent 21-13, 21-4 the result was sealed for team UEL, with an impressive final score of 6-2.
After UEL’s success, Azhar said: “I was nervous at the beginning because I didn’t know what to expect from the opponent, but once I got going I was confident and comfortable that I could win.” His confidence was infectious and inspired the rest of the team.
Although only one game in, UEL have a couple of injury scares for their next match with Chin and Lee both picking up knocks. In addition, team member Joshua Teoh did not participate due to an ankle injury. Despite the setbacks, the first win of the season should put UEL in high spirits and the whole team will be hoping for similar success against the London School of Economics 3rd team.