A key aim for the University of East London Badminton club this year is to grow recruitment, with the overall ambition to improve both the competiveness of both the men’s and women’s squads.
To this end, the club attended UEL’s annual fresher’s event with the other sports clubs at the univeristy’s Sportsdock, with a particular focus on enticing first-year students to sign up.
Both men’s and women’s teams were very pleased with the number of people wanting to sign up. As both teams have different specific objectives for the season, the growth of the club was evident and this year was no exception. The men’s team are coming off an unbeaten promotion season but are looking for fresh faces to go straight into the team and to create healthy competition within the side. The women’s team need players who are committed and willing to play for the team throughout the duration of the year.
At the first training day, new coach Anthony MacDonald held an open training session, identifying the players that are good enough to play for both teams. With the help of UEL captain Ali Chin and doubles player Josh Teoh, there were many promising players. MacDonald identified three who could be part of the men’s team squad including 22-year-old Zain Asraf.
In addition, the women’s team will be revamped with four new players in the first year at university. Women’s captain Nisha Patel sees considerable potential but says she will only pick ‘the best’. Chloe Stephenson, Abbey Conroy, Shu Qi and Pauleen Kai were all picked due to their talent and their enthusiasm to play.
Kai, 19 said: “The reason I took up badminton in my first year at university is because I want to enhance my skills as I used to play this sport. I also want to get to know people and enjoy university life playing badminton with my teammates.” She aims to “enhance our skills, helping each other to improve, win matches together and enjoy playing badminton.”
Both teams went on to have opening day away games with the men’s team playing City 1sts and the women’s team playing Kings College. Unfortunately, in a new division the men’s team narrowly lost 5-3 with some games that did not fall UEL’s way. The women’s team lost 8-0 to a strong Kings College 2nds side but despite the results, both teams will go into the season with a positive mindset that they can pick up points along the way.