27 June 2022
Open letter to the badminton community in England
Following our Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Saturday, I am writing to update you on the progress we have made since my last letter to you in November.
The extent of change that has taken place at Badminton England during the last year has been significant. Whilst it has taken time, we are starting to emerge from this difficult period and we will be stronger for it.
As we look to the future, the Board is under no illusion that there is a long road ahead if we are to restore the pride in English badminton.
Our new leadership team
In March, we announced the appointments of Sue Storey as our new Chief Executive and Morten Frost as our Performance Director. Sue led significant change as Chief Executive at Volleyball England and she has an open, collaborative style that has enabled her to make an impact from the moment she joined us in May. Morten has had an exemplary career, achieving extraordinary success as a player and a coach and we are delighted that he was keen to join us, which he was finally able to do in early June.
It was clear to those involved in their recruitment that Sue and Morten share the same philosophy as the Board, and we are looking forward to the future under their leadership. It is still early days for both Sue and Morten and whilst they are getting to grips with their respective roles, they are already starting to make changes.
Review of the year
The AGM is the time when we reflect on the year just gone and we look ahead to the future.
The Annual Report for 2021/22 was presented to members and contains the Board’s assessment of performance across all aspects of the game. The Annual Report is available here https://www.badmintonengland.co.uk/annual-report-2021-22/
At the AGM, we provided a number of updates to the matters included in the Annual Report:
• The Talent Pathway review is nearing completion, following extensive research and consultation and the findings will be presented to the Board during the Summer, before sharing more widely later in the year
• We continue to make progress in implementing the recommendations of the health check conducted by UK Sport, changing philosophy and building a modern performance support team
• Our bid to retain Super 1000 status for the YONEX All England Championships has been successful, and we look forward to welcoming the world’s top players back to Birmingham for the next four years.
As we look to the future, the Board has a number of immediate priorities:
• We need to complete the strategic review, with the fresh perspective that a new leadership team brings, including the development of long-term plans to develop talent, support clubs and domestic competition, grow the grassroots of our sport and achieve medal success
• In order that we can be a modern National Governing Body, open, capable of listening and working collaboratively with a wide range of partners in a more flexible way, we need to finish our work on culture and values and organisational change
• We will publish our Equality, Diversity & Inclusion plans and, having recruited a Steering Group which boasts a rich blend of talent and experience from across badminton, the wider sports community and from industry. In the first year we will focus on education, recruitment, improving provision for disability badminton and tackling inequalities through a place-based approach.
• If we are to fund investment into the sport, over and above the grants provided by Sport England and UK Sport (which come with conditions for their use), we must restore and grow the levels of self-generated income, including membership income, sponsorship and other commercial income from the YONEX All England and the National Badminton Centre.
To repeat what I said in November; we need to be prepared to take a longer-term view than we have in the past, first to rebuild and then to develop and grow our capability. I say this from both the standpoint of the challenges we have today and due to continued resource constraints.
We will need to be clear on our intent and be determined, but while there are many immediate improvements we can make, we are also going to have to be patient for us to reach the heights to which we aspire. We have a five to ten year time horizon and the Board and the Executive team are very focused on and committed to what needs to be done.
Finally, I am very pleased that James Thomas was elected to the Board at the AGM. James is a leader with over 20 years of experience in the UK’s performance sport system, holding a variety of performance focused roles in Olympic and Paralympic sports and a background in Rugby Union as a player.
He has held a number of senior leadership roles and worked extensively with Boards, UK and Home Nation Government Agencies, commercial partners and senior leadership teams. He recently became Director of Performance Services at Manchester City FC after five years as Performance Director at British Gymnastics, one of the nation’s largest NGBs.
Please do not hesitate to get in touch with me or Sue Storey, if you have any questions or comments.