Young people play central role in hosting National Schools Championships Finals

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Flags, anthems and the umpire’s chair – what a weekend at the NBC!

The National Badminton Centre was privileged to host an exciting weekend of competitive badminton on Saturday and Sunday as the returning National Schools Championships reached its climax last weekend.

After some inspiring performances across both days, the KS3 and KS4 Boys and Girls were crowned champions at the home of Badminton England in Milton Keynes. Congratulations to Reading School, Wilson’s School and Kendrick School who won gold!

Young people are an integral part of our new 10-year strategy for badminton in England and we wanted to ensure that the pupils themselves were at the heart of the Championships from its start to the finish with the Finals last weekend.

So, in collaboration with Babolat – Official Supplier to the National School Championships – all schools who participated in the regional rounds of the competition were invited to design a flag to represent their region.

The flags were designed to celebrate the values of badminton; Do what matters, Include intentionally, Play for each other and Do today brilliantly. These values are the heartbeat of what we at Badminton England aim to do every day in enabling badminton to be a sport for everyone.

The flag design competition was also a wonderful opportunity for pupils from schools competing in the Championships to create a real identity for their region – with a design that speaks for their part of the country and a colour for them to compete under.

After a panel reviewed all entries, eight vibrant, innovative flags were proudly on display, representing the eight respective regions across both the boys and girls events last weekend. Our National Youth Voice Forum members were then given the prestigious task of deciding the winning design – we were looking for creativity and inspiration whilst incorporating our Badminton England values in their final artwork.

In support of the new initiative, our partners Babolat vowed to reward the winning school with a visit from a Babolat badminton ambassador who will join the school for an assembly followed by an exclusive badminton coaching session for the whole school! And we are delighted to announce that 14 year-old Ruth Biju Mathews, a pupil from Year 9 at Webber Independent School, was chosen as the overall winning designer on behalf of the South Central region.

East Midlands, designed by Lucy Watson from Kesteven and Grantham School, came in second place with team East earning bronze in the competition courtesy of a flag designed by Presdales School.

Felicity Preston, National Youth Voice Forum Chair, said: “We agreed that the South Central flag had the best presentation of the Badminton England values and the sketching effect on it was really unique but still rivalled the computer generated images in the other designs.

“We really liked the solid colours in East Central’s flag, sticking to the brief and creating a beautifully clear image. Team East felt personal and unique due to the hand drawings on it.”

We look forward to following a special visit from a Babolat ambassador to Webber Independent School!

Samantha Anacootee from Webber Independent School, said: “Webber students from Years 6 – 9 were very excited to embrace the challenge to design a flag for the National Schools Championships.

“They began with researching badminton images and created imaginative designs for Team South Central sticking to the brief of using predominantly white and incorporating Badminton England’s core values.

“It was a fantastic opportunity for students to showcase their creative talents and have their design go from the classroom into the real world.”

The regions weren’t just represented visually at the weekend though! Again giving the young people at the core of the competition a leading role, the pupils of the schools involved were asked to select an anthem from a shortlist of songs written or performed by artists from their own region. The anthems were played when players took to court as well as during the trophy presentations. The three times victorious (KS3 girls, KS4 girls and KS4 boys) South Central team chose Figure it Out by Royal Blood. London and the South East school, Wilson’s received their medals to Right Here, Right Now by Fatboy Slim.

And the focus on young people continued off court! Not only were the competing athletes all school pupils…but 15 young men and women from our Young Leaders Academy took to the umpire’s chair, making the difficult decisions as the match officials across the two days of competition.

Young People Manager, Louise Hewitt, said: “The National Schools finals returned with a bang at the weekend. The standard of badminton was amazing with over 150 children from across the country taking part. The festival atmosphere with music, flags and regional coloured t-shirts added an element of team spirit and fun. Congratulations to Kendrick School, Wilson’s School and Reading School on becoming our 2023/24 champions. I can’t wait for next year!”

Peter Mills, UK Sales Manager for Babolat, said:

“Babolat was thrilled to be a part of the National Schools Championships Finals event, thoroughly enjoying every aspect. It was a fantastic weekend at the NBC, filled with flags and anthems. The National Badminton Centre was the perfect host, witnessing an exhilarating weekend of competitive

badminton. Congratulations to Reading School, Wilson’s School, and Kendrick School for winning gold!

“Babolat, the Official Supplier to the National School Championships, collaborated to invite all participating schools in the regional rounds to design a flag representing their region. The flags, celebrating the values of badminton, were a sight to behold. Babolat are proud to have promised to reward the winning school with a visit from a Babolat badminton ambassador.

“The event showcased the commitment of Badminton England to engage more young people in the sport, both on and off the court. Babolat cherished being part of such a remarkable event and was delighted to see the enthusiasm and creativity of the young participants.”

Badminton England is committed to working with the badminton community to enable more young people than ever to get involved in our sport, not just on court but off it too, and events like this weekend’s Finals showcased some of the wonderful opportunities available.

If you would like to know more about how to get involved in either playing or volunteering, find out how!

Junior – Get on the court | Badminton England

National Youth Voice Forum & Young Leader Academy | Badminton England

Thank you to all the schools who submitting entries; Altrincham Grammar School for Boys, Royal Grammar School at Newcastle, Tapton School, Webber International School, Kesteven and Grantham School, Presdales School and Manchester Communication Academy.

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