Pop-up badminton court attracts shoppers

John Burley recently helped facilitate a come-and-try event for the Sale-Maffra Badminton Association in the Gippsland Centre.

Tom Parry

SHOPPERS at Sale’s Gippsland Centre have been delighted by a pop-up badminton court.

The Sale-Maffra Badminton Association recently hosted come-and-try sessions outside the entrance of Target, in hope of attracting new players to the sport.

The sessions have been running at the centre for a number of years, as facilitator and SMBA life member, John Burley explained to the Gippsland Times.

“We were a bit fortunate that the previous centre manager, Janette Henwood, was one of our players, and she allowed us to do it,” Burley said.

“We did try it at different times of the year, and we’ve found (January) is the ideal time.”

According to Burley, this is because people have places they want to go or need to be during other months of the year.

“Whereas now, they’re on holidays, and people have got the time to stop, have a chat and have a go,” he said.

Sessions were run across Friday, January 6 and Saturday, January 7 in the centre, with a steady stream of curious youngsters and their parents stopping by to give the indoor racquet sport a go.

Most of those who participated had not played, nor heard of badminton before; some had difficulty adjusting to the peculiar set-up, while others picked-up the technique within minutes.

One young participant, Harry Adams, became so enamoured by the sport that he continued playing even as his mum went shopping in Target, only leaving after being promised an ice cream.

Another newcomer to badminton had a hit on Friday, before eagerly returning for another round on Saturday.

While the ultimate aim of the sessions is to attract more members locally, Burley is just happy to see more people playing.

“If he (a participant) lives in Frankston and he has a hit here, gets excited and he plays down at Frankston, I don’t care – it’s still another one playing the sport, so that’s what it’s all about,” Burley said.

Further come-and-try sessions are being hosted throughout January at the Mick Mundy Stadium on Cobains Rd, Sale.

Sessions take place on Wednesday, January 18 and 25 from 10am to 12pm, and in the evening from 7pm to 8pm.