Hummersknott Badminton Club Tour to North America

Saturday 13th Jul 2013

The tour was the most ambitious we had attempted in the last 15 years.

There were identifiably around 270 different strands to organise from flights to 6 hotels, room lists, 54 meals, kit, travel, 9 badminton venues and a host of visits etc.   Every one was achieved apart from half of one when the local Coach was lost and we missed an hour’s badminton!   From an organisational point of view that must be as good as it gets.  The weather was superb throughout; no illness or injury of any note and no significant losses.

A pleasing observation was that at the end of the ninth badminton venue players still wanted more.  In some ways the badminton is an ‘excuse’ to travel but it has a massive part to play. 

The match in Reykjavik, Iceland, produced some high standard opposition.  Markham Badminton Club, Toronto laid on a Civic reception with National anthems and flags.  Baltimore was a superb venue with 12 courts and lots of badminton.  The teams were very well matched and everyone won some games and lost some.   The time at High Tech High School, New Jersey was unique.   A welcome from the host school unmatched by anything we have seen from a school before.   Local dignitaries had been invited and were present, a catered lunch for around 100 in the school canteen which should have been closed for the holiday.  Lots of badminton including a superb afternoon doubles tournament where players from the two countries were paired.  Next day the yellow school bus took us to meet the school team players led by Dorothy Gilmartin, their teacher, who took us on a conducted tour of Staten Island and the Wall Street area of South Manhatten.  On the Saturday evening over 60 in total from both clubs shared a meal in a restaurant in New Jersey.

Matches in Brooklyn (where there are only doubles courts) and Queens followed at the end of the tour.  The games served to leave the players wanting more and we shall look at what may be possible in future months and years.   Players all had over 40 games on the tour and some nearer 60.  The ability range was wide and it is especially pleasing to take a group which includes players who are of high standard and excel and also some who are much more basic in ability and experience and who would otherwise not have chance easily to play abroad.  When we are asked ‘Who won?’ The reply is the same after each match – International Friendship won.  For proof see the Facebook pages of the players!

To everyone who supported us we are grateful.  From those who hosted our events in these countries to the parents who backed our Dream and the, maybe 20 000, customers who encouraged with a friendly word at check outs or their cash donations at the many bag pack sessions supermarkets allowed us to run.

Reviews from players follows:
As for the trip itself, well I don't know how to begin to describe it, I don't think it can really be described, only documented.

The words that come closest are "crazy", "brilliant", "epic", "unbelievable" and "unforgettable"! hour trip around the various parts of New York. This was very enjoyable because it was a relaxed evening and a nice way to spend time on the final night.
From the boat we were able to get a really good view of the famous New York skyline, the Statue of Liberty (which we had seen more distantly earlier in the week from the Staten Island ferry which is free of charge), the financial district, the skyscrapers, the different New York districts and many more buildings such as the UN headquarters. This cruise was taken in the evening and so we saw a brilliant sunset coming between the buildings. Another striking sight from the boat was the site where Titanic was supposed to dock just over one hundred years ago. This provided much food for thought among the players, and adds to the overall education that people have gained from this trip.
Overall, the trip was amazing. There are no two ways about it. The visits that we were able to do were wonderful, and enjoyed by all. They educated young players, older players and the accompanying adults alike. We often say as a group that it is certain moments that make the trip special. These moments cannot be bought. One such moment that we shall all remember was standing at the top of the Rockefeller building looking over New York with all the lights glowing, cares abandoned temporarily to simply be together as a group witnessing a wonderful sight. Truly priceless.

A second student added the following:
and also did not overshadow other parts of the trip. In the 6 days we were there we did, somehow, do just about everything that is synonymous with NYC, and I particularly enjoyed the High Line, which was a scenic refuge from the hustle and bustle of Manhattan, visiting the British Consulate, and just generally being in such a busy city.

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