July 2016 - Hummersknott Badminton Club International Tour

Sunday 21st Aug 2016

 In mid July HBC embarked on this year's major international tour. Joining with us were several from Phoenix Badminton Club, Wolsingham, Durham who have strong links with hummersknott and a few from Oxfordshire. In all there were ten different itineries in what was tagged "the ultimate Hop On Hop Off tour". First stop was Malta for five nights and 2 visits to the island of Gozo. Club players have now played in 27 countries but Malta was only the third Commonwealth country. Her Majesty who spent some of early married life in Malta had sent a greeting to the Club before the tour. Mr Rob Luke, High Commissioner in Malta, welcomed the players and explained his diplomatic role on behalf of the UK.

Next was a flight to Barcelona; a visit to the Nou Camp stadium home of Barcelona FC and a day tour to Andorra. No badminton available in Andorra but the group did manage an introduction to Padel Tennis with the help of a local coach.

A six hour coach journey to Malaga followed and 3 more matches in local venues. In Ronda the local TV covered a Town Hall reception, exchanges of pennants and letters of greeting. The Mayor of Darlington had given the group a personal greeting from our town to hand over.

Two nights in a retreat centre in Gibraltar followed which allowed some self catering. The team were invited to the Govenor's office and given a tour of the historic Convent where he is based. He had been called to a meeting in Cyprus but his wife kindly greeted the team showing a great interest in the players and the actvities included in the tour.

Back into Spain for one night at Huelva and two matches against local players which were excellent events on nine courts. Local dignitaries attended at the morning match and again greetings were exchanged.

Final venue was Lisbon with lots of sightseeing and a further match. The group managed to see the Christ the King statue which is a replica of the one so often seen on TV coverage of the Olympics. A fast lift allowed players who wished to do so to go to the top and enjoy magnificent views of the City. On the final day an invitation was received from Mrs Kirsty Hayes, The Uk Ambassador to Portugal, to visit her for afternoon tea at the Residence. A badminton net was set up in the superb garden, hung between two parasol stands, and Mrs Hayes went on court with her two children for a leisurely knock about with some shuttlecocks. She the addressed us about her role and how the Referendum result had led to her being heavily involved with the Portuguese President in the days which followed.

A group of 10 from Cecola, Italy, joined our group in Malaga for 7 nights before they flew back to Rome. This link grew out of the 2014 tour and the same team had visited Darlington, Durham Sheffield and London in 2015. They are from the only foreign club to actually leave their homeland to join in with the Darlington people.

Plans are developing for further tours in the coming years.

Report by Philip Boyle.



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