Badminton Life

New Zealand Badminton Town Upgrades Training Centre

The town of Waitakere has long been recognised as one of the leading centres of development for New Zealand's badminton players.

And now the area is hoping to build on that reputation with world-class badminton facilities.

The Waitakere Badminton Association has just completed a $1.6 million upgrade on its headquarters, now boasting 12 courts and high-quality playing surfaces that would compare with the best in the world.

The association's Paul Shirley was quoted in the local media as saying: "I'm very pleased with how it's turned out. I've used most stadiums in New Zealand and in my view this would be the finest wooden-floor sports building to play on."

Funding for the project, which was five years in the making, was provided by Waitakere Licensing and ASB Trusts. However, the City Council was not involved in any financing.

Instead, they played a crucial role by constructing a ring road around the building and providing extra car parking.

The venue was built in 1974 and back then it only had six courts. The count increased to nine in 2000 to facilitate the hosting of a build-up tournament to the Sydney Olympics.

With membership increasing, Shirley said it was necessary for the association to increase the number of courts to 12.

He said the rise in popularity of badminton in the area was also because of the increasing number of ethnic Asians who have moved to the vicinity.

"For a period in the 1990s we were in financial trouble as most amateur sports were," said Shirley. "But badminton is mainly an Asian game and since then the Asian population in Waitakere has grown a lot.

"Our membership is now around 3,000 and 90 per cent of those would be Asian.

"All of a sudden we had a shortage of courts. On a Saturday and Sunday, every court here is going from 6.30 in the morning right through the day."

Young players such as Luke Charlesworth, Ashraf Dhoray, Ethan Haggo, Emily Ang, Kritteka Gregory and Mary O'Connor were groomed at the facility and they will be part of a 10-strong New Zealand squad to compete in the world junior championships in India in October.

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