The Venue Dilemma
Holte School and Leisure Center
Holte School was home to Bidgley Power. They moved there in the early 80’s and every Saturday we played at the badminton club run by and mostly financed by Pritesh Pattni, now Chair for the Charity. we played at the club from 2pm to 4pm and on Sundays it would also be match days. Holte School was a cube, with a green flat roof and accommodated multi-sports to be played there including five-a-side football badminton and other sports. The sports hall was used by many people in the community and the school. Bidgley Power had access to the sports hall on the weekends and working with the center manager at the time, Dave Rose. He was great! He allowed Bidgley to grow and develop sports for the community.
The Sports hall was in need of serious repairs but “we loved it!” said Robin Rashid a young player who played at the club. He Said, “The walls were close to the lines, the floor was hard and gritty because the footballers had been playing with dirty trainers and the roof used to always leak and the changing rooms were always locked, but it was home and we could play till our hearts content. The floor was like a ice-ring, players would slide across the floor with precision and not fall over. We would win away badminton matches as teams hated playing there, giving us home advantage because the floor was so bad. The flat roof leaks cause serious hazards and players had been previously injured by falling and hurting themselves. It was all we had and people called it home. We heard that the council had plans to get it demolished and were looking forward to a new venue. Badminton
Coaching At Leisure Center
Alfu Miah and Harun Raza, who worked as Community Sports Development Officer, became badminton coaches at Holte. They loved the sport so much that we coached the children for free. We saw the impact it was making to the community and could engaged young people by helping them learn a whole heap of t life skills and moral education that would help them become more disciplined, learn to respect others and community, learn about the impacts of drugs, guns and crime and most importantly play badminton staying fit, while playing in an organised safe environment. A lot of activities were run from the hall and this is where people played and enjoyed themselves. Every Saturday without fail there would be at least 30 kids waiting to get their weekend fix, train and have lots of fun. it was a place to gather and play. Bidgley Power in partnership with Bangladeshi Youth Forum ran session for badminton, coaching and workshops. Looking back now there were key elements that made the opportunities to play possible. Firstly, Bidgley Power would book the sports Hall and look for funding to allow local children and young people to play at a minimum costs.
The children and young people came from the local community and also from the school. The coaching was having a big impact of how children were performing, both academically and as players representing the school and playing for the Badminton Club. Below is a picture from 2000. Gary Boothroyd and H.K Night both fantastic P.E teachers at the school, taught a group of pupils that won 4 All-Birmingham School Finals, many of whom came to the badminton Coaching run by Bidgley Power which complimented and advanced their badminton skills and techniques. This continued and we had many players who did really well and went to represent their county and get a National Ranking.
Badminton in an expensive game and it it wasn’t for the likes of Pritesh Pattni keeping the club afloat the club would have folded. The club was manged by various people as a shared approach to keep things running. Sham Uddin (Now Warwickshire coach and international Line Judge) ensured a smooth running of events and helped with coaching the juniors. Many young people used the venue to play.
So What Was it like…?
As a player and later Head Coach for Bidgley Power, having the availability of a cheap venue was paramount for young people to use and enjoy. As a player I spent most of my weekends in the hall playing badminton. I learnt that having the environment for learning and playing that was safe and affordable kept me off the street and away from negative activities. We used the Sports hall for many different activities.
The first sport that I played was there was 5-aside football. There were a lot of youth work projects run from the Hall. A Youth Worker by the Name of Abdul Gafar, (please read his story) with his colleagues Dennis and Raja Choudury, invited me and all the other kids to Asian Boys Club. This club did many activities and help young people play many sports as well as learn basic skills and how to keep out of trouble. I, like many other loved training at Holte School. It was easily accessible and local to where I lived. I remember that entrance doors used to have a great big rusty steel padlock to keep people out. Inside, the hall had a dark brown wall and the fire exit doors were locked using a blue plastic chair that people used to run into occasionally while playing football. There were large football goals that used to randomly fall and was dangerous from the dangling goal nets. I remember the storage cupboards where the equipment was kept being all over the place with heavy cricket mats everywhere.
It was really odd and now quite funny was that the heating was always off in the winter but on in the summer, but training was fun and I made many friends at Badminton club and I didn’t let small things bother me. (Alfu Miah, 2014) Many children came to play from all over ! I still have the friends that I made then and although a lot of people have moved on they still remain in contact to play tournaments and events.
Losing the Venue
In 2010 the the venue was demolished to make way for a super school. This was really good news for us and the community as we would get a state the art venue to use. The school was taken over by Lend Lease as with that all the rules changed. The community were no longer able to use the venue and all the resources to them were lost. What was really upsetting and a big loss to the community was that they built a brand new sport complex and we could not use it. Bidgley Power had to move venue and make some tough decision about continuing and the logistics of rearranging matches, looking if we could afford a new venue and the changes that were necessary for the transition.
Read Shah Report, (Young Star Player then and now and Investment Banker) about the impact of the summer project. The report was written in 2008.
Moving to Broadway School
In 2010, we move to Broadway School Perry Barr, this was our new home to play badminton. With the transition and move we also re-designed our coaching clubs and looked at innovative ways to engage the community and young people to play badminton. Bidgley Power Badminton club were going through a major shift in thinking and re-branding in order to meet the needs of players and the community. The mission statement and aims and objective of the club as well as the logo was changed and new volunteers joined it’s membership to grow a new Bidgley. There was a big need to develop new coaches and build the skills of volunteers to deliver community projects and have more badminton training sessions. In order to meet needs of players, Bidgley Power developed the Coaches Council. See Pictures below.
The coaching council was masterminded and organised by Syed Uddin who led the project. The idea behind the coaching council was that Bidgley Power could have a team of dedicated volunteers who love playing badminton to look at widening participation, increasing health and well-being through community engagement and create opportunities. It was also designed to be a platform to share ideas, bring coaches together and highlight needs to develop more community coaches. The coaches Council were instrumental in looking at training programs and workshops to develop new coaches as well as up-skill existing ones.
Aston Villa Leisure Center (Aston Arena)
Aston Villa Leisure Center was the best venue for miles to run tournament for Badminton. It had 12 playable courts and also had spectator seating area. Many people used the center for various activities and was home to Aston Villa Badminton Club. The venue was knock down surprisingly in 2010. A big loss to the community and another venue gone. The community got together with the MEP Nikkie Sinclair to stop the demolition but in the end the bulldozers came in and flattened the building. The centre had some historical events was an asset to the community. Click on the link to read more. (Battle to save Aston Arena)
Many tournament were run and organised by The Bangladeshi Youth Forum, A community initiative helping young people from the area to gain Informal Education, Social skills, Employment Support and Sporting activities. In 2006, in partnership with Bidgley Power Badminton Club it organised the Uniting Communities badminton Tournament. Harun Raza and Alfu Miah who were working in Community and sports development used the games as a way to unite people from all backgrounds to play in one single place. They Both saw the problems within the community and that there was a need for people to come together and Play Badminton. Many young people and people from the community came and enjoyed themselves. It was a first of many tournament that would pave the way for other clubs and organisations to do the same.
The main idea’s were given by Abdul Gafar who had a big influence on Community Badminton Development and advised the organisation on how to organised and run the tournaments. We used his method of categorizing players to ability rather than age and also had categories for beginners and social players as well as young people and professionals. We recognized that that his method was fair and inclusive of all people regardless of ability or background. We recorded some footage of the 2006 Uniting Communities tournament that took place in Aston Villa Leisure Center. Please click on link to watch. Maybe you might recognize some young faces all them years ago!
Click on Video to view You Tube Video of BYF Uniting Communities Badminton Tournament Footage