The foundation of the new after-school club for pupils in St. Ronan’s National School and Deansrath Community College got underway on Tuesday May 23rd when Badminton Ireland licenced coach and club founder, Andy Tang, delivered taster sessions to approximately two-hundred students from a combination of both schools. That was a significant participation figure and that is a testament to the support this initiative has received from Ms. Fitzgerald, the principal of St. Ronan’s NS, and John Doyle the sports co-ordinator in Deansrath CC. To gain a deeper understanding of what has motivated Andy to set-up this club, and also what aspirations he has in the long run for the club, we decided to pose him a few questions.
What is the purpose of the club Andy?
To give the children in both St. Ronan’s NS and Deansrath CC the opportunity to try out Badminton and learn the fundamental skills of the game. Badminton is a sport for life and hopefully by placing emphasis on enjoyment and continuous improvement we will hopefully see numbers continue to grow in the club.
Where did you get the inspiration to start this after-school club?
My main inspiration for this venture came from seeing Sister Annette run a Table Tennis club from the school. Her energy, drive, and enthusiasm to ensure the club remained highly active really sticks out in my mind. One particular moment that resonates with me is from the morning of the Community Games last year when she was knocking on doors at 6:35am to make sure her players would be up and ready to pack into her Hiace for the trip to Athlone. It turned out her efforts weren’t to prove to be in vain as the U13 boys’ team won gold at that games. They are the kind of trips that create lifetime memories.
Moreover, I am using this opportunity to give something back to the community in which I grew up in. Offering badminton to children in the area will be fantastic as traditionally it wouldn’t be played in this parish.
What is the next step in the development of the club?
The school year is finishing up shortly so we have sent out an interest sign-up sheet with a view to getting up and running in late September. Nonetheless, in the meantime we have a number of teachers in both schools who have volunteered to help in the club and we hope to get them their Shuttle Time qualification before the 2017/2018 season. There is an upcoming course taking place in Marino Institute of Education on July 24th which we hope to send some participants on, while we are also considering hosting a course in Deansrath later in the summer. In the long-term I hope this will be a fully functioning club that enters Badminton Ireland, schools, and Community Games events.
Who has assisted you in getting the club up and running?
This club has received tremendous support from both schools, which I believe will prove to be the critical factor for our success when we get up and running in September. John Doyle from Deansrath CC, and Ms. Fitzgerald and MS. Tully from St. Ronan’s have wholeheartedly given their backing to this project and I am extremely grateful for that. Also notable mentions for my two friends in badminton, Pat and Martyn, who have offered sincere and honest advice to help guide me along at the beginning of the journey which has been truly helpful, while Badminton Ireland have assisted with loaning equipment for the taster session and I was thankful for that assistance.
Finally then Andy, what is the next step for you in planning for September?
I intend to start fundraising for the club this summer and I have a couple of ideas which I will implement on this front. It would be great if any companies or organisations were interested in assisting this cause, and if so I would encourage them to get in touch. One challenge we face is getting equipment, so if you could advertise for any clubs who have badminton equipment no longer use to please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can give it a new home.
“I am not afraid to try and fail, I just don’t want to regret not trying at all” – Andy Tang.
Interview conducted with Andy Tang – Club Secretary