Lack of indoor venues could lose next generation
Grass-roots sport is sacrificing a generation of participants while two-thirds of indoor facilities remain unusable until the autumn and beyond, governing bodies warned yesterday.
The chief executives in charge of the nation’s badminton, netball, wheelchair rugby, table tennis and basketball bodies all say their sports have hit a “brick wall” due to Covid-19 lockdown measures which have meant that indoor playing spaces have almost disappeared. The impact has been devastating for badminton, which is Britain’s fourth-most popular participation sport.
“Two-thirds of leisure facilities are closed, with no real clear road map as to when they will be open,” Adrian Christy, the Badminton England chief executive, said. “Badminton is played by four million people, but we have hit a brick wall until this is resolved.
“There are 232 facilities unable to open and, for us, that’s about 16,000 courts. We don’t want to see a generation of players lost to sport.”
In a joint statement, the governing bodies for badminton, netball, basketball, volleyball and table tennis called on the Government to protect indoor sports halls from “being sacrificed as overflow gyms, or, in some cases, not reopening at all”. The majority of other regular venues, such as schools or universities, also remain closed.