Grassroots badminton academy makes sport more accessible

16 August 2022

Young people from inner city Birmingham have been given the chance pick up a racket and shuttlecock with the set-up of brand-new grassroots badminton academy ProSmash – following support from West Midlands law firm Shakespeare Martineau.

The academy will also be organising its first youth sports camp in the city, which hosted the 2022 Commonwealth Games this summer.

Shakespeare Martineau has sponsored the camp, which is set to take place during the school summer holidays and will be led by Alfu Miah, head coach at Birmingham City University’s men’s and women’s badminton teams, and national badminton star Imran Bashir.

Alfu said: “It is really exciting that Birmingham has hosted the Commonwealth Games this year. I hope the event’s legacy motivates young people to engage in more physical activity, abstain from crime, and create better, healthier communities.

“Guns and knife crime have become a prevalent issue in local inner-city areas. This needs to change. Together, we need to create more sporting opportunities and clubs for young people so they have positive things to do and stay away from gangs and crime.

“Funding from Shakespeare Martineau has enabled us to deliver projects and buy equipment so young people can play, have fun and making better social connections.”

Imran added: “This is an excellent example of how local businesses can help support charities and clubs like ours to deliver more opportunities for children and young people.

“The funding has help us provide coaching and buy equipment. Thank you for your ongoing support.”

The aim of the academy is to create a safe environment for inner city youths to experience badminton. Following a successful launch after the pandemic, the club now sees up-to 40 people from the local community in its regular weekly sessions, which take place on Thursday and Friday evenings, and over the weekend.

Mohammed Saqub, partner and head of Islamic finance at Shakespeare Martineau, said: “At Shakespeare Martineau, we are keen to support and we recognise the significant role corporates in the city have to play.

“ProSmash is making badminton more accessible, while also helping young people to broaden their prospects by engaging with role models in a safe environment.

“Badminton is fairly elitist and ProSmash is doing an excellent job in promoting the game in the inner city. I’ve visited numerous times before and it was great to see ordinary working people enjoying sport.

“A lot of youth clubs have closed due to a lack of funding and many young people are left with limited options when it comes to how they spend their spare time. This can often lead to them getting involved in crime.

“The business community can help to fill that funding gap and support the next generation by sponsoring important services and groups such as ProSmash.

“There’s a lot of untapped talent out there and lost opportunities as well. People will pick up a racket for the first time and have fantastic hand-eye coordination and they need better support to develop their skills.

“There’s so much more to the game – it’s not just about hitting a shuttle over a court. Badminton is a beautiful sport and I am thrilled it is becoming more accessible to those in Birmingham.”

For more information about ProSmash and the academy’s upcoming summer youth sports camp, please email Mohammed.Saqub@shma.co.uk.

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