Dear Sir As an Aycliffe resident of 40  years I always look forward to reading the Newton News at the end of the week to see what was going on around the town. Even now that I have lived in Darlington for the last 2 years I still make time to check up on local news. In the past and certainly in the last couple of weeks I have seen an article I just had to respond to, which has really got my goat. Aycliffe Badminton Club who play at the Leisure Centre on Friday nights have advertised for new people to join their club and have a game. Four years ago I did just that, because as a school kid I always enjoyed a game of badminton and although I wasn’t world class, I wasn’t that bad either. I saw this club as an opportunity to get back into a sport that I enjoyed playing as a youngster, whilst meeting new people and socialising so I purchased a couple of rackets and joined. At first I was made to feel welcome as was most of the new participants. The system was good and everyone got to play maybe 2, 3 or 4 games throughout the 2 hours. I had been taking part for about
10 weeks when this particular night I was approached by one of the more competent team players. He took me to one side and explained that I was no longer welcome at the club as the old timers and senior players had assessed my ability and decided I did not cut the grade as a player and would never make the team. My subs were just short of £5 a week, but now when I think about it and especially since they have a certain time of the year for recruitment, the money I paid, like everyone else, probably went into paying for hall hire and shuttlecocks. It seems when they have acquired enough money they start turfing people out! I would discourage anyone wishing to join this club and find it disgusting they have the nerve to advertise themselves as a fun place to “come and have a game of badminton”. I would really like the organisers of this club to explain why they treated me the way they did. I would also like other people, that have had similar experiences to come forward and give their thoughts. PK.

Badminton Club Reply . . .

Dear PK Thank you for your letter, as a club run by volunteers we are always grateful to receive feedback.  We were pleased to read that you felt welcomed at the club and enjoyed attending.  We welcome this opportunity to reply to your letter and give further explanation. We are one of the few clubs in the area that play throughout the year (some others close during the summer).  Because of this we don’t have a ‘certain time of the year for recruitment’ – this means that members are able to join throughout the year, and membership fees are pro rata accordingly, ensuring value for money.  So your comment of ‘acquired enough money together they start turfing people out the door’ is inaccurate. As a Badminton England registered club and for insurance reasons, the club can only allow players six guest visits before a decision has to be made whether they join full time or leave. During this time the guests can decide whether they enjoy the club, before committing to pay any annual fee, and the committee has a chance to assess both ability and attitude. Regrettably, as we are primarily not a beginners’ club, if the committee considers a player does not have the required skills and does not seem to be improving, it has to suggest that the player should gain a little more experience elsewhere before joining. The committee is sorry that you were put in this position and that maybe this was not clearly explained to you at the time. As a club, we are currently unable to run any formal coaching sessions, but as you pointed out we are a friendly club that make visitors feel welcome, and would encourage people to ‘come and have a game of badminton’.  If you would like to discuss your problem of several years ago further, please feel free to contact the club directly to either the Club secretary or by dropping in on a Friday to speak to a member of the current committee. Ian Boyd