Nigel: Goslings London Badminton Club
Badminton keeps me super fit – confessions of a multi-sport enthusiast
I started playing badminton when I was twelve at a local youth club and later in the sixth form. Then there was a gap of twenty-one years. I remember looking up ‘Gay Sports Clubs’ back in the early 90s but didn’t do anything about it.
I’d been playing badminton again, quite competitively with friends who played at a similar level to me. While I was getting a lot out of it, regular games were hard to organise. I discovered Goslings at the end of 2010, playing just down the road from work. At forty-six I started playing pretty much every week. Now it varies because I joined the Gay Men’s Chorus and also have to learn to dance.
The benefits of being in an LGBT club are pure enjoyment and fun – adrenalin and playing till I drop. Singles Badminton, feels just about the most arduous game you could possibly play. I loved it and was playing twice a week – it was absolutely killing. In a two-and-a-half-hour evening we would play about eight games, sometimes, twelve or thirteen. There’s a regular inflow of new people into the club with thirty to fifty-five playing each night.
There’s one session every month when non-members can come and Thursdays is Open Access for anyone at any level. The Goslings committee is very impressive, they ensure that everything is in place for each session to run, at a range of venues.
Going to the pub has always been a regular asset of all four sessions. I play on a Monday, at a higher level and we always go to the pub afterwards. It has been vital for me that Goslings is an LGBT club because of the welcoming feeling I experienced from the start. One of the reasons I joined was to try and make friends. I was newly back in London so it seemed the obvious way to meet people who I might socialise with. What’s very good about the badminton is that you play a game, you’re off for at least ten minutes maybe twenty and there’s always someone to chat to in that period and that really does build friendships. It’s also unique in terms of a sporting experience to know that you can be open about your sexual orientation and that not be an issue.
That was why I joined the Gay Cricket Club in the late nineties and later, the Hockey club. The Royals were at one of those sports fairs. I have children all of whom were teenagers when I was fifty and were all playing hockey at school. I think I’d always liked the idea of hockey but I never played it in my life. I’d watched, so I knew the rules, but I thought it would be a good way of communing with my children – having a common experience. Although they never came to see me, they showed a lot of interest in me playing and that embedded my support in them playing. Then in 2015 I went to the LGBT Euro Games which was absolutely amazing. I actually went to play both sports, a rarity because there were only three days of competition. I played badminton on the first and second day and hockey on the third day. It worked out perfectly.
In Badminton and many of the other clubs there is a surprising number of LGBT women and men in their late forties – early fifties who play to a very high standard, so there was never any feeling that I stuck out. It’s astonishing how easy some of the expert older players make it look playing badminton and I can’t claim to have got to that standard. I’ve played singles badminton in many tournaments and won medals. You do have to run around the court a lot in singles. It’s an absolute epic of backwards and forwards, side to side, and it’s a monumental effort. It feels like the best workout you can get in any sport.
For any LGBT person over fifty, they are probably going to find it easy and comfortable and accepting if they join an LGBT sport club. In London there are clubs across the whole range and all the ones I’ve been involved in have been very welcoming and your age is only and issue for you, not for them. The health benefits must be massive – I’m a very busy, active, energetic person. I cycle a lot – I’ve always cycled to work. All of my activities contribute to retaining my ability to remain active, to play with my children, to run about like an idiot and run for a train or a bus.
To find our other Out and Active Champions, click on their names.
Christopher from Out To Swim
Tammy from London Royals Hockey
Sarah from London Otters Rowing Club
Nash from London Royals Hockey
Sarah from Out To Swim
To find out more about the club click
Gosling London Badminton Club
Champion interviews by Christopher Preston
Design for Out & Active by Laura Salisbury
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