More open-air badminton courts needed to improve S'poreans' game

The news of Denmark emerging as Thomas Cup champions ("Danish delight in Thomas Cup"; last Monday) made me recall the great era of Singapore badminton in the 1950s.

Three consecutive Thomas Cup championships were held in Singapore - in 1952, 1955 and 1958.

Then, we had Wong Peng Soon, nicknamed the "Great Wong", who clinched the All-England Championship title four times; Ong Poh Lim, famous for his "crocodile serve"; and Ismail Marjan.

They were on a par with their Danish counterparts, who included Erland Kops, who was All-England champion seven times, Finn Kobbero and Jorgen Hammergaard Hansen.

Friendly exhibition matches between Singapore and Denmark were played to full houses at the Singapore Badminton Hall.

The Danes have maintained their standard of play since then.

Singapore badminton, however, has been in the doldrums.

Why is this so?

First, the number of indoor courts is limited, and the hours for use limited to before 10pm.

Second, the number of open-air courts is also limited. Additionally, they are usually found in rather windy, unblocked locations, making it hard to control the shuttlecocks and execute any meaningful or purposeful shot.

It is time for more open-air courts to be set up in places which are less windy, or which have high wind screens.

This way, Singaporeans can enjoy and improve their game at any time. There is also less hassle, as there is no need to queue, book or ballot, unlike for indoor courts.

Perhaps then, we can dream of becoming Thomas Cup or All-England champions, and stand proud once again on the badminton scene.

Gan Kok Tiong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 30, 2016, with the headline 'More open-air badminton courts needed to improve S'poreans' game'. Print Edition | Subscribe