August 11, 2016 by Jo Pike
Thurnby Lodge Primary School’s rise to fame
When special needs coordinator, Nicola Stait, bought a handful of badminton rackets for Thurnby Lodge Primary in 2013, little did she know that they would be County champions by 2016.
A year on from the school’s first experience of badminton, both Nicola and PE coordinator Stef Tattersall accepted an invitation from the Leicester City Community Badminton Network to undertake an initial six weeks coaching for their year 4 students. This proved so popular that coaching for the group continued into year 5. With lunch time badminton sessions being introduced in the school, it was therefore no surprise when the team won the first round of the City Primary School competition in 2014/15. As Nicola pointed out at the time – “It is lovely to see so many children enjoying badminton. I hope many more primary schools will introduce the sport – the ‘take up’ at our school has been so great that I am unable to offer the experience to all those who want to have a go.” At the City Finals in June 2015 the team romped to victory.
At the start of this season a new team of years 4/5 undertook coaching and entered the competition which had been extended to the County Boroughs schools. Again the team started their campaign by winning Round 1 and progressed to the City Final. By now a number of children were playing in junior clubs and others had joined Team Leicestershire’s coaching program at Babington College. In April Thurnby Lodge won the Judgemeadow annual badminton competition, beating previous winners, Medway, on route. In the City Borough Finals, the team were up against previous winners Fosse and perennial finalists Forest Lodge along with Overdale and Woodstock. Once again the Thurnby team triumphed.
The County Final was held on 1 July at Babington College involving Thurnby Lodge (City), Fleckney (Blaby/Harborough); Wigston Academy (Oadby/Wigston), Hugglescote (North West) and Burton on the Wolds (Charnwood). Seeded one, Thurnby Lodge succeeded in getting 3 pairs through to the quarter finals and edged in front in the team competition. When their top two pairs progressed to the semi finals the team competition was won. To round off a great day for the school Thurnby Lodge’s number ones beat their counterparts from Wigston Academy. Final placings: 1st Thurnby Lodge; 2nd Wigston Academy; 3rd Fleckney; 4th Hugglescote; 5th Burton on the Wolds. Prizes for the winners included a supply of new rackets for the school from Badminton England, an invitation to a Sky Sports National Badminton League match at Loughborough University and a day out at the 2017 All England.
Team Leicestershire Developments Officers Carole Spencer and Greg Howes paid tribute to the schools magnificent efforts in providing their students with the opportunity to participate in such an exciting sport. As Nicola concluded, “The children were thrilled to win another tournament (County Final). I am so pleased that all the practice paid off. They have all improved their skills and the tournaments are so motivating. The impact is probably greater than we realise”.