Badminton is experiencing renewed popularity in Hay River.

In November, the Town of Hay River started two new programs by offering pickleball and badminton.

“Now badminton has taken over,” said Amanda Tybring, a recreation programming aide with the Town of Hay River. “It’s pretty much just badminton now.”

Amanda Tybring, the recreation programming aide with the Town of Hay River, is overseeing popular badminton sessions offered since November.
Paul Bickford/NNSL photo

Tybring noted that badminton was also offered by the town last year, but mainly young people would show up.

“But now it’s like a mix of all different ages,” she said. “There’s some kids and then there’s some adults of various ages.”

The badminton sessions usually attract about six or more players, and one evening there was a high of 21 participants.

“So I think there is a demand for it,” Tybring said. “People do like badminton.”

She noted that one of the reasons for the popularity of the sport is there used to be a badminton rec league in town until a few years ago.

“Initially I was surprised,” she said of the popularity of the badminton programs. “But talking with other people in the community they did say that there used to be a rec league for it.”

Plus she noted it is played in schools, and some students attend the town sessions for extra practice.

Tybring also said that badminton is a good sport for people wanting something to do during the winter.

“I think honestly it’s the cold weather,” she said. “It’s very cold out, and there’s not a lot of indoor programs for adults and kids that are open to the public. There are rec leagues for other things, but you have to be part of a team.”

The badminton sessions are drop-in.

Tybring also credits some of the sport’s renewed popularity to a couple who are new to the community and enthusiastic badminton players.

They are Kumar Balachandran and his wife, who moved to Hay River about four months ago.

“We’ve always played badminton wherever we’ve lived and we were wanting to play this,” said Balachandran. “So when we came across the notice advertising these sessions we were very keen. We’ve been participating in these games I think almost every week without missing.”

Badminton is an indoor sport that offers a lot of exercise, he noted. “It’s a good sport especially for the winter months when you are kind of forced to do indoor things. So we’ve always found badminton was a good exercise, a good sport to kind of follow through during the winter months.”

Balachandran also noted the wide age range of the players, along with the variety of skill sets.

“Some are beginners and some are very good players and some are kind of middling,” he said. “So it’s a good, interesting mix of different skill sets. And generally people try to play with folks who are at their level or a little better to try to improve their own game. It’s turned out pretty good.”

Balachandran also praised the dedication of Tybring in delivering the badminton program.

The sessions take place twice a week – 6 to 7 p.m. on Mondays at Princess Alexandra School and 6-7 p.m. on Wednesdays at Harry Camsell School.

Tybring noted that the program has three nets, so the participants mostly play doubles and sometimes have to share playing time if a large number show up on a particular evening.

“It’s honestly nice to see because it’s people of all different levels. There are people that had not really played badminton,” she said. “I feel like it’s about more than badminton. It’s people getting active and interacting with other people from the community.”

Paul Bickford

Paul Bickford is the reporter for Hay River Hub.

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