COVENTRY’s Fontaine Chapman is confident the sport can flourish after Team GB’s success this summer, as the new National Badminton League (NBL) season prepares to get underway.
Chris Langridge and Marcus Ellis won the nation’s first Olympic medal since 2004 in the men’s doubles in Rio, and both are set to feature heavily in the NBL’s third year.
English No.1 singles player Chapman was a member of the victorious Birmingham Lions team who won the title last season, and they will host one of two newly established sides, Suffolk Saxons, when the action kicks off next Monday.
And according to the 26-year-old, welcoming new sides into the AJ Bell NBL fold comes at a pivotal time for badminton as they look to boost the sport’s profile in the UK further.
“I think the boys and the rest of the players in Rio doing so well has definitely boosted badminton,” said Chapman, who grew up in Binley.
“Hopefully we can get some bigger crowds into the NBL this season just off the back of them doing so well.
“They’re such great characters as well so people want to come and see them and be part of something that’s a little bit unusual and not your every day tournament.
“I think having the new teams in the NBL this season is really important for the sport, it shows there are more people out there that want to watch badminton and be involved in it.
“We can make sure everybody will get a chance to play; we’ve got more teams which means more matches. I think it’s great for the sport and it’s really important we all get behind the NBL.”
Established in 2014, the NBL is the first ever professional badminton league in the UK, and involves seven franchise teams – including newcomers Suffolk Saxons and Bristol Jets – who compete in monthly match-nights to be crowned champions come the end of the season.
Now in its third year, the league showcases the very best of British badminton, as well as a host of international stars, and world No.85 Chapman insists she can’t wait to get back on the court.
“I’m really looking forward to the start of the new season and getting back into the NBL action,” she added.
“Last season was really good, I had some good wins and some really tough matches that I came through and it was really good to be part of.
“With it being such a short game it’s important to get on top of your opponent straight away and keep that momentum going.
“For the team, it’s really important if we can get a win in the bag in the first match night, it puts you in good stead for the next one.
“We had a really good season last year, one of my favourite moments was all the team being together and lifting the trophy and all the confetti coming down on us and being there as a team.”
The 2016/17 season of the AJ Bell National Badminton League starts on Monday 17 October. For fixtures, tickets and team news, visit: www.nationalbadmintonleague or follow @NBL_official on Twitter