With the completion of the New Zealand badminton National Championships there is no rest for the sport in Auckland as the the Kiwi Cup Masters International Badminton tournament gets underway this Thursday 22nd March running until the finals Sunday 25 March.
What is special about this new tournament is that there are players from worldwide badminton strongholds - China and Malaysia taking part. In fact there are 39 players from Malaysia and 16 from China. Also taking part with be the former world No2 ranked singles player Ong Eue Hock(Malaysia) who is still under 40 years-old and incredibly fit. In total there are 180 entries with New Zealanders making up the bulk of the numbers.
Others players of note to have entered include Kiwi racquet sport legend Richard Purser, dual New Zealand sporting international Phil Horne(cricket and badminton), Kerrin Harrison a medallist at the 1982 Commonwealth Games as well as Li Feng the former Chinese and New Zealand representative.
The tournament is in its inaugural year and is worth around $10k. It is a new Masters International Badminton event which has a new combined ages format. Rather than just 40's players, 50's players enter as a combined age a 90's age group for can have two 45-year-olds or a 35 and 55-year-old.
Badminton in Auckland has approximately 40,000 casual players. Foot traffic through the Auckland Badminton Stadium is approximately 90,000 per year. The growing Asian population will ensure it continues to grow in popularity although the sport is more and more appealing to a range of cultures and groups in the community.
There are over 25 clubs in the Auckland association with a number of projects aiming to take the sport to the community..
The Kiwi Cup tournament is being held Thursday 22nd March, Friday 23rd, Saturday 24th and Sunday 25th March 10am - approx. 6pm every day at Auckland Badminton Stadium Gillies Ave.