A BADMINTON England initiative to get more youngsters playing the game competitively has proved to be a big success.

The East Lancashire Junior Badminton League is now in its second season – and young players are thrilled to have been able to get in on the action.

The aim of the league is to target those players who don’t play for Lancashire or are not on high performance programmes.

And following the inaugural season, which was run by Badminton England, the league has seen a significant increase in popularity.

It is now run locally and secretary, Sharon de Maine, is delighted to be able to give youngsters the chance to play.

“Badminton England started a similar scheme in Manchester a few years ago and approached us to start a league in the East Lancashire area,” said Sharon who is also secretary of Colne Badminton Club.

“I think it is a great idea because there are a lot of youngsters who want to play competitively but haven’t had the chance.

“This is aimed at those players just below county standard. The whole aim is to get more youngsters involved in badminton and then hopefully go on and play for their local club at senior level.”

The East Lancashire Junior Badminton League holds five competitions a year - all held at Hyndburn Leisure Centre - but all the results are collated and added to a league table. The league has just finished its third competition with two more to come in May and June. Currently matches have been played on four courts over four hours but, due to an increase in demand, the next competition to be held on eight courts.

“It is great to see it getting more popular,” added Sharon. “That is exactly what we are trying to achieve.”

The third meeting this year included teams from Blackburn, Bolton, Colne, Rossendale and Skipton who competed in two age groups, under 16s and under 14s.

More than 40 young players took part on the day with the results have been added to the league tables Player of the Day awards went to Molly Barton and Daniel Arnott in the under 16s and Alex Lewis and Tom Curtis in the under 14s.

The next league meeting is on May 18 and for more details about the league contact to Sharon de Maine on eastlancsjunior league@gma il.com