Gail Dumont is quick to share her secret on the badminton court.
“Badminton is just a good way to get out and exercise, and you don’t think you’re exercising,” said Dumont, president of the Sooke Badminton Club.
Dumont, 73, started playing the sport at nine years old in Oak Bay. She played competitively, and when she married in 1965 and moved to Sooke, she joined the local club. She also coaches the EMCS badminton team.
“It’s a good game and you continue it throughout your life,” she said, adding badminton is an intense workout that requires agility, strategy and excellent hand-eye co-ordination.
Dumont is one of about 20 athletes who play with the Sooke Badminton Club every Tuesday night at Journey Middle School. Avid players whack birdies from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. New members are welcome.
The club started in 1936 with play at Woodsyde Farm and the Sooke Community Hall before finding a home at Journey.
Badminton is taking off across the province, said Lisa Davison, communications officer for Badminton B.C.
“B.C. is continuing to see a rise in participation, but in other provinces, particularly Ontario, it’s really growing,” she said.
The official game is far from the backyard version, with players from youth to seniors playing competitively in tournaments across the country and internationally.
The sport continues to grow, Davison explained, as Badminton B.C. offers more player development programs, and encouraging everyone to join.
“It’s finding out what people want and delivering it,” Davison said.
Dumont said the Sooke Badminton Club is always looking for new members – with all levels of playing experience. She pointed out the club has a cross-section of players from beginner to elite.
New members are often paired with more experienced players to learn intricacies of the game.
“It’s a learning process,” Dumont said. “When your learning to play badminton you just want to be able to hit the [shuttlecock]. You don’t get bored playing it.”