The club is the gathering point


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First released in September 2017

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On Saturday morning, the 9th of September 2017, I was sitting at work, another 48 hour shift, eating freshly baked buns, drinking coffee and reading the Weekend newspaper.

Due to the 48 hour shift, I had to pass on the first team match of the season, and for the same reason during the week had not received the usual text message from my team manager about the team, the lineup and the meeting time.

Wednesday night at the last training before the team match I was thankfully present and heard head coach Lejre’s uplifting and authentic motivational pep talk. A well-established tradition. A good tradition. Even though he’s interrupting us in our English double every time and we’re standing there and shuffling our feet in anticipation to get back to it. It doesn’t matter, you’re forgiven because of your commitment.

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There is one calm

And it depends on

That you are faithful

To what you believe in

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I have a hard time not being a participant in the team matches. 

In my world, the community, the team and its competitions are the very essence, the magic cube, of a club. The team matches are the ultimate gathering point. It is the rationale for being in a club and being a club. That is why we train together week after week. Even when we sometimes feel like sitting on the couch at home after a long day with children, home work, work, shopping, cooking, laundry, transport, talking, problem solving, hugging and maybe a short nap. 

When we get off of the couch in spite of this, it is, at least in my case, naturally because of the desire for badminton, but especially the commitment to the team community. We are a team where every individual, every player, every person is important. If one or more prioritise differently, then we cannot put out the best team, or perhaps a full team, and then it falls apart, then it cracks, then the notion of the team as a unified unit dissolves.

One for all and all for one.

For that same reason, I do not understand those who do not want to play matches, but just want to attend training. In my world view it expresses an attitude where one takes what one wants but doesn’t give back. With that attitude, you stay outside the community, you stay on the sidelines and watch. You enjoy. And provide less. You take what you want off of the shelves but don’t fill back up.

That is not how we are brought up in our Protestant world, in our little Scandinavian country.

That is why I always find it so difficult when my work comes in the way of team matches. I feel like I’m failing the community and my fellow players and friends. And if there’s anything in my world that I find hard to overcome, it’s to let others down.

In my world, you give before you enjoy. In my world, you give, even if you don’t feel like it. After all, we can’t always do what we “want” to do. What a world that would be. Sat at the top.

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The community is under pressure. 

At least in some places. Because of individualization and selfishness, because of flexibility demands, because of lack of support, because of “pay and play”, because of “the fitness center mindset” (exercise when YOU want and have time), because of being in the outskirts, in the form of a decline in the number of players out here in the thinner populated areas. And many other things.

The community does not come by itself. 

It’s not just there. It doesn’t fall from a blue or gray sky. The community must be cultivated, cared for, nursed, fertilized, watered and prioritized. It needs constant attention, especially in our day. And fed new blood. And energy. And we all have to contribute something. Contribute what we each can. And not always when we have the “desire” to, but also when we don’t.

The community is, to me, proximity to each other. 

Interest in each other. Obligation. Responsibility. Care. Consideration. Attention. A base from which my world sprouts. Without the community, I would be rootless and just float around. Community is family, friends, workplace, school, club.

When the community deteriorates, fellow human beings become people, individuals, competitors in the struggle for goods, in the struggle to enjoy. We become more indifferent to each other. Then it’s about getting out first or in first, getting in front of the line, getting the first and biggest piece.

In my world, the team and the community are, as I said, the core product of the club. We meet weekly and train together. Talking and exchanging. Relating to one another. Recognising each other.

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Maybe that’s why I feel so ambivalent about the Badminton League, where countless players are transported to or flown in, playing and then flying back home. Where is the community? Where is the affiliation? Am I just a hopeless, old, outdated nostalgic? Didn’t even I play as a resident of Denmark in France between 1998-2007? Am I also a hypocrite? Well …. my counter-argument is that I had actually lived in that city in France two times, that I didn’t receive payment but was kept expenditure-neutral only, and that I remained in the same club and formed almost unbreakable friendships that still exist today.

The concept of purchasing and flying in/transporting players from here and there to team matches contradicts my conception of community. Contradicts the foundation of the Danish badminton culture. A culture that builds upon community through thick and thin. A community where everyone provides and enjoys.

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Community provides connection. 

A bond. We meet because we have somthing in common. We come from different worlds, economically, culturally, socially and sometimes also nationally, and become somewhat similar in the way we perform, in the way we think, in the way we play , in the way we dress. We meet, talk, have fun together, compete, evolve, get to know each other.

A club in that understanding is a gathering point. An exchange point. An equalization point.

Hopefully also a place where multiple generations meet and socialise and have fun together. Preferably also get changed together. Are naked together in the most natural and typical Danish way.

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Back to the opening matches of the 2017-2018 season. 

VBK (Vordingborg Badminton Klub) Team I and II in the 5th division/level and 8th division/level both won 8-5. The first team match could have ended in a defeat. Three singles and three doubles were won in three close sets. Debut for Amalie, the fourth player under 20. Unheard of. Totally damaging for the former record-high average age. I think the home court advantage helped here. Just the crucial little benefit. Our old gym, The Dome, can be very difficult to play in. It’s large and the baseline can be hard to find. It’s noisy with an airy, echo-boosting sound that makes even the softest smash and the smallest peep from the bench sound loud.

It is our almost impenetrable fort. It’s my second home. After leaving Kolding (and Kolding Badminton Klub) and the old round gym from 1937 on Østerbrogade in 1994 I have not had a real home court. I have now. Again. In Vordingborg. 

Thanks for the victories, badminton friends at VBK.

Per Damkjær Juhl

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