Banbridge man ‘delighted’ to take on the top post at Badminton Ireland

Michael with dad Ronnie when members of Alpha Badminton Club were invited to the Mayor's Parlour in Lisburn.
Michael with dad Ronnie when members of Alpha Badminton Club were invited to the Mayor's Parlour in Lisburn.
0
Have your say

Banbridge man Michael Watt says he is delighted to be appointed Chief Executive Officer of Badminton Ireland.

Watt has been holding the post on an interim basis since July and impressed enough to be handed the permanent role earlier this month.

Michael Watt won his first Under 15 cap back in 1979-80 as his budding career began to take shape.

Michael Watt won his first Under 15 cap back in 1979-80 as his budding career began to take shape.

“I’m delighted because badminton is my sport and has been for a lifetime,” he told the ‘LEADER.’

“It’s pretty well run now so I’m not stepping into a failing organisation. Badminton Ireland covers the whole of Ireland so it’s about developing the sport across all four provinces, be it coaching, high performance or running events.”

With the body’s membership now topping 14,000 across Ireland, Michael has some key objectives to improve their sport.

“There are three things we want to achieve,” he said. “Firstly, we want to increase the quality of everything we do. Rather than chasing more events, we want to get better at what we already do.

Michael Watt was proud as punch winning his first senior Ireland cap in the 1985-86 season.

Michael Watt was proud as punch winning his first senior Ireland cap in the 1985-86 season.

“Secondly, we want to communicate better. We do a lot but we’re not good at telling the badminton public what we are doing.

“And thirdly, we want to increase grassroots activity. We concentrate on schools and getting the players involved in clubs.

“That’s where our participation is going to come from.”

If hard work is what the role requires, it seems a definite that they have the right man. Michael also runs his own business in Banbridge and is chairman of the Banbridge District Sports Association.

Michael Watt at full stretch

Michael Watt at full stretch

“These last six months have been a blur,” he said. “I’m down in Dublin two days a week, working away with Badminton Ireland while running my business on top of it. Thankfully my children are a bit older now and I have that flexibility. If you want to do it, you have to put the hard work in.”

And on top of all that, he still makes time to brush up on his on-court skills.

“I’m still able to beat a few young guys so that keeps my eye in,” he laughed. “You need that. You can’t just be talking about badminton, you have to be out there too. We also run our own club in Gilford Community Centre on Friday evenings so that keeps me involved.”

The Board of Badminton Ireland said on their website that they were “delighted to be able to make this appointment.

“They say that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and this is definitely true in Michael’s case,” continued their statement, “his father is a household name in Ireland as a coach and mentor and we would like to wish Ronnie and his wife Jean well – both of them will be very proud.

“Michael has a truly exceptional blend of badminton and business experience that will help to lead our organisation to new levels.

“He has represented Ireland many times on the international stage and holds (at least) 10 Irish National Singles Titles. He has also successfully held a number of administrative positions over the years including Irish Team Manager, National Squads’ Leader and as a member of the High Performance team.”