Sheila Bird to retire from badminton circles around Launceston after 56 years

RECORDING TIME: Northern Tasmanian badminton stalwart Sheila Bird sits down for the last tournament at the Australasian under-17 championships. Picture: Neil Richardson.

RECORDING TIME: Northern Tasmanian badminton stalwart Sheila Bird sits down for the last tournament at the Australasian under-17 championships. Picture: Neil Richardson.

When Sheila Bird first grabbed her racquet and a shuttlecock, badminton had 29 clubs around Launceston.

“Go back then, mum and dad and the kids at the local hall on Friday nights played badminton,” she says, “but kids are too busy these days.” 

The 73-year-old could recall her daughter cringing playing mum’s every lob and drop shot amid serious competition between the pair.

Now the declining sport is run under the one Northern Tasmanian association and has no surviving clubs. 

Bird was once a part of the Rio badminton club “for a long time” when the now defunct team played out of the Industrial Hall on the former showgrounds site.

“We used to have a game at home, a game away and a game in the Albert Hall every week,” she says.

That was before badminton moved to a brand new Elphin Sports Centre that first brought the game to the people, Bird recalls.

“One time we had an international tournament a long time ago and had players come from all countries in the world,” she says, adding they sold tickets when badminton’s interest piqued. 

But things have changed and after 56 years of involvement, including more than two decades the association secretary has all but “not quite running” tournaments, the Hadspen woman is irrevocably walking away.

“My husband always says you’re never out of that back room, which is where the computer is,” she says. 

“I’ve had such a wonderful time giving back to badminton, which is what you do.”

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