Regina’s only dedicated badminton facility is struggling to stay open due to the financial pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We were too small of a business to qualify for any of the Canadian government loans or anything like that,” said CrossCourt co-owner Laurie Ruecker.
The facility’s main source of income comes from drop-ins and leagues, however, both of those activities are restricted under the current public health measures.
CrossCourt is primarily used for badminton, but can also accommodate pickleball and tennis table players. Since December, the facility has only been able to offer junior programming, however, the interest in youth activities has decreased.
“This is the first time in four years that we’ve never had full junior lessons,” Ruecker said.
Regina has gyms that can adapt to badminton courts, but CrossCourt is the only gym built to house badminton permanently.
“We have Olympic style courts, they’re properly cushioned, proper lighting, proper venting,” Ruecker said.
Chris Chen is one of the junior athletes who has continued to train twice a week.
“The field house is set up for everything you can think of, but this is set up specifically for badminton, like the lighting, the height and everything and the courts too,” Chen said.
Chen trains with the high-performance group. This group of athletes is composed of players who compete provincially and nationally in badminton.
Nataly Eng is another junior, she competed at the Canada Winter Games when she was 13 years old.
“I don’t really have a goal right now I’m working towards, so it’s just really hard to push myself and maintaining the level of intensity as normal,” Eng said about the cancellation of competition and tournaments.
Coach Philip Yathon is worried it will be more than just tournaments that are postponed indefinitely.
“It would break my heart if the restrictions were lifted but none of these facilities existed anymore because they’re not getting the income that they need,” Yathon said.
Yathon is also a player who usually competes in leagues. He started a GoFundMe page to try and help CrossCourt through the pandemic.
“If it does close, I think it would be really hard to promote badminton as a sport,” Eng said. “It already isn’t a huge sport, so without this place I feel like a lot of athletes wouldn’t be playing right now.
As of Tuesday evening, the fundraiser had brought in more than $4,000, surpassing its $2,500 goal.