Some things run in our blood so deep that when you try to express them, words just don’t come so easily. It is funny because it seems that it should be quite the opposite, but this time it just isn’t. My best guess is that words, at least until now, weren’t necessary. In this article I will make an introduction, about one of my life’s great loves, about a sport I feel deeply connected to and feel truly at home: badminton.

My absolutely shortened* entire history

Our childhood memories are a blur. We say that we remember some things and we do, but for me those are mostly just shining moments – either good or bad. Good then become something that drives us forward and we like to revisit them in our heads, the bad can become traumas. I think that I was 3 years old when I was first given a badminton racquet. It was from a cheap set of two racquets, of course, for the beginners to try it out at a picnic or in the backyard to hit the shuttlecock (yes, that is the name of the badminton „ball“) over the clothesline. My mother and I used to play badminton all the time, it was our favourite outdoor pass time. Our goal was to try and hit it hundred times before the shuttlecock would fall to the ground. I remember that we managed to do that real quick and then the goal was expanded to thousand hits without the shuttlecock falling down. It is cheesy to say it but the rest is kinda history.

I tried to find some old (family) photos of me holding a badminton racquet but this is all I could find. I started training tennis because there was no badminton club in Varaždin? Or at least we didn't know about it. Racquet is a racquet but I never liked tennis so much as I liked badminton

Fast forward, we got a badminton club (BC) in Varaždin, my hometown. The name of the club was ‘Kaj‘ which actually means ‘what‘ in Croatian, in the kajkavian dialect from the northern Croatia.

„Kaj buš danas delal? Pa igral badminton, naravno.“ – Croatian

„What will you do today? I will play badminton, of course.“ – English translation

I can’t remember clearly and I could be mistaken but I think I was around 10 years (I was born in summer of 1990.) old when I started to play badminton in a club. I don’t have to say it but it is a game/life changer and you can forget the clothesline and counting hits and passing the ball to the other player. I don’t know where are our coaches today but I remember their names (mr. Prstec and mr. Škoda). Going down the memory lane, I remember I „lost“ my first club tournament, finishing only second.

The ceremony after the first tournament ever

I think I was good for a kid but not as good as Miro who was actually a football player. He was smaller than me but way more athletic. Just recently I’ve seen Miro playing football at the sports center where we play badminton in Varaždin. We are now grown-up men, slowly getting into the years when we need to be more careful what and when we eat, we need to get enough exercise and try not to get injured. Everyone has their struggles but Miro has grown bigger. We all tend to but it is kinda weird to see people who were so fit and athletic developing a „dad“ body. I am fighting real hard to get thinner but all that beer is taking it’s toll :D When I’m already mentioning people I met at those early badminton days, I should probably just mention my friend and badminton partner Suzana whom I sometimes bring back to badminton – she has also an ups and downs relationship with badminton, but she is way more successful than me. It amuses me when all those people in Varaždin tremble at the mere mention of her name. By the way, I can thank badminton for developing my reflexes and more confident stance. Before I was training badminton I remember being clumsy in football and basketball during physical education (P.E.) in school. I was a classic nerd and that has maybe changed in body but not in the mind.

Our trainer, mr. Škoda giving me my first badminton diploma. You can see Suzana in the back (girl in the pink sweater)

Being a boy who becomes a teenager, I was progressively getting interested in music (drums), girls, going out and being popular in general (yeah, yeah, I know. That long haired rocker would probably deny the popularity part but we all knew that we wanted to have attention of other people, being loved by others, having success with the other sex – those are crucial, important years). I admit it, the nerd was lost to me in that moment. Too much and too early, reading about our educational system, well, system in general, I started hating school and didn’t know why do I have to be there and waste my time which could be spent playing drums in a rock band. So, badminton was also lost in this chaos. My love was never gone, I just started, unknowingly, experiencing the eternal problem of a busy and ambitious man of many interests – there is not enough time and if you want to be really good at something, you need to immerse yourself in it.

The photos are very vague unfortunately but this should be a tournament in Čakovec, also from early days of badminton

In the meantime, BC Kaj transformed into Marlex, at least I think. I started to play badminton again in college, as a part of my obligatory P.E. – first two years you have to be smart and train something, then for the other three or more college years they leave you to be just smart… and fat. There I met Filip who nowadays leads one of the biggest clubs in Croatia and organizes ADA league held in Bosnia, Croatia, Serbia and Slovenia. I was playing in Marlex for a little while and then I stopped again.

Happens every time

Badminton is a fun sport and many remember playing it as kids in the backyard. That is the reason why many people wanted to try it out on the real court so I spent some time „coaching“ others. You wouldn’t believe it, but fair amount of people asked me if they could play, being interested in some easy form of much needed physical activity. This being a subjective post about my relationship with badminton, I will cover the theory in another article, but the people’s surprise is vast when they realize what kind of sport badminton really is. The people’s expectations of a laid-back and easygoing sport and the reality are two different, light years apart, worlds. It is like expecting Fortnite and ending up soaked in blood and sweat inside the world of Hunt: Showdown. Anyway, as a professor, I find myself also at home in teaching others how to play and I enjoy it very much.

At the humanitarian tourney, a couple of years ago, I found myself as a judge and also commentator of the games, as it was an amateur tournament

There is a difference between those who aim for the top and those who’ll settle… and that difference matters.“ – Toshinori Yagi, a.k.a. All Might

Today I have almost 33 years. Thirty years have passed from my first swing with a badminton racquet. Life and work have led me back to Zagreb, capital of Croatia but also a city that swarms with badminton. It could be said that here is the action. I am currently training ardently in BC Concordia, losing weight at a decent pace, advancing my fitness and my gameplay. We are also actively participating in various tournaments, mostly ADA league and local tournaments. Most importantly, I am feeling great and strong. That feeling of being able and willing to play badminton not only for 2-3 hours per training but even 5, that is an unbelievable feeling which hasn’t left me during all of these years I was unfaithful to badminton. Everytime I return, I feel this desire burning inside of me. This happiness and bliss which make me being outside myself and brings me closer to the „zone“. But let’s stop here for now, until the next post in which there will be more theory about badminton.

p.s. – shoutout to all of my friends with whom I play badminton today and who make me grow: Klepač, Ines, Sanja, Suzana, the whole Varaždin crew, my dear club colleague and brother from another mother Vince (the C category is ours real soon!) and all the others from Concordia. I can hardly wait to see you on the court!

About the Author: Borna

Borna is a student of philosophy. He loves mountains, books, and video games and is in possession of a pretty awesome LEGO collection. Listens to music almost all the time but also likes the silence. You will probably find him reading a book, roaming the mountains of RL, or trying to bring home bounty in the vast swamps of Bayou.
One Comment
  1. Adrian February 9, 2023 at 7:50 pm - Reply

    Great story! Continue, please. :-)

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