Adrian Christy - CEO, Badminton England Share PDF Print E-mail
Profile of the week


By Tariq Saleh

Adrian has been Chief Executive of Badminton England since 2006 and has led the modernisation and transformation of English badminton through a vision to ‘Consistently develop Olympic Champions and Get the Nation Playing Badminton’. He also leads the GB Olympic badminton programme on behalf of the four home nations.

Adrian is currently leading the exciting project that will see Badminton England relocate to a state of the art, elite and community sports facility and is the driving force behind the establishment of the first professional badminton league in the UK. Adrian is the Chair of a NGB focussed CEO Forum and a member of the MK Sports Board.

Can you tell us about your background and how you came into the role as CEO of Badminton England?

I started out working in local authority sports development teams and quickly set my ambition to one day lead an Olympic sport. I moved on to spend four great years at the National Coaching Foundation before making my first move into a National Governing Body where I joined the LTA. I then moved onto to England Squash and then in 2006 the opportunity to become Chief Executive at Badminton England was presented and I have thoroughly enjoyed every second of my time here.

You’re coming up to 9 years as CEO, what challenges have you faced in your time?

I don't really see them as challenges, more about the opportunities that present themselves to a great role such as this.

That said, if I were to highlight a particular ‘challenge’, it would be managing the breadth of expectations and the subsequent pace in which success can be delivered.

Governing bodies have a wide range of ‘stakeholders’ from Government funding, to members, players, spectators and the demand for immediate impact can be significant.

How have you overcome the challenges and how has the organisation grown under your leadership?

I came in at a time when Badminton England hadn’t had a permanent CEO for a couple of years and the first thing I needed to do was to put in place a clear strategy for the sport that had the ability to galvanize everyone connected with English badminton. That strategy is very simple – Get more people playing more often, consistently win medals and finance badminton.

We have grown enormously. I absolutely respect the traditions and history of our organisation but times have moved on and we have to think more like a business than an ‘association’ and we do that well.

We have established a sound and modernised corporate governance structure, we are seeing record numbers of people playing badminton, we have a very exciting group of players at the top end and some great young talent coming through, we are financially strong, we have an exciting commercial proposition and we consistently innovate; a great example of this is the establishment last year of the first ever professional badminton league in the UK – a made for TV event that is rapidly increasing our profile and delivering great new audiences to our sport both live and on television.


We recently covered the CEO Forum, which you chair, can you tell us about this forum and how it benefits organisations like Badminton England and similar organisations also involved?

The Forum is essentially a ‘voice’ for National Governing Bodies of Sport. We have some great partners around sport but we felt we had a great story was there to be told about the work and value of NGBs that wasn't being talked about.

So 39 NGBs came together to commission The State of Play report which highlights the enormous achievements of NGBs as a collective - we rarely hear about the incredible commitment of 1.9 m volunteers and the £5 billion impact they contribute to the sporting economy every year, there are 1.8 million members of more than 50,000 clubs, we have bid for, and won the right to host, more than 300 European and International Events and we have enabled more than 26,500 competitions in schools.

It really is a great story and we know we couldn't have done this without the support of Sport England, UK Sport, the Youth Sport Trust, the National Lottery and a range of other partners. Our ‘call to action’ is to ensure the investment into NGBs continues and has the ability to grow even further in the future.

What we are also asking is that NGBs have a greater role in developing sports policy. Our ideal is to see a single policy for sport in this country; irrespective of political parties and inter Government departments, where every element of the pathway from school to community to the podium joins up and everyone is clear on their respective responsibilities.

I can only recall this happening once before. The planning and delivery of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games brought the various stakeholders together to achieve a single vision and everyone can be proud of what this country achieved. IT was stunning.

Why can we not have that single vision for school, community and elite sport. The NGBs are committed to making that happen.


What regions is badminton most popular in and are there any specific regions you’d like to see the sport grow globally?

Badminton has a fantastic global appeal; some research I read recently showed it was second only to football as the world’s most participated sport.

Badminton is massive in South East Asia, largely, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Korea and Japan and it has a huge footprint in Europe including England, Denmark, Germany, France, Russia and Netherlands.

It is great to see badminton grow in the Pacific region and we all hope that Rio 2016 will provide an exciting platform in South America.

While there is some great work being done in North America and some exciting emerging talent, this is probably the region where further growth can be developed.

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