Proud coach Clarke hopes Suffolk Saxons’ enthralling first season in National Badminton League will attract new players to Ipswich-based franchise next season
A dazzling debut season in the National Badminton League could prove to be the making of Suffolk Saxons in the years to come.
Despite missing out on a place in the end-of-term final after a 4-1 defeat to Nottingham in Ipswich on Monday, head coach Anthony Clarke hopes the excitement generated by his brand new franchise this season will draw in new players.
The Saxons finished fifth in the seven-team league having gone into their last match with a chance of making the top two playoff for the title, but Clarke feels the way the team has burst onto the team badminton scene has won them many admirers.
“So many people have said so many nice things about our franchise and how it’s blossomed and made the NBL what it is this year,” he said.
“We’ve had people from Badminton England here saying how wonderful a job everyone at Suffolk Saxons has done and how they’ve really lit it all up. What a wonderful thing to hear.”
Although admitting he wanted “to win the thing” (you would expect nothing else from a professional athlete of 16 years), Clarke was justifiably proud of what his players have accomplished this season.
“They’re the newest franchise in the league, we’ve set the standard really in terms of what the crowd can do, how involved the players get with the fans that come. When people come here they’re in awe of how we’ve run things, so I’m incredibly proud of everybody involved.”
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Clarke also said despite being gutted at not making the final, in the coming weeks he would realise that “realistically, with the team we have, where we finished in the league is pretty good”.
And his thoughts have already turned to the 2017/18 season.
He said: “It will become apparent in the next few weeks what players have been able to be retained at the clubs they’re currently at so we’ll find out what players we can’t even negotiate with if we wanted to bring in anybody new.”
Clarke added: “I think there will be players around the NBL who will want to be part of our team. I think perhaps I’m going to get a few phone calls and a few emails to say ‘I’d love to be a Saxons player, have you got any space?’ and that’s what we want.”