Suffolk Saxons to bring professional badminton to the county

The AJ Bell League has games shown on Sky Sports

The AJ Bell League has games shown on Sky Sports - Credit: Archant

Suffolk is to get another professional sports team – the Suffolk Saxons badminton squad.

The Saxons will join the Bristol Jets as the two new teams who will compete with the existing franchises from around the country in the AJ Bell National Badminton League (NBL) for the 2016/17 season.

Games in the league are shown on Sky Sports, with more than 70,000 people watching matches on TV in the league’s first season, in 2014.

The Saxons, managed by Abbeycroft Leisure, will be supported by a number of organisations including Suffolk County Council, Ipswich Borough Council, Suffolk Sport and Suffolk Badminton Association.

Warren Smyth from Abbeycroft Leisure said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for the people of Suffolk to see some of the best badminton players in the world and is the result of the hard work of a number of partners.

“I am really looking forward to seeing the team in action next season and I am sure that Suffolk will welcome them with open arms and create an exciting atmosphere at each of their matches.

“This is an exciting time for sport in Suffolk and the addition of the Saxons will help inspire others to take up the sport and get active.”

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Councillor Tony Goldson, Suffolk County Council’s Cabinet Member for Health said: “In the last two weeks it has been announced that the world’s best female cyclists will be coming back to the county for the third year running for the Women’s Tour, Olympic medallist Keri-Anne Payne has launched the 2016 Great East Swim and now Suffolk is to be part of the first-ever professional national badminton league in the UK.

“Together they cement Suffolk’s growing reputation as a location of choice for major sporting events.

“This in turn brings economic benefits to the county, as it is showcased on the national and international stage, as well as providing a wonderful opportunity to engage more people in sport and physical activity and support our ambition of becoming the most active county in England.

“Badminton, particularly, is a sport that anybody can play, whatever their level, and I’m really pleased that a badminton development programme aimed at getting more people playing the sport will be wrapped around the Suffolk Saxons team.”

Adrian Christy, Chief Executive of Badminton England, the National Governing Body behind the AJ Bell NBL, said: “We are delighted that the expansion of the AJ Bell NBL continues and welcome Suffolk Saxons to the UK’s first ever professional national badminton league.

“The growth of the AJ Bell NBL is a key part of our long-term plan but specifically into parts of the country where we know the demand for badminton is high.

“The East of England is an area where our sport is hugely popular and we very much look forward to the Saxons playing a pivotal role in our ambitions to continue to increase the number of people playing badminton as well as those who love to follow the sport.

“The Suffolk Saxons’ passion and enthusiasm is consistent with all those currently involved in this fantastic league and we are confident that next season the AJ Bell NBL will be better than ever as it continues to grow and attract new fans from all over the country and beyond.”

Why has the team been called ‘Suffolk Saxons’?

The name Suffolk Saxons – and the team’s logo – pays tribute to Suffolk’s unique place in the evolution of Anglo Saxon Britain and our Anglo-Saxon forefathers.

1,400 years ago, a king or great warrior of East Anglia was laid to rest in a 90ft ship at Sutton Hoo in Suffolk, surrounded by his extraordinary treasures.

In the spring of 1939 his grave became one of the greatest archaeological discoveries in British history, redefining our understanding of the period known as the Dark Ages.

It is widely believed that the man who belonged to this grave is King Raedwald, a great King of East Anglia. Raedwald is renowned for becoming a Bretwalda - the High King of all the Saxon Kingdoms and one of the first Saxon Kings to convert to Christianity.

n An official launch of the Suffolk Saxons will take place in mid-March when more information including home venues, coach and early sponsors will be revealed.

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