On 6th and 7th August, seventeen of the County's junior badminton players met with a travelling contingent of Chinese players, lead by one of the world's top coaches Qinghua Song.
The visit, organised by the Chinese Students & Scholar Association in Cambridge (CSSA) in conjunction with Daniel Bates, a junior coach based in Cambridge, comprised a fun play session on Thursday afternoon, followed by competitive matches on Friday evening.
Coach Song is a former coach of the Chinese National badminton team, having coached the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Ladies Singles badminton champion Zhang Ning and also the 2008 Olympic champions Du Jing and Yu Lang. Now coaching at a Beijing club, she was accompanied by sixteen of her junior players and coaches on a week's visit to Cambridgeshire to form new badminton relationships, share her experience, and to facilitate competition between players from China and Cambridgeshire.
The local players aged 12-16 and coming from clubs in Cambridge, Littleport and Little Shelford enjoyed playing with and learning from the Chinese squad. The standard was obviously high, and there were many strong and exciting games. The competition evening also saw members of the Cambridge University Badminton Club in attendance.
All players of both teams were awarded certificates signed by Ken Verney (President of Cambridgeshire Badminton Association) and Gan Xu (Sports Director of the Chinese Students & Scholar Association in Cambridge) as well as custom medals to recognise their efforts in the exchange programme, and the British players were given gifts of cards bearing the signature of Lin Dan, the Chinese Olympic and World gold medallist.
Cambridgeshire coach and England Masters player Daniel Bates said: "We are very grateful to Coach Song and her players for visiting Cambridgeshire and spending their time with us. All the players involved have had a really great time playing together and learning so much from each other".
While in Cambridge, the Chinese players also enjoyed spending time touring the City, and also spent a day in London.