Anna Cheah of Clearwater, left, and Bianca Schmitt of Largo pair up for a pickup game of badminton at Highland Recreation Complex Aug. 23. They played against Schmitt’s 13-year-old son, Toma, and Boon Chong of Tampa.
LARGO – Badminton isn’t a leisurely game for garden parties.
The sport attracts a diversely aged and often international crowd at Highland Recreation Complex when the gym is set up with two 5-foot nets for pickup games three times a week.
“It’s a lot of work,” said Andy Fov, who drives to Largo from Odessa on Saturdays to play.
The game is a great, fast-paced workout, he explained in between games Aug. 23.
“We have a long history here of badminton,” said 73-year-old Tang Kokmin of Clearwater, who’s been playing at Highland for at least 15 years.
Before the new facility was built, the Highland complex used to host tournaments every year, before interest waned. Still, Kokmin contended that outside of the United States, badminton is a hugely popular sport. He hoped to see more interest and coaching invested into its pursuit locally.
“It’s such an international crowd,” Kokmin said. “There are very good badminton players here.”
Beginning Sept. 2, Highland Recreation Complex, at 400 Highland Ave., will host badminton Tuesdays, 6:30 to 9 p.m.; Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and Sundays, 1 to 5 p.m. The cost is $1 for Largo residents and $3 for nonresidents.