General

Torsten Berg, Poul-Erik Høyer, Gregory Verpoorten and Tom Bacher
President: So long my President and Mentor
Date: 10/9/2017 1:48 PM
Published by : Gregory Verpoorten
Dear Badminton Friends,

It is with great sadness that I was informed last week that one of Badminton's greatest has passed away. Tom Bacher was the first President of BEC under whom I served when I came into the Council back in 2007. It was Tom who introduced true professionalism in our organization. Without substantial support of the BWF but with an intense belief in the assets of Badminton Europe, he built out our office with a team of young enthusiasts who then started to serve our Member Associations in a much more collaborative and efficient way compared to what was humanly possible before.

Tom rejuvenated his Council and set out a strategic course towards monetizing our assets for the benefit of the game. He understood the need for our organization to have a strong financial backbone and independence from funding partners. That is the only way for the organization to be an important and strategic stakeholder in the badminton and sports landscape and have any meaning.

Tom's arrival at Badminton Europe was during a time of increasing conflict, at BWF level as well as in Europe. It was Tom's strong hand and strategic leadership combined with an incredible strength and experience in chairing meetings and having the hard conversations that prepared Badminton Europe for a great future. I personally learned a lot from him and received unconditional support to build out our development activities and my own contributions to the game.

It was Tom and his Badminton Europe that formed an alliance with some key friends around the globe at a time of great controversy at our world body between 2006-2009. Tom was the political heavy weight and he had the tough high level conversations but he smartly built a very active campaign team around him in which everyone played their important part to overturn the governance of BWF at a crucial moment. As a result, the elections of 2009 brought a new team in the lead of BWF which laid the foundation of the organization's success today.

There are many people who know much more about Tom's successes before he took the helm of Badminton Europe. I will not dwell on these successes but they too were instrumental to our sport. For me, Tom showed me the righteous way of leading a sports federation. He did not pursue any personal ambition. Tom was there for Badminton and righted many wrongs. He was my inspiration and the reason that I am your President today. Surely Tom was at times a controversial leader. But a true leader should be in a way. There were things he could have done better here and there. But these were unimportant in the context of the higher purpose, doing right by our sport.

True, Tom sometimes told us to "hold our horses", interrupted some meetings to talk to me and others outside the room to coach us on some view points we challenged or stated at times to harshly. He built bridges where they were needed. Tom pushed many unfinished plans back to the "drawing board". He used his hearing aid strategically when he wasn't interested in some of the long winded discussions on updating "less" important regulations. Tom could reach a consensus and conclusion out of serious differences of opinion. What a talent that is.

Tom wasn't all about work and no play. He learned us to have fun doing what we do. That was important so everyone would come back the next meeting to continue our contributions. We all are still volunteers and we spend our free time together to work for a common goal. He understood the benefit of the fun element as no other.

I can go on and on about Tom, but I know that he would then tell me to "calm down" and "keep it short and to the point".

Tom, you will be missed. Your dedication and loyalty to our sport was beyond compare. You are one of our sport's greatest and we will always remember you in that way.

So long my President and Mentor, with a capital M.

Gregory
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