“All in for your club”
Date: 5/17/2013 3:06 PM
Published by : Manuel Røsler

The memories of playing for and being successful as part of a club are some of the special moments that stay with you for the rest of your life no matter how successful you become on the international scene.

No matter what the sport the ‘club’ has been the core and heart of many villages, towns and cities across the continent. It is the ‘club’ where it all starts, where the foundations for any elite sporting career is nurtured and it is the ‘club’ where lifelong friendships are made.

After a long season both at International and domestic level the elite Badminton clubs of Europe make the trip to Beauvais in France. From the 28th May to 1st June, they will collectively fight it out for the most prestigious title in European club badminton and with it the bragging rights associated with the title of European Club Champions.

As expected both Russia and Denmark have dominated the competition in the past and on paper Danish champions TSS (Team Skælskør-Slagelse) and defending champions Primorye Vladivostok are once again the teams to beat but with 19 teams entered for the event who are the likely protagonists that can bring the fight to the big two? Let’s take a look at the four groups and get the verdict from TSS top singles and world number 16 Hans-Kristian Vittinghus (pictured) who ranks playing for and representing his club as a major part of his season.

“It's a great honour to represent my club at both national and European level. There's huge competition in Denmark, so to be leading a team from a city of only 7.000 inhabitants to this stage makes me feel proud. They are doing such a great job to make all of it possible and I always take this feeling with me on court.” Hans-Kristian Vittinghus

Vladivostok = Russian National Team

Group 1 justifiably has defending champions Primorye Vladivostok as top seed and with a team line up including Olympic bronze medallists Sorokina & Vislova on board the Russians have all the doubles disciplines covered. Add in the singles talents of Vladimir Ivanov and Anastasia Prokopenko and the Russians have so much strength in depth that most national teams would envy.

Turkish side Egospor will offer some form of opposition to the Russians from a female perspective posing a selection headache for the Turkish management. If the Turks are to succeed in Beauvais they will need a huge effort from their men to complement their ladies and take the fight to the Russians.

Irish side Alpha BC and BC Saive from Belgium will be battling it out for the minor places in the group with both having the individual capacity to win the odd point from their more illustrious group opposition.

The Vittinghus Verdict – “Vladivostok essentially equals the Russian National Team, so this is a no-brainer. I see Egospor with a slight edge for second, but it's a close call.”

Some Unfinished Business to Take Care of

Group two is all about Danish National Champions TSS. The Danes came through arguably the toughest league in European Badminton and couple that with a sense of unfinished business from last year’s final the Danes will come to Beauvais with a point to prove. Is there anyone to trouble the Danish champions in group two? On Paper it is a fight for the second qualification spot and heading the betting will be Polish outfit Bialystok who have a well-balanced squad albeit without any big stars.

Chomping at the Polish heels will be Pablo Abain’s Spanish outfit Recreativo Les La Orden and Swiss club Argovia lead by the ever youthful Andrew Dabeka. Icelandic outfit TBR will takes points here and there and will look to cause an upset in this five team group.

The Vittinghus Verdict –  “TSS to win the group. Bialystok's strength in ladies will see them through as well. Very close with the Spaniards though and even Team Argovia is in with a fighting chance.”

The preview and verdicts for Group 3 and 4 will be published tomorrow.

Click here for the draw and schedule of the 2013 European Club Championships.

Please us #ECC13 for tweets concerning the event in Beauvais.

Article by Mark Phelan, Photo by BadmintonPhoto.

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