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Club gives badminton boost with local games

The stories of what keeps locals loving the Las Vegas Badminton Club are endless.

For one woman, the sport helped her lose nearly 40 pounds. Another club member lost weight — and his diabetes. The club allowed one 75-year-old to rejoin his favorite game after 40 years without it.

The club is seeing more and more players since it started in 2000. Played at a few locations across the valley, games are open to the public. The fee is $2 at most sites.

“Height doesn’t matter. Weight doesn’t matter. Gender doesn’t matter,” club founder and president Don Bolwaire said of the game. “People from all different countries come.”

He called the game “civilized,” where one would be hard-pressed to hear any utterance of a foul word.

The club’s only problem: not enough badminton.

Bolwaire searches for community centers to allow the sport in their gym s’ schedules, providing them with information on all the equipment needed. It costs the club less than $200 to buy the nets and supplies, while players provide their own rackets and pay the center for each game.

“At the core, what it amounts to is taking anything I can get,” Bolwaire said of searching for more space to add to the current locations. “We just don’t have enough courts.”

The club allows only people 16 or older to participate and plays single matches instead of the game’s usual triple-headers to accommodate more people.

While other organizations are starting to host more games and events, Bolwaire said there wasn’t anything in town when he first started the club, and access is still pretty limited.

Malcolm Poon, a 75-year-old retired surgeon, played a similar game called squash until the club began 11 years ago.

He said he fell in love with badminton when he started playing in Hong Kong at age 13.

“About 40 years ago, when I came to this country, no one was playing. So I stopped,” he said.

Now, he relives his childhood pastime twice a week at the Mirabelli Community Center, 6200 Hargrove Ave.

Poon said the club is well-liked because it allows people of all skill levels and ages to play the game.

Dave Xu, a 47-year-old from China, said he likes the wholesome environment.

“A lot of my co-workers, after work, they go gamble or do other things that are bad,” Xu said. “But we have this. It’s a great community, exercise and fun.”

The friendly atmosphere doesn’t keep the game, which can see shuttlecocks moving up to 200 mph, from getting competitive, the club’s players said.

“They’re out to beat each other,” Bolwaire said. “There’s no question about that. But it’s done with laughs and teasing.”

Visit lasvegasbadminton.com or call 855-0479 for a summer schedule or more information.

Contact Southwest and Spring Valley View reporter Jessica Fryman at jfryman@viewnews.com or 380-4535.

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