Thirty-six years ago it was just an idea, an aspiration, a twinkle in his eye. Yesterday, Sir Craig Reedie CBE admitted he was both honoured and humbled to have his name attached to a famous Scottish badminton facility.
At a special ceremony, the Cockburn Centre was officially renamed the Sir Craig Reedie Badminton Scotland Centre by Councillor Gordon Matheson, leader of Glasgow City Council.
In recent years Reedie has earned prestige as a global sports administrator. A former chairman of the British Olympic Association and one of the driving forces behind London 2012, he is currently serving as president of the World Anti-Doping Agency.
But badminton is his first sporting love. Appointed secretary of the Scottish Badminton Union in 1964, he then went on to become president in 1977. It was around that time that he had a vision to find a base for the sport in Scotland.
In the late 1970s, an old, disused paint factory in the midst of Govan in Glasgow caught his eye. He saw its potential as a ideal badminton hall.
In 1979, the Scottish Badmitnon Union relocated from a tiny office in Frederick Street in Edinburgh to the Cockburn Centre and, helped by grants from the City of Glasgow, it was opened for play in 1980.
Today, after a recent massive refurbishment, the Sir Craig Reedie Badminton Scotland Centre is now home to the sport’s governing body and the four courts act as a warm-up facility for the Scottish Open, provide a base for several clubs and is used by many local schools.
The most recent facelift was possible thanks to a £105,000 grant from Sportscotland, the national agency for sport, and £50,000 from Biffa Award, a multi-million pound fund that helps to build communities and transform lives through awarding grants to community and environmental projects across the UK.
The improvements have resulted in the Sir Craig Reedie Centre being shortlisted for an award in the Recreation category at the Biffa Awards on 9 October at London’s Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich.
“It’s an enormous honour,” said Reedie following the unveiling of the plaque bearing his name. “An old paint factory in Bogmoor Place in Govan didn’t sound as if it had much going for it. But it has helped give the sport in Scotland a great shake.
“One of the most satisfying aspects nowadays is to come back and see it full of young people. It is always a struggle for other sports to offer the same attraction as football.
“So it is great to have a centre for playing badminton – seeing it full of the kids is the name of the game. It is very special. Having a building named after you is a huge honour.”
Reedie, who was the main instigator in having badminton added to the Olympic programme in 1992, retains a keen interest in the sport in Scotland, and applauded the medals won by Kirsty Gilmour, in the singles, and Robert Blair and Imogen Bankier, in the mixed doubles, at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in August.
“We’ve always struggled to have a group of really good players but that’s changing,” he said. “I know there is a lot of work going on with youngsters and the future looks very healthy.”
Anne Smillie, chief executive of Badminton Scotland, started working for the governing body way back in the Edinburgh days. She has also helped transform the sport.
“Everyone knows what Sir Craig has done for badminton over so many years,” she said. “Despite moving on to greater things in sport, he has never lost his love for our great game and naming this community badminton centre after him is a perfect way to reflect what he has done for the people of Glasgow.”
Next month, Badminton Scotland hopes to enjoy a double post-Glasgow 2014 boom. Not only does the Scottish Open Grand Prix take place at the Emirates Arena – Gilmour, Bankier and Blair will be in action from 19-23 November – but Glasgow is also bidding to stage the Sudirman Cup world mixed team championships for a third time in 2017. The decision will be made early next month.