Player Profile: Carl Billington

The new courts where the Sydney Badminton Players relocated in August 2016

I had to chase Carl down for this interview. He’s in the middle of running a vibrant Monday night badminton session for Sydney Badminton Players (pictured above). When he’s not running an IT company or a social session, he’s spending time with his young family. In this candid interview he shares his experiences and says it how it is.

How did the Sydney Badminton Players group start? I was playing badminton with a group of friends but they weren’t that keen. It’s just that I was forcing them to play. So I established a Facebook group and people started joining, so then we used to play at the Sydney Uni Arena. But then we got too big for it and ended up at Waterloo.

What are the highs and lows of organising? Organising has its pros and cons. The pros of it is…you get to meet a lot of people. I don’t consider myself a good player by all means but lots of good players recognise me and see me on facebook and that’s great. The cons of it is…it takes over your life a bit. So for example, if I can’t make a social session I need to find a replacement and try to organise someone to be there and make sure they know how to open and close and everything else. So it can be quite grilling. Also it’s a big group and I’m playing with so many different types of players all the time that it helps with improving my game. And it keeps things interesting.

When did you start playing badminton? About 3 years ago when I moved to Sydney. I’m from England, Manchester.

Tell me about your last competition: It was the Gosen NSW Open competition. I played D grade men’s singles and doubles. I was in the semis for the singles and we got knocked out in three rounds for doubles. In the lower grades you can get some excellent players and you think, “you’re not that grade!”

What’s your preferred style of play? I prefer singles than doubles and I’m very competitive so I’ll try to move them around to beat my opponent properly. Doubles is very different because you need different skills to do it properly. That’s why I always play with Dan: we train together and we really want it to work and he knows where I move and I know where he moves. I’m not a massive fan of the big smashing game. It doesn’t matter that my smash sucks [laughs]

Which three words describe you? “Very hard working.” Carl (left) has gained widespread respect in Sydney for creating a badminton community with people from around the world. He and Dan Salamati (right) are a competitive doubles pair.

What’s your most reliable shot? Most definitely the drop.

Have you ever hit somebody with a racket? No, but I’ve been hit with a racket several times. Mostly by Dan. He’s like on speed when he plays, too all over the place so I try to calm him down a little

Have you ever been intimidated by a small person? Yes, 100%. I’m a giant so when I play against state juniors, they are so small and I’m thinking, “everyone in this whole place is watching this game”. Because it’s like the friendly giant versus the little boy. I don’t like it

If you could have an endless supply of food, what would you have? Ooh sausages and mash. I’m obsessed with it, I could eat bucket loads of it. It’s very English

If you could have one wish granted, what would it be? To have more wishes

If you could trade places with one person for a day, who would you be? My wife because she talks about working really hard and I want to know what happens during a day in her life and go “oh, it’s not hard!” Or take it back and go “wow, you really do work hard”.

What life advice would you give your 20 year-old self? Don’t ever get caught up with one girl, especially when you’re young. Guys get obsessed with girls and nothing else matters. Just don’t give up your whole life. I remember seeing a lot of my friends do that. Something happens to them. As soon as they have a girlfriend, never see them again. I think, “why would you do that to yourself?” When you’ve got a girl that’s fantastic but what if things don’t work out? You don’t have any friends.

How do you feel about about playing mixed doubles with your wife? Totally love to, it’s just that she has no hand-eye coordination. Totally none. I’ve sent her for training and the coach is like nup. Some people just don’t have hand-eye co-ordination. But she definitely does have strengths. She’s a very good wife [expressively nods]

Is there anything you want to add for people who are thinking about joining Sydney Badminton Players? Never turn into that player who only plays with their own level or friends. You go to a social session to be social, you play with people that you don’t usually play with. Never turn into that sort of person.

Note: The social sessions run on Monday and Wednesday 7-10pm and Saturday 10-1pm at 44 O’Dea Avenue, Waterloo. Just remember to RSVP on Meetup.




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