Nathan Robertson and Gail Emms used to be England's top mixed doubles pair. - Filepic
GLASGOW: England’s Olympic Games silver medallist Nathan Roberston likes to be different and add some colour to badminton to make the game more exciting.
That probably explains why the 37-year-old trendsetter took up the coaching job with Jersey for the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.
It was quite weird seeing him sitting behind Jersey when they took on his home team England in one of the Group F ties at Emirates Arena.
England defeated Jersey 5-0 and, for Robertson, “it was all just good fun”.
“My best friend, Mark Constable, who is in the Jersey team, asked me for a favour and I jumped at it. It is only a two-week commitment,” said Nathan, who quit the England team last year.
“The players in Jersey are all amateurs. They are full-time workers who only train in the evenings. It was strange to be up against England for once.”
While the Jersey stint is only temporary, Robertson made it clear that his allegiance is “100% to England”.
In fact, he has some great plans in store to lift the profile of the sport in his home country by launching the National Badminton League (NBL) later this year.
“I work for Badminton England and we are on the verge of starting our NBL,” said Robertson, who used to partner Gail Emms in the mixed doubles and Anthony Clark in the men’s doubles.
“We will be implementing the nine-point best-of-five-game scoring system. We will also be introducing some entertaining elements into it … but that’s a secret, for now.
“The NBL will be shown live on television. It is a way to promote our English players and the sport as well. We hope the league will also increase the pool of players in England.
“Unlike the leagues in China, India and Indonesia, we do not offer big prize money but all the professional players in the team will be paid. For now, we do not have Asian players yet … but it is open to other European countries.”
With Jersey’s challenge over after losing all their group matches, Robertson will be rooting for England to win the mixed team title at the Games.
“I believe that England have the best chance to win it this year. They seem to have better depth than India and Malaysia,” said Robertson, who was in the squad when England last won a team gold at the Commonwealth Games in Manchester in 2002.
“Malaysia are not as strong as before.”