A junior sports club which has been running for more than 20 years will close this week – because boys are too busy playing the computer game Fortnite.
The number of youngsters going to the High Fliers badminton sessions has dropped alarmingly in recent months and the organisers says there is only one thing to blame.
Fortnite is an online shooting game which has millions of players around the world.
Tony Wigley, who set up the High Fliers club, said: “There was a huge change after the 2018 Christmas holidays.
“The number of juniors playing badminton plunged and parents were telling me their children were playing Fortnite five hours a night, seven night a week.
“One parent said they had caught their child playing Fortnite at 1am on a school day, another said they had to turn off the wi-fi to stop their child playing this game on the computer.
“All the juniors playing Fortnite were boys.
“More than half of our juniors had stopped attending our Friday club nights by early February. I decided to give it another 10 weeks to see if this latest computer gaming craze would die down.
“It got worse. Sadly, we were losing money each week and I decided to close down High Fliers after 21 years.
“We did not run the club to make a huge profit, we only needed to cover our badminton court fees and to pay for racquets and shuttlecocks.”
The final High Fliers session will be held tomorrow evening (Friday) at East Riding Leisure Bridlington.
Tony started the club in September 1998 with his friend Lynne Robson. They had both gained their Badminton England coaching badges and wanted to try to increase the number of young players who were playing in the local leagues.
“It was an immediate success and we introduced two junior teams into the league that season.
“Sometimes we have introduced as many as five junior teams into the league, such was the interest from juniors and their parents.
“High Fliers juniors took part in annual badminton tournaments in Scarborough, York, Hull and Lincoln.
“There was such demand from junior players that we had to introduce a waiting list. Our Bridlington annual tournament had to be held over two days with as many as 150 players taking part from all over Yorkshire.”
As he prepared for tomorrow’s final session, Tony thanked all the players, parents and coaches who had helped him run the club.