Source: Badminton Alberta website April 27, 2007 Article appearing in Thursday's edition of Globe & Mail. Written by Adriana Barton April 26, 2007 at 9:35 AM EDT VANCOUVER — When Gary Yang goes out on weekends, he likes to hang out with his buddies until 3 or 4 a.m. -- but he's not exactly partying. Instead, he spends the night smashing shuttles across a net with his racquet. "I don't go clubbing," says Mr. Yang, a 33-year-old sports-equipment salesperson. "I'd rather play badminton." Mr. Yang is among a growing number of B.C. badminton fans who can't get enough of the sport and often play into the wee hours. Popular among Asians, badminton is now played in almost every community centre in Greater Vancouver. To meet growing demand, four new private badminton clubs have sprung up during the past three years in Richmond, a predominantly Asian suburb of Vancouver. The newly opened RichmondPro Badminton Centre, with 15 courts, is North America's largest private badminton facility. While Ontario still has more badminton clubs and players than other provinces, the sport is growing faster in British Columbia, says Kyle Hunter, who co-ordinates tournaments for Badminton Canada. The nocturnal games, he adds, are "more of a B.C. thing." Avid players whack birdies until 3 a.m. on weekends at Richmond's Yumo Badminton Centre. Others haunt the seasoned Vancouver Racquets Club, open to members 24 hours a day. Mr. Yang says Yumo, which opened in September, 2006, is the place to be on a Saturday night because that's when the high-powered players show up. After sweating through half a dozen sets of doubles, everyone goes out to eat seafood hotpot at a nearby restaurant until 4 a.m. At the Vancouver Racquets Club, each of the 1,300 or so members gets a key to the facility and can play badminton whenever the mood strikes. Few members play at 4 a.m. but plenty start at 6 a.m., while others play well past midnight, says Robert Trepanier, executive director of the non-profit facility. The club's badminton memberships have been full for the past four years and about 35 players are on the waiting list, he says. The sport is taking off in B.C. schools as well. At the high-school level, the number of senior tournaments has doubled to 200 over the past six years, says Mike Charlton, badminton commissioner for B.C. School Sports and a teacher, coach and vice-principal at J.N. Burnett Secondary School in Richmond. And at the college level, B.C. players swept every gold medal at the 2007 National Badminton Championships, held in Richmond in March (at RichmondPro actually ). In China and Taiwan, top badminton players are idolized as national heroes and 24-hour badminton courts are commonplace, says Mr. Yang, who travels to Asia regularly to visit family. Born in Vancouver, Mr. Yang learned the game at age 5 from his Chinese-immigrant parents. But in North America, badminton has yet to shed its image as a lightweight sport. Most people still see it as a backyard game "where you hit and giggle," says Jeff White, executive director of Badminton Canada. The official game is far from the backyard version, Mr. White explains. Badminton is an intense workout that requires agility, strategy and excellent hand-eye co-ordination, he says. It's become a favourite cross-training activity for athletes such as 24-year-old NHL hockey player Duncan Milroy, who was a Canadian badminton champion as a teenager. The sport would draw more players and spectators in North America "if people deemed it hip," Mr. White says. Vancouverite Tom Luong sometimes plays badminton up to six times a week. Mr. Luong says he used to hit the badminton courts well past midnight, but he had to cut down recently. "I was having sleeping difficulties because of it," he explains. Now, he says, he only plays late-night badminton "once in a blue moon, when I get desperate."