Alpha’s Michael Watt has been appointed Chief Executive Officer of the sport’s governing body, Badminton Ireland.
The appointment is a testament to both the sterling work which he has been doing while holding the fort until the permanent appointment was made, and the high regard in which the local businessman and sportsman is held.
Back in June Michael stated that: “It came as a little bit of a surprise both being asked and being able to say yes,” when it was proposed that he should take over the position on a temporary basis while the recruitment process gets underway.
The Badminton Ireland website, the sport’s governing body made the announcement on Saturday December 5, that the Board of Badminton Ireland “are delighted to be able to make this appointment and...welcome Michael as part of the team.”
Michael said he is ‘delighted’ to be appointed CEO.
“I’m delighted because badminton is my sport and has been for a lifetime,” he said.
“It’s pretty well run now so I’m not stepping into a failing organisation. Badminton Ireland covers the whole of Ireland so it’s about developing the sport across all four provinces, be it coaching, high performance or running events.”
With the body’s membership now topping 14,000 across Ireland, Michael has some key objectives to improve their sport.
“There are three things we want to achieve,” he said. “Firstly, we want to increase the quality of everything we do. Rather than chasing more events, we want to get better at what we already do.
“Secondly, we want to communicate better. We do a lot but we’re not good at telling the badminton public what we are doing.
“And thirdly, we want to increase grassroots activity. We concentrate on schools and getting the players involved in clubs.
“That’s where our participation is going to come from.”
The new role has meant a busy time for Michael.
“These last six months have been a blur,” he said. “I’m down in Dublin two days a week, working away with Badminton Ireland while running my business on top of it.
“Thankfully my children are a bit older now and I have that flexibility. If you want to do it, you have to put the hard work in.”
And on top of all that, he still makes time to brush up on his on-court skills.
“I’m still able to beat a few young guys so that keeps my eye in,” he laughed. “You need that. You can’t just be talking about badminton, you have to be out there too.”
Chairperson of Badminton Ireland, Ronan Rooney, commented on Michael’s appointment: “They say that ‘the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree’ and this is definitely true in Michael’s case, his father is a household name in Ireland as a coach and mentor and we would like to wish Ronnie and his wife Jean well – and I know that both of them will be very proud.
“Michael has a truly exceptional blend of badminton and business experience that will help to lead our organisation to new levels.
“He has represented Ireland many times on the international stage and holds (at least) 10 Irish National Singles Titles.
“He has also successfully held a number of administrative positions over the years including Irish Team Manager, National Squads’ Leader and, more recently as a member of the High Performance team.
“In addition to his track record as a player and administrator, Michael has a strong and successful reputation in the world of finance and financial management – skills and experience that will be of great benefit to Badminton Ireland as we continue to grow.
“The appointment comes at an opportune time as we begin the development of the next four-year Strategic Plan, and I would like you all to join with me in welcoming and congratulating Michael as he takes up his new role today.”