The ClearOne Sports Centre opened in 2012 to a recurring theme from badminton players of “where are you?”. The Centre is at the back of a large warehouse that was somewhat hidden by trees and commercial road work in the front. The Centre also had no street signage. That’s not because the marketing department uniquely thought signage for a business was a bad idea but rather that the city's rules for installing signage and the massive road construction project on John Young Parkway precluded getting a sign installed when ClearOne opened. This made finding the entrance challenging, particularly in the evenings.
Often the centre’s phone would ring and we could pretty much predict the next line it went something like, “I’ve been driving around trying to find you guys, where are you?” After some explicit directions they would eventually find us. Upon entering there was often a gasp, “WOW! This is impressive facility, but boy you guys sure are hard to find.”
The road work was eventually completed and sign installed. Step One of marketing 101 was now complete. On to Step Two.
Step Two was introducing training through our Head Coach Hendry Winarto. Hendry came to ClearOne after coaching in Spain for close to 8 years. With a flair for badminton that is prevalent in all top Indonesian players and his fluency in Spanish, he was a natural fit to head up the coaching of badminton in Orlando. We now have dozens of students training multiple times a week and we offer classes from “Kids Beginner” to “Super Elite” six days a weekTick, tick. Two Steps down and now the Step Three and that was to create awareness outside of just Orlando for the sport of badminton. Enter the Yonex USA International.
In early 2013, after discussions with the organizers of the Miami International about creating a new tournament in Orlando, ClearOne met with Yonex executives from Japan and the USA and the idea to host what would become the Yonex USA International was hatched. About 9 months later (that’s just how long a new baby takes) the Yonex USA International 2013 launched. It was in badminton terminology a “Smashing” success with 96 players from 11 countries participating. The U.S. dominated the results taking 4 of the 5 gold medals.
This event attracted major local media coverage and awareness throughout the badminton world. ClearOne and the Orlando destination was now on the map. Prior to the international tournament ClearOne hosted the Southern a regional tournament that attracted players from as far away as Texas. College teams from Canada have also trained at ClearOne.
The badminton world is now aware of us. And now of course we are continuing to expose all of Orlando to the sport of badminton.
So three easy steps to International awareness. Well not totally easy....it required a lot of hard work from the staff at ClearOne and most importantly the support of the badminton community of Orlando and Florida. The International tournament simply could not be hosted without the dedication and commitment of the close to one hundred volunteers that have assisted us on this event. Many thanks to the players, officials and fans for your support. And I guess that actually concludes Step 4 which was recognition.
ClearOne will continue to grow and offer more and more to the badminton world and eventually train the next US and possibly World Champions. Go Keira! Keira is Hendry and Maria Winarto's darling baby girl who at 9 months old already has the patented backhand grip of her dad.
Step Four, Other sports? Yes! ClearOne has become so much more than what started as a badminton centre as we have added the sports of Ping Pong (Table Tennis) and Pickleball. The Central Florida Table Tennis Club uses the centre to offer recreational and high- performance Table Tennis 4 times a week. And not to be outdone, Pickleball now uses the center every day of the week. Pickleball is very popular with the over 50 crowd, however, you may be surprised to learn that it was very popular with all the kids camps that were run at ClearOne during the summer and even played at a few schools. We often have players as young as 7 playing on a weekly basis.
So 4 EASY steps completed that have taken many hours of time and commitment from all the staff at ClearOne. Our future looks very bright and I in particular look forward to the completion of Step Five the crowning of a World or Olympic Champion that was trained at ClearOne. Go Keira!