Badminton is one of the most played sports around the world today, enjoyed by hundreds of millions every year and a huge passion of mine; which is why I am launching OAShepherd. A bespoke sports marketing and athlete management agency specifically for the badminton industry. Currently Badminton is not seen as a serious professional sport in many countries around the world with many international players struggling financially with little support. My aim is to change this; making badminton commercially viable for the players, coaches and teams who are vital to making badminton the next big sport.
England was the birthplace of badminton in the 19th century however in the modern day Asia reigns supreme with the majority of the top players. Now many of the top players are funded by government programs promoting athletic talent for Olympic medals. With tight budgets only a select number of athletes are able to receive this type of funding and while it is enough to compete professionally it is not enough to invest for the future. I believe that every athlete should approach their career similar to a business. Not that they should make cold decisions but they should be smart in how they develop a personal brand, make decisions and create partnerships.
The recent development of the Purple league in Malaysia, PBL in India and Superliga in Indonesia gives great financial support to players. The recent deal the BWF made with HSBC to sponsor the world tour is also very positive and a step in the right direction providing more prize money for players competing in these tournaments. Though this is very positive and a step in the right direction it does still leave the majority of the top 100 ranked players in the world with a wider gap to close to become professional. For these players alternative strategies need to be found to push the sport in general to a higher more commercially viable level; and the signs are here that this is starting to happen.
I am a big fan of modern social media marketing on platforms like Instagram, YouTube and Twitter where people can show their authentic selves and interact with a large community. This alone can make athletes more attractive for partnerships even if the athlete is not a top player. There is so much room for Badminton players to profit if they are willing to step outside of the norms that have been set in the industry and this is what I will encourage my clients to do. Recently we have seen athletes like Anthony Joshua, Kevin Durant and many more investing heavily in social media development, creating their own content and engaging with their virtual audience; increasing their reach and appeal to audiences.
“I have spent over 15 years around the sport, but there is still plenty to learn and understand in the industry which is changing all the time. I will not promise that I can make every athlete out there rich and famous, its not possible to promise that. But I do promise that I will work closely with every athlete that is willing to trust me with their career to help create the life and career they want. I believe that international athletes of all levels can profit from their careers.”
“I very much believe in approaching professional sports as a business similar to that of other ‘performers’. Through passion, dedication and a willingness to learn this is possible. There are so many different strategies that can provide athletes with unique ways to increase sustainable revenue. This is what I aim to do with my clients. Through marketing strategy, commercial development and use of media; athletes can profit from playing the sport they love. It has been done by influencers and in other sports and now it’s time for Badminton.”
I am Oliver Shepherd, the founder of OAShepherd. Sport has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. The thrill of winning, heartbreak of losing and pure energy when competing was gripping for me and Badminton epitomised this for me. I started playing when i was 8 years old, as many do at primary school. I played at school, county, league and university while performing roles such as team captain, player-coach and performance co-ordinator while also playing. I graduated from De Montfort University in Entrepreneurship and Innovation with a 1st class honours degree. My intention was always to create businesses and provide value to the people and communities around me. My degree provided me with the foundation in marketing, finance, business strategy and business operations that I have built on with my own experience of starting businesses with both successes and failures.