Each year the Leinster Badminton Executive Committee award the title of Honorary Life Member to those Volunteers who have given exceptional service to Leinster Badminton over a protracted period of time. At this year’s AGM, Roy Cobbe was awarded this honour.
At the AGM, Lesley Cobbe delivered the following speech detailing his accomplishments and thanking him for his dedication to the sport.
My childhood memories are of myself and my brother spending a lot of evenings with our babysitter, waving my Dad (Roy) and my Mum (Shirley) off to badminton. They had good reasons for not bringing us because when they did, we fell asleep at the back of the court or worse, ran around making mischief.
At that time my Dad was already 20 years into his playing career, which started in Portarlington Parochial. I know he remembers the on-court partnerships he had there fondly. Or maybe not so fondly – he has partnered my Mum, myself and my brother Trevor and I’m not sure if that is good for family relations!
He spent much of the early years playing doubles with his brother Alan, although the defensive style of play he’s known for was … let’s say … a point of debate between them.
But this style worked really well in his doubles partnership with Loftus Warren (pictured below). They had a reputation making matches go on long into the night with the “old scoring” and wearing out their opposition – I’m told it was like hammering against a brick wall.
At Portarlington he first reached the top grades in the South West Leinster Badminton League (SWLBL). He earned plenty of silverware there too – although he regularly reminds me he still hasn’t reached a final in the SWLBL individual Championships. He also won his All-Ireland League title with Portarlington which he is very proud of.
But playing alone wasn’t enough to keep him busy! In 1980 he took on coaching “junior badminton” at Portarlington together with his brother Alan. And that was just the beginning of his immense contribution as a volunteer to badminton in Leinster.
Much of that contribution has been to the South West Leinster Badminton League, which he has been at the heart of for 30+ years.
At the 1990 AGM the outgoing President Jack Fenelon stated it would be nice to see a young face in the position of President – cue my Dad. Given this was about 2 months before I was due, maybe it’s no surprise that he accepted it! The following season he moved to the position of Secretary / Treasurer which has a reputation for requiring even more work.
He has served for 30 years (consecutively I think) as a Vice-President on the Executive Committee, for 7 years as Secretary / Treasurer, and as President for 6 years over 3 terms – up to the present day where he is the current President.
He spearheaded the setup of new competitions like the SWLBL Championships, and initiatives like the SWLBL Umpires. And he must hold a record for the most nights spent out at South West events.
In the 2000s he got involved at Leinster level; for a short time at Inter-County, and organizing the Leinster Inter-League for almost 10 years. He served on the Leinster Badminton Executive for 8 years – and as Chairman for 4. At BI level he became an official BI Umpire, and worked closely with BI on ways to improve on and promote badminton in the province.
But his contribution doesn’t end there. Grass roots club badminton has always been very dear to his heart and in the mid 00s he set up Portlaoise Badminton – now the biggest club in the SWLBL, and soon after helped set up Kilkenny Badminton.
He has stayed close to Portlaoise ever since – continuing his playing career there.
He has given a huge amount to badminton in Leinster and is so deserving of this small token of appreciation from us.
I couldn’t say all of this without giving special mention to my Mum Shirley – the backbone of the work he has done, is doing, and no doubt will continue to do. I’m sure he would agree that this is as much hers as it is his.
Finally, I wanted to give some other people the opportunity to express their appreciation so I reached out to some people to let them have their say.
The response was overwhelming – particularly from his fellow Portlaoise Badminton Club members.
By Lesley Cobbe