1976-79: Council Member
1979-99: Vice President and in turn chair of the Rules and Laws Committee, the Finance Committee and the Publicity Committee
1999-2006: Honorary Life Vice President
2001: Herbert Scheele Trophy for exceptional service
1987: Founded Oceania Badminton Confederation and served as its first secretary
1978 and 1983-96: President of Australia BA (now Badminton Australia)
1978-86: Chairman of Australia Badminton Umpires’ Committee
1995: Inducted into Sport Australia Hall of Fame
1996: Life member of Australia BA
2000: Australia Sports Medal
Victoria State Honours
1960-1978: Victoria Badminton Association secretary
1971: Inducted as life member of Victoria BA
1978-84: Victoria BA President
2001: Badminton Victoria Hall of Fame
Few leading figures in world badminton can have led a busier life than Hector Roy Ward (named Hector after his father but known to all as Roy).
His career path started at Melbourne Teachers’ College but his studies were interrupted until 1946 while he served as a special wireless intelligence officer with the Royal Australian Air Force.
He went on to teach at primary and secondary schools and by 1950 was secretary of the Geelong branch of the Victoria Teachers’ Union despite also being a member of the Liberal party.
He was also a sports journalist reporting on cycling, hockey, bowls (he won an award for best sportswriter at the Women’s World Bowls Championships) and badminton, which was to become his passion.
In politics he served on Mordialloc (near Melbourne) City Council and was Mayor from 1964-65 before becoming President for the next four years of Mentone Liberal Party. Next came election to the Victoria legislative and he served as a government whip and an opposition whip between1979-88.
His political nous was to serve him well as he began to scale the badminton peaks in an involvement with the sport which stretched 50 years. He may, as he put it, have been “no great shakes” as a player but was certainly a mover and shaker as an administrator.
He first played badminton at college and university in Melbourne but after also being a champion cyclist and trying athletics and golf, he was asked to assist in the establishment of badminton at St Augustine’s Church in Mentone. There was no turning back.
He joined the Victoria Badminton Association Council from March 1959 and just over a year later became secretary, filling that role for 18 years before becoming President from 1978-84.
At the same time he developed into an outstanding umpire, rising from local, to national and finally international level.
His skills as an official were also recognised. He was a technical adviser at the 1982 Commonwealth Games in Brisbane and was assistant referee at the second World Championships in Jakarta in 1980.
By now he was making his mark in the higher echelons of the IBF, heavily involved in the rules and laws of the game and was also founder and chairman of the International Badminton Umpires’ Association. He also wrote an umpiring textbook which was translated into 20 languages.
Former IBF colleague and close friend Torsten Berg summed up Ward’s contribution to badminton when he said: “Roy Ward was elected to the international body in 1976 and served the Federation with initiative and distinction. Three years later he was elevated to the office of vice presidency until his retirement in 2000. For his services to the sport he was made an Honorary Life Vice President. For many years he was also the Oceania Confederation representative to the world body.”
He will be remembered for two key initiatives in particular. He was responsible for establishing and developing a systematic training and assessment of international umpires. The first course was at the 1983 World Championships in Copenhagen. His mission was to establish a system where the top players were served by court officials of similar standard.
His other plan was to establish a Hall of Fame which the IBF Council approved in 1996. The aim was to honour players and officials who have enhanced the sport through exceptional achievements. He didn’t plan it this way but it was to transpire that he was admitted to both Sport Australia (1995) and Badminton Victoria’s Halls of Fame (2001). He was the first badminton figure to be recognised in this way by Sport Australia but said at the time: “Administrators are only in the Hall of Fame because of the athletes and we must never forget that. Without them we are nothing.” It is for that reason that he was so passionate about the IBF instituting their Hall of Fame.
He also played a key part in three other crucial phases in the history of the IBF: first, the ending of the threat to the IBF from a breakaway World Badminton Federation. Secondly, he worked hard with his IBF colleagues for the inclusion of badminton in the Olympic Games and, thirdly, followed that up by fighting a winning battle for the inclusion of mixed doubles as a medal sport from the Atlanta Games of 1996.
At a continental level in 1987 he founded the Oceania Badminton Confederation, became its first secretary and paid his own travel costs because of lack of funding.
It marked another first in his badminton career, having also been Australia’s first IBF delegate, their first Vice President and first non-European to chair an IBF committee.
In Fiji secondary schools still compete for the Roy Ward Shield and he even found time to write The History of Oceania Badminton 1976-2001.
All his efforts deservedly earned him the IBF’s Herbert Scheele Award in 2000 and in that same year was given the honour of carrying the torch on a leg of the Sydney Olympics Torch relay.
Away from sport, Ward was a keen historian, particularly the history of the state of Victoria. He was a member and President of Mordialloc Historical Society, Vice President of the South-Eastern Historical Association and was a member of the History Advisory Councll of Victoria. From 1980-85 he chaired the Victoria 150th Celebrations Local and Regional Committee.
On top of that he made an exceptional contribution to the work of the Red Cross in Australia.
But the list of Ward’s interests and activities was endless. His hobbies included the theatre, fine wine, art and sculpture – he was chairman of the Elizabeth Murdoch Sculpture Foundation and treasurer of the Public Galleries Association.
All this work brought further accolades, including the Medal of the Order of Australia in 1990.
On his death in 2006 he left Joan, his wife of 57 years after marrying on New Year’s Eve in 1949, daughter Julie and son Greg.
His epitaph? A Badminton Australia obituary summed him up: “Roy was to badminton what the carburettor was to a car. He breathed air and ideas into the organisations he was involved with and fuelled their power to achieve.”
Badminton Australia Archives
Sport Australia Hall of Fame
History of Oceania Badminton 1976-2001 by Roy Ward
-- By William Kings