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Monday August 26, 2013 MYT 6:04:00 PM
Monday August 26, 2013 MYT 6:07:15 PM
by rajes paul
Zulfadli Zulkifli: 'The independent players should be given an equal right to represent the country for major tournaments like the Thomas Cup finals if they can prove themselves.
KUALA LUMPUR: Former world junior boys’ singles champion Zulfadli Zulkifli hopes the new management of Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) will not close the doors on independent players.
The 19-year-old has no plans to join the national team under the helm of its new president Tengku Tan Sri Mahaleel Tengku Ariff but he hopes that independent shuttlers like him will be given a fair shot at representing the country in major tournaments.
“I have been an independent player since my junior days and I hope to stay that way. My only hope is for the new president (Tengku Mahaleel) to treat every player equally,” said Zulfadli.
“The independent players should be given an equal right to represent the country for major tournaments like the Thomas Cup finals if they can prove themselves. This transparency in selection will surely keep all the independent players on their toes too. After all, everyone just wants to do their best for the nation - whether they are a national or professional player,” he said.
Zulfadli’s journey as an independent player however, took a big blow this year when his ties with one of his key sponsors - professional outfit KLRC – was severed in June. He however said that it had not crushed his spirit.
“I have been with KLRC since I was 14 years old but two months ago my ties with them ended. Life as an independent shuttler is not easy. We bank heavily on sponsors’ support and we have to do many other things by ourselves. This however, makes us stronger.
Under the KLRC banner, Zulfadli’s ultimate achievement was becoming the country’s first ever Asian junior and World junior singles champion in 2011.
“I am grateful that I still have another sponsor - Forza. I also managed to secure a deal with Red Bull and there are a few others I am negotiating with. My objective is still the same - to start making a significant presence in the senior rank before I turn 22.
“Several injuries have hampered my progress since winning the world junior title in 2011 but I am taking it all in my stride. I am still young and gaining as much exposure as I can. Hopefully, we will start to see some results next year,” he added.
Zulfadli is currently gearing up for the Taiwan Open Grand Prix Gold from Sept 3-8. The other tournaments he has lined up this year are the Opens in Indonesia, Russia, England, Holland, Denmark and France.
“I am currently ranked 69th in the world and it will be a great achievement for me if I can break into the top 50 by the end of this year,” added Zulfadli, who is currently ranked as the national number 9th player after Lee Chong Wei (1st), Chong Wei Feng (13th), Liew Daren (17th), Mohd Arif Abdul Latif (32nd), Tan Chun Seang (34th), Misbun Ramdan Misbun (43rd), Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin (54th) and Goh Soon Huat (64th).
Tags / Keywords:
badminton, Zulfadli Zulkifli, Badminton Association of Malaysia, BAM, Tengku Tan Sri Mahaleel Tengku Ariff
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