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Friday August 30, 2013 MYT 7:30:00 AM
Thursday August 29, 2013 MYT 9:51:39 PM
by rajes paul
A 1992 file photo of Datuk Punch Gunalan holding the Thomas Cup aloft. Next to him are Razif Sidek and Foo Kok Keong. That was the last time Malaysia won the Thomas Cup.
KUALA LUMPUR: Former international Razif Sidek has wonderful memories of the national shuttlers walking as one team during the Merdeka Day parade – 21 years ago at Dataran Merdeka.
Clad in national attire, captain Razif and the 1992 Thomas Cup-winning team marched with heads held high – waving the Jalur Gemilang to Malaysians who had turned up in hordes to celebrate Malaysia’s independence and the millions who were glued to their television sets, witnessing the grand celebration.
“There was a sea of colour and people of different races and colours coming together. It was a very proud moment for the badminton team as we marched on,” reminisced Razif.
“The badminton team had won the Thomas Cup that year. In the same year, I had also won the bronze medal (with my brother Jalani in the men’s doubles) at the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games.
“Many things are vague now but what I vividly remember was the unity among the national shuttlers and how we were able to bring the nation together as one – despite the different races and colours. I just felt so proud to be a Malaysian. I still am.”
Razif hopes the spirit of unity will live on in the national badminton team.
He can’t help but feel that the chase for honours has become more of an individual pursuit rather than a team effort in recent years.
Malaysia have yet to win the Thomas Cup since the feat of Razif-Jalani and their team-mates – Rashid Sidek, Foo Kok Keong, Kwon Yoke Meng, Rahman Sidek, Wong Ewee Mun, Cheah Soon Kit and Soo Beng Kiang.
They also had excellent guidance from BAM’s heirarchy then – president Tan Sri Elyas Omar, team manager the late Datuk Punch Gunalan and coaches Yang Yang, Han Jian and Chen Chengjie.
In contrast, today, Malaysia do not even have a solid team for next year’s Thomas Cup Finals in New Delhi, India. In fact, for the last two years, many players – even the ones with potential – have left the national team because of a combination of reasons.
Many coaches have come and gone, without having time to establish anything concrete for Malaysian badminton.
And there have also been issues with the selection process.
“There should not be any place for politics in sport. The players and coaches should help one another to enhance their performance. We should do more to instil national pride and unity among the shuttlers,” said Razif.
“I think it’s time that we give emphasis to team events. We have to have a strong base to build a good team.
“Please do not get me wrong. I’m not saying that we are not united right now but I believe we can do more to strengthen our unity.
“I feel that many – players and coaches – are chasing personal glory. There is no harm in that but it should not be at the expense of team unity.
“It doesn’t matter what our backgrounds or race are. We should cultivate team spirit and look out for one another. Sports has proven time after time that it can unite people.
“I do hope that as we celebrate our 56th Merdeka, we will be able to put our perspectives right,” added Razif, who coaches a handful of independent shuttlers – like Mohd Zakry Abdul Latif-Mohd Fairuzizuan Mohd Tazari, Mohd Arif Abdul Latif and Mohd Hafiz Hashim.
It will surely be a point for new BAM president Tengku Tan Sri Mahaleel Tengku Ariff to ponder.
Tengku Mahaleel is doing some ground work to look into what could be done to strengthen the coaching and training programme and create a wider base of talents so that Malaysian badminton will constantly be on the world map.
He is expected to reveal his plans during the council meeting on Sept 7.
Tags / Keywords:
badminton, Razif Sidek, unity, personal glory, Thomas Cup, Merdeka
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