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Friday February 8, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Wednesday April 17, 2013 MYT 1:49:58 AM
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s new doubles coach Paulus Firman was known as a “woman’s man” during most of his playing and coaching days in Indonesia.
That’s because he used to play in the mixed doubles and coached the women’s doubles in Indonesia.
Now, he has to deal with men as he is in charge of Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong, Hoon Thien How-Tan Wee Kiong and Tan Wee Gieen-Mohd Lutfi Zaim Abdul Khalid.
And the 44-year-old Paulus is game for it.
“Handling men and women players can be a different experience for some. My approach may vary but I plan to be the same person. I’ll give them due respect and treat them as friends – and I expect the same from them,” said Paulus, who started his job as Malaysia’s national men’s doubles coach on Feb 1.
Paulus started his playing career in the mixed doubles from 1991-1995 with Herawati, winning the Polish Open and reaching the semi-finals and finals of several other Open tournaments.
In his 16 years as a coach with the All-Indonesia Badminton Association (PBSI) since 1997, he was the women’s doubles coach for 12 years. It was only from 2004-2008 that he was made an assistant coach to Mulyo Handoyo and their main task was to guide top singles shuttler Taufik Hidayat.
Under Paulus, the Indonesian women’s doubles shuttlers won the SEA Games gold medal numerous times and one of his pairs – Jo Novita-Lita Nurlita – even did well to reach the semi-finals of the 2003 World Championships and the All-England.
“I’m married (to Amalia Hidajat) and blessed with two daughters (Nathania Teshia and Samantha Clarissa). Yes, I’m around women most of the time,” he said in jest.
“Dealing with men is a more straight forward affair. But I guess as long as we respect the relationship we have as a coach and a player, everything else will fall into place. That’s my motto.”
The soft-spoken Paulus said he would be out to narrow the gap between Keat-Boon Heong and the others under his care.
“Koo and Tan are complete and experienced players. They cannot be treated as kids. For now, they need some encouragement and positive words to be more consistent at the top level,” he said.
“Koo and Tan have been in the limelight for most of their careers but sometimes focusing too much on one pair can affect them. South Korea have four good pairs; China, Indonesia and Denmark also have more than one pair they can count on.
“It’s easier when the burden is shared. Hopefully, this year we’ll see more pairs producing positive results,” added Paulus, who will be celebrating Chinese New Year with his family in Jakarta.
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