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Sunday September 29, 2013 MYT 7:30:00 AM
Sunday September 29, 2013 MYT 9:45:05 AM
by rajes paul
Should the focus be on churning out badminton players from a young age and developing the sport so that there will be a future for badminton in Malaysia?
IT HAS been an emotionally-charged time for many in the Malaysian badminton fraternity over the last few weeks.
It all began when new Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) president Tengku Tan Sri Mahaleel Tengku Ariff introduced his corporate style and some drastic changes to improve the coaching and training structure.
Some were impressed, some happy and some felt at least there was hope for badminton.
Some, however, were in the dark and confused. Some felt intimidated, undermined. And, some got hurt – really bad.
Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin aptly described the situation as such – “whenever there are changes, some feathers will be ruffled”.
Feathers were ruffled all right and we are not just talking about those from the shuttlecocks.
There were rumblings on the ground among the coaches and players and eventually singles coach Rashid Sidek resigned.
Rashid did not mind the changes made by Tengku Mahaleel and his key man – the Talent Management Group (TMG) director Tan Aik Mong – but he did not like the way the coaches were undermined and not consulted during the transition stage.
After serving BAM for 10 years, Rashid felt that he was not given due respect and wondered why he was not engaged in the decision-making process.
There was talk that more would follow in Rashid’s footsteps.
Three days after Rashid’s resignation, an unexpected change took place – Tengku Mahaleel restored the structure to its original set-up after a six-and-a-half hour meeting with the coaches.
It probably did not go down well with Aik Mong, who stepped down the next day. Aik Mong just did not feel needed anymore as his plan to move the coaches around was scrapped.
And now all indications point to Rashid returning to the fold soon.
Could BAM have avoided this mess? Could there have been a better way of going about putting things in order without stepping on people’s toes?
Badminton-passionate fans have differing views.
Some feel that the new management did the right thing with its gung-ho approach.
Malaysia are already being eclipsed by India, Thailand, Japan, Taiwan and even some European countries. And the BAM team have to be seen to be doing something to stop the rot.
Some, however, feel that the new people probably should have used the same approach as Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho. The English Premier League’s “Special One” uses the same loyal backroom staff wherever he goes.
By having faithful and dependable lieutenants, Mourinho has worked without any resistance from the staff.
Mahaleel’s new management, however, had to work with a group of existing staff and coaches. Many feel that the new management should have taken some time to feel the pulse of Malaysian badminton before making changes.
Who else would have a better feel of it than the players and coaches themselves?
Winning the trust of the team is important.
But honestly, what is the real and pressing problem for BAM?
For now, it is the lack of talent. How else can we explain world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei’s domination in the local scene for a decade and the heavy-dependency on him for success?
The problem is in the grassroots and development programmes.
I like what former world champion Han Jian said during a recent interview – that the focus should not be on the top but the bottom.
“The problem with BAM is that they have been focusing too much on the national team. And when the management changes, they keep repeating the same mistakes. The problem is at the ground level. There is just no proper system at the lower levels,” said Han Jian, who was Malaysia’s coach from 1989-1997.
“It takes time and years of investment to get it right at the bottom. It is exhausting work but I feel this is where the energy, resources and finances should be pumped into. If we do not get it right here, Malaysian badminton will suffer when Chong Wei leaves one day.”
As BAM’s new management has just come into the picture, it is only right that they be given time to focus on the right areas of concern.
There is a quote by Albert Einstien: “If I had an hour to solve a problem I would spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and five minutes thinking about the solutions.”
The writer would like to add that using tact and the right manner of executing solutions is also pertinent.
Tags / Keywords:
badminton, BAM, Badminton Association of Malaysia, Han Jian, Rashid Sidek, Lee Chong Wei, Tengku Tan Sri Mahaleel Tengku Ariff, Tan Aik Mong
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