BAM's players, like Soo Teck Zhi and others, failed to shine at the recent Malaysia Open Grand Prix Gold.
PASIR GUDANG: Everyone knows that Malaysian badminton is searching for the next Lee Chong Wei.
With that in mind, it is harder to accept that none of our back-up men’s singles shuttlers at the Malaysia Open Grand Prix Gold, which ended on Sunday, came close to showing they can step into his big shoes one day.
Without any top guns in the fray except for Chong Wei Feng, who unfortunately had to withdraw because of a back injury, the GP Gold was an ideal platform for the future stars and second stringers to shine.
But Badminton Association of Malaysia’s (BAM) Goh Soon Huat, Soo Teck Zhi, Goh Giap Chin, Nur Mohd Azriyn and Chong Yee Han all failed to give the impression that the search for Chong Wei’s successor would end soon.
Two others – Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin and Soong Joo Ven - did not compete due to injuries while several others, including Tan Kian Meng and Cheam June Wei, took part in the Vietnam International Challenge – without much success too.
BAM have asked for time to strengthen their programme. The players have asked for time to prove themselves. The coaches have asked for time to rebuild the players.
The question is what are they doing with all this time and are any of their actions bearing fruit?
To get the best players into the national team, we need solid players to come through the Bukit Jalil Sports School (BJSS) and the state programmes.
Have BAM placed the best coaches in BJSS and the states? Who is monitoring these coaches? It should be a full-time national coaching director or a development director and not council members or a working committee, which only meets periodically.
Sadly, we do not have a supremo and some administrators have even taken it upon themselves to coach the players – to the extent of teaching them how to serve even!
For the last two years, BJSS have failed in producing world junior badminton players – a tradition that they had held proudly for some time. Do not be surprised if these juniors come back empty-handed from this year’s edition in Alor Setar this month.
One theory for this decline is that BJSS players are not training full-time.
In countries like China, Thailand, South Korea and Indonesia, their juniors are in a centralised camp all the time. If these juniors fail to get it right in badminton, they’re given the opportunity to further their studies – no wonder, these juniors are miles ahead of the Malaysians.
Is our selection process, especially for juniors, transparent and done without favouritism?
Some were unhappy with the recent selection trial for the World Junior Championships. There were grouses because some had to go through the trials while others were exempted.
Is the one-off selection trial good enough to justify and determine the best players and, if it is not, why waste time even conducting such a trial?
BAM met up with parents of these players recently to look into some matters – but are parents even intefering with the running of junior programmes?
All parties should work together – the states, professional clubs, BJSS, parents and the national team but the question is – how united are all the stakeholders?
The battle for our players should be against players of rival countries. The fight should not be within our own country. Unfortunately, our so-called potential players face many challenges, distractions and uncertainties from within.
So much of time has already been wasted. Our potential players have some catching up to do, let’s give them a thriving and conducive environment so that they can make that leap to progress.
The lack of which would translate to failure because no amount of time will help us narrow the gap with other countries, especially our neighbours Thailand, Indonesia and even Singapore,