PETALING JAYA: Lee Chong Wei (pic) has given his seal of approval to the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM)’s initiative to expand their talent pool.
With AirAsia on board as their main sponsor, BAM, with their patron – Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor – launched their RM2mil AirAsia-BAM National Junior League yesterday.
The league, which is for players aged 18 and below, is expected to involve thousands of schoolchildren across the country and it is BAM’s first major move in revamping their junior development programme.
And world No. 2 Chong Wei, who will also launch his own Lee Chong Wei Badminton Academy in Ipoh on July 22, believes the timing is just right.
“I think it’s really great timing because I also had plans to launch my own academy,” said Chong Wei after the event’s launch at a hotel yesterday.
“Even though mine is just an academy, I hope that it will help BAM in their talent search.
“And it’s great that BAM have kickstarted this junior league because we are lacking junior tournaments to start with.
“Now there will be more tournaments for juniors, more sponsors’ support and potentially more juniors who can join the national association. Overall, it’s a good development.”
Chong Wei also added that the league, which plans to adopt a Thomas and Uber Cup competition format, will give juniors early exposure to team events.
“I don’t see anything wrong with this format. In fact it’s good because during my time as a junior, we didn’t have competitions in this format,” said Chong Wei.
“Now state-level players can go through it. They can work on building up teamwork from junior level itself.”
National men’s singles head coach Datuk Misbun Sidek also added that the league will provide early exposure to potential players at the grassroots level.
“The league is the start of a new era and we need a bigger talent pool for the future,” said Misbun.
“This will be the platform for parents who want their children to pick up badminton competitively and it’s a good way to give them exposure at state level.”