THE desire to give every player an equal opportunity to realise his or her talent is what gave birth to the Looi Badminton Academy, which later went on to become the Petaling Badminton Club (PBC).
And the man who founded it, Datuk Jack Koh, certainly knows everything about being deprived of such an opportunity.
“I resigned from BAM (Badminton Association of Malaysia) on Jan 31, 2006 mainly because of the lack of opportunity despite being the world junior boys’ doubles runners-up,” said the 32-year-old Jack.
He reached the boys’ doubles final in 2002 with Tan Bin Shen but packed his bags four years later because “I was seen as a player without a future”.
“En route to the world junior final, Bin Shen and I defeated Indonesia’s Markis Kido-Hendra Setiawan, who later went on to become world champions.
“I left BAM with a heavy heart.
“That’s why I don’t want other junior players to go through the same heartache. Everyone deserves a chance,” he said.
Looking back, Jack said that he was lucky that he had some encouragement in his bid to set up the club.
“Wong Wei Choy (who is now his father-in-law and who later became the club’s co-owner) advised me not to waste my talent. He pointed out that badminton was my asset and encouraged me to build on it. I took his advice to heart,” said Jack, who founded the club and started by coaching juniors in schools.
He started with one school. Slowly but surely, it expanded to nine. But he wasn’t satisfied.
“I felt like I was cheating this bunch of juniors. What’s the point of training them without having any competitions?
“That’s when I started organising tournaments,” he said of the humble beginnings of the Fleet-Looi Protech badminton tournament and the Samsung-Senheng Talent programme for juniors.
Now, Jack oversees the full-fledged professional Malaysia Badminton League that has attracted many international stars, including former world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei.
The club also have a new home at the Sports Arena Sentosa in Old Klang Road.
And they have four centres now, including in Serdang, Mahkota Cheras and Puchong.
“It’s hard to believe the progress the club has made. I was working as a barista in a coffee shop at Mid Valley after leaving BAM.
“Now, my club runs one of the most expensive league and produces talents for the country,” said Jack.
Thanks to the setting up of the club and the league, seven of PBC’s juniors – Shia Chun Kang, Chen Tang Jie, Man Wei Chong, Kwek Yee Jian, Soh Wooi Yik, Tan Chee Tean and Ian Wong – were roped into BAM this year.
Tang Jie even won one silver (mixed team) and one bronze (mixed doubles) at the World Junior Championships in Spain last year.
With the dynamic Jack at the helm, expect more future stars to rise from PBC.