Tuesday, 12 August 2014 | MYT 10:39 PM
Success hinges on BAM making the right moves
National singles coach Rashid Sidek (right) helping Lee Chong Wei stretch during a training session. — filepic
JUST a couple of days ago after arriving from Glasgow, I had an interesting conversation with a taxi driver on my way home from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA).
The topic was ... badminton.
The issues were many but we spoke at length on the current one – the spat between Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) president Tengku Tan Sri Mahaleel Tengku Ariff and national singles coach Rashid Sidek over the failures of the men’s singles shuttlers at the recent Commonwealth Games.
This elderly man knows his stuff – maybe even more than some of the council members in the BAM set-up.
And I loved his conclusion.
“Miss, badminton is like playing chess. You need to have a strategy, a game plan.
“You need to anticipate the moves of your opponents – to think three or four steps ahead. The more you practise at it ... the more it will become an instinctive behaviour. We need to be the mastermind.”
This is exactly what is sorely missing in BAM right now.
Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin aptly said that BAM need a technical director. Or it could be a national coaching director or even a performance director. Call it whatever you want but BAM do need a man or a team of people to plan and execute the coaching and training programmes – from development to the elite level.
A coaching director probably will have a better explanation on Rashid and his boys’ performances. I am sure that he would not make a conclusion based only on one tournament.
In May, Rashid and his charges defied the odds to steer Malaysia to a runners-up finish at the Thomas Cup Finals in New Delhi (I guess, no one wanted to take a potshot at Rashid then).
Chong Wei Feng and Liew Daren crumbled in Glasgow in the absence of Lee Chong Wei,
Is it Rashid’s fault or the players’?
Or is it a grim reminder of the lack of successors to Chong Wei?
It is so convenient to let Rashid or even the current players take the blame for the failures.
What about the BAM’s management and their development programmes? What about the long-serving council members, who sit quietly in meetings? What about the state and school programmes? Is there even a transparent selection process?
Plenty of questions to ponder.
Since Tengku Mahaleel took over as the president last year, we had hoped for change. New portfolios were created. New functional groups were formed. But nothing much has changed really.
There was Tan Aik Mong as the Talent Management Group director but he fell out of Tengku Mahaleel’s plan.
Remember the assessor?
If I am not mistaken, those under this portfolio headed by Kedah BA president Teoh Teng Chor are supposed to assess the coaching and training programme. Razif Sidek was handling it at one point before he got into the bad books too.
Have these groups done anything over the last few months?
There is Capabilities, Research and Skills (CSR) – but honestly, I do not know whether this committee makes a collective decision or just a one-man show.
And instead of having one designated coaching director, the appointment of different project leaders for major tournament this year is also mind boggling.
Rashid led the Thomas Cup Finals. Jeremy Gan for the Commonwealth Games. Tey Seu Bock will head the team at the World Championships in Copenhagen this month while Wong Pei Tty takes charge at the Asian Games in Incheon next month.
No discredit to Pei Tty but she is the national women’s doubles assistant coach.
Like in a game of chess, let’s hope BAM find a “Garry Kasparov” who knows how to make the right moves.
The writer used to play chess with her late father Paul Thurai during her childhood days and always looks forward to say checkmate.