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Thursday September 6, 2012

Start from the top

KUALA LUMPUR: Former greats Rexy Mainaky and Han Jian each spent almost seven years as Malaysia’s national coaches in different eras but they have the same opinion – Malaysian badminton needs to get its act right.

Indonesian Rexy, a former Olympic and world champion who coached Malaysia from 2006-2012, feels that the change should start from the top.

“The BA of Malaysia (BAM) should choose a president who has time for the players and coaches. He should know the current situation well. The current president is not informed about everything and is controlled by those around him,” said Rexy in an online interview from the Philippines, where he is now coaching.

Han Jian: Perplexed by the number of heads
manning the national team. Han Jian: Perplexed by the number of heads manning the national team.

BAM president Datuk Seri Nadzmi Mohd Salleh is usually informed about the team’s progress by coaching and training chairman Ng Chin Chai and general manager Kenny Goh.

Nadzmi also meets the council and exco members regularly as a platform to exchange information and discuss internal matters.

“The key people will do something and they will feel proud about it but it is their decisions that are actually causing all the mess,” said Rexy.

“I believe the state presidents should also be people who know about badminton. Some are teachers and businessmen and have good relationships with BAM but they only know how to blame others.”

Rexy left in haste this year – just months before the London Olympics to take up the post of national coaching director in the Philippines. Apart from it being a lucrative deal, it also gave him much say in the running of the programme from his base in Manila.

Rexy was hired as Malaysia’s doubles coach in 2006 and under him, Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong did the country proud by winning the Doha Asian Games gold medal – a first for Malaysia in 34 years.

They also won several other titles, including the All-England, and came close to nicking the 2010 World Championships title before losing to Cai Yun-Fu Haifeng of China in the final.

Their performances have been quite erratic over the last two years and their future as a pair is uncertain after they returned home empty-handed from the London Games.

While admitting that he wished he had been given more control as a coach during his tenure, Rexy was also quick to point out that the coaches should share the blame too.

“Some coaches also use the players for their own benefits,” said Rexy without elaborating.

Prior to Rexy’s departure, Kien Keat-Boon Heong had requested to be coached by Pang Cheh Chang and it was approved by BAM.

Meanwhile, 1985 world champion Han Jian, who was the national coach from 1989-1996, believes that Malaysia’s success in badminton depends on long-term planning.

He said that the coaches should be given time to mould the players without any interference.

He added that too many changes in the set-up will slow down the progress of the coaches and players.

“BAM need long-term planning and policies. I have been here long and every time there is a failure, the whole set-up changes,” said Han Jian, who has been the chief coach of his Setia Badminton Academy here for 10 years.

“Coaches do not have much power but are blamed after every failure. Coaches need time to execute a programme or a plan. Instead of taking it one step at a time, they are expected to jump ... run and forced to achieve fast results.

“Naturally, this will cause them to make mistakes.

“It took five to seven years of hard work for Wong Choong Hann to become a world beater. Give the coaches time and a good environment to work in.”

Han Jian was also perplexed by the number of heads manning the national team, saying that “one head coach should be appointed”.

“First, there was a chief coach. Then, there was no chief coach. Then, we had one high performance director. Now, the number has grown to four. What is all these?,” he asked.

“There should be one expert to oversee everything. Stop making changes and have a long-term policy that will work for Malaysia.

“Maybe, it is time to take stock of the quality of coaches too. How many are professionals? Are they graduates? Not all players make good coaches ...”

Han Jian and Rexy are hoping the BAM’s coaching and training committee, who meet this Saturday, will make the right decisions.

What other former BAM coaches say

RAZIF SIDEK (chief coach 1994-1996)

GET new coa­ches as the current ones have been around for some time. They have been there over two Olympic Games cycles and four Thomas Cup campaigns. Set up a new management as well. There should be a full-time secretary to oversee and cross-check programmes and planning.

He should ensure all administrative work is in order, especially the task given to the general manager. There should not be any excuses for missing out players’ entry for tournaments.

BAM should organise open selection trials to select new players to replace those who have been with BAM for six year or more.

I resigned as a chief coach when the team failed to return with a gold medal at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games as promised.

KWAN YOKE MENG (national coach 1993-2003)

THE BAM have more funds now and I hope they will channel it generously to the states – specifically to the schools.

We need to produce players in batches continuously and the development programme is the key.

Coaches should be given more power in matters related to athletes and training programmes.

We also need a bigger pool of coaches. National doubles chief coach Tan Kim Her has nine pairs to handle – that’s way too many for a coach.

MOHD ROSLIN HASHIM (Bukit Jalil Sports School coach from July 2011-March 2012)

THE change should start from the administrators in BAM.

A few of them should step down because the target for the London Games was not met.

However, I do not think they will relinquish their posts.

It is pointless to hope for changes if the same people remain.

CHEAH SOON KIT (National women’s doubles coach 2001-2007)

THE focus should be on app­oin­ting a head coach.

It will solve many headaches in the team and prevent problems like selecting players and entering them for tournaments.

The head coach should be given the responsibility to monitor the players and coaches. He will be accountable for all the results and achievements of the team.

He should work closely with the committee or management but he should be given space to do his work. Communication is also important and it should be a two-way thing.

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