KUALA LUMPUR: The Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) did not cash in the experience of Wong Choong Hann, Lee Wan Wah, Chan Chong Ming and Chew Choon Eng after their retirement as national players two years ago.
But the four of them have teamed up to do their part in raising the profile of the game in the country and passing their knowledge to the younger generation of badminton enthusiasts.
Yesterday, singles shuttler Choong Hann and doubles compatriots Wan Wah, Chong Ming and Choon Eng launched their training centre, Sunsuria Pioneer Badminton Centre, at Kota Damansara in grand style.
Former great Datuk Punch Gunalan and Razif Sidek turned up for the opening and it was also attended by the former stars’ close friends, relatives and 55 juniors from the ages of seven years and above, who have signed up for their programme.
The quartet are the latest in a group of former players to venture into a two-pronged business approach – to continue to draw income from badminton as coaches and also in doing their part to promote the sports and also a healthy lifestyle.
Among the others involved in similar set-ups in the Klang Valley are Cheah Soon Kit (Coronar Sports); Jack Koh, Ong Soon Chiang and Lee Chong Wei (Looi Badminton Acadamey) and Yeoh Kay Bin, K. Yogendran and Lee Tsuen Seng (New Vision Badminton Centre).
National women’s singles shuttler Wong Mew Choo also owns a training centre in Sri Serdang.
Wan Wah said yesterday that their main goal was to open four centres and eventually, each one of them would manage and run the business and training programmes in different venues.
They have set up one at the Endah Parade in Sri Petaling. Two others are in the pipeline with one based at One Shemlin in Cheras while the other location will be revealed later.
To get involvement from people in all walks of life to participate in the game, they have allotted a slot for enthusiasts from less fortunate groups to play for free during weekend from 9am-2pm.
“This is something that we had always wanted to do. It has been a challenging task to set it up and we are happy that our centre has finally taken shape,” said Wan Wah.
He thanked Ter Leong Yap, the managing director of Sunsuria Development Sdn Bhd, who was their financial backbone in setting up the 10-court badminton hall. Their other partners are Dunlop, Li Ning, Asics, Fleet, Protech and Recharge.
“We have received so much (as players before) and now it is our time to give back to the community,” said Wan Wah.
“It is not only about making money but also an intention to share our experiences with youngsters, who have big dreams.”
Choong Hann, who has represented Malaysia for more than decade before leaving the BAM after the 2008 Beijing Olympics said that it was a significant moment for them.
“This is a new beginning for us. For now, our focus is to run this business smoothly and get our footing right,” he said.
“Eventually, we will focus more on the coaching of juniors and development programmes. It would be a great achievement and satisfaction for us if we are able to produce a world beater. It will take time but that is our long-term goal.”
Choong Hann will continue playing in international tournaments as an independent player. He will take part in Copenhagen Masters from Dec 27-29 and together with others, they have submit entries for the new season’s Super Series tournament in Malaysia and South Korea next month.