KUALA LUMPUR: “Do not kill me on the first day, you can do that on the second day,” joked Morten Frost after reporting for duty as the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) new technical director.
Looking smart in a purplish T-shirt, the good-humoured Dane met BAM officials, coaches and players at Stadium Juara in Bukit Kiara on Monday – with a perpetual smile on his face.
“I’m an easy-going person but a hard-working guy ... so, let’s just take it easy and see how it goes until end of the month,” said the 56-year-old Frost in reply to the barrage of questions thrown at him on his plans to revive Malaysian badminton.
He said that he had come prepared and even showed his “mastery” of the local language.
“I know five words now. Selamat pagi (good morning), selamat datang (welcome), terima kasih (thank you), keluar (out), jalan sehala (one way),” he said in between laughs.
But behind all that fun, laughter and bantering, Frost knows the severity and enormity of the task that lies ahead of him.
His return to Malaysian soil after 16 years is under different conditions.
When he was the BAM national coaching director from Feb 16, 1997 to Dec 22, 1999, Malaysia had a pool of players for him to work with and there was quality and depth in the national team.
Frost admitted that Malaysia’s badminton standard had dropped but “I’m ready for the challenging task to put the nation back where it belongs – at the top again”.
“We have slipped a bit. The group and the strength of players we had about 18-20 years ago was different. I’m sure that we can turn things around,” said the former four-time All-England champion.
“It’s sad that Malaysia will not have significant representation in the All-England this year – especially in the men’s singles. We’ make a strong presence there next year.
He will also look into the junior programme at the Bukit Jalil Sports School (BJSS) and go down to the lower level to identify talents at the states.
“I want to look at the school programme. From my experience, I know Malaysia always produced talents. I’m sure that the talents are somewhere, we just have to find them. I want to go to all the 14 states.
“We can reach the top again but it’ll take hard work, solid plans, great dedication and some hard decisions.”
“We will have to be very disciplined to make it work ... and this discipline applies to the players, coaches and myself included.
“Everything will be reviewed. It’s also time for us to be very careful because we’re going into the 2016 Olympic Games qualification period (May 1).
“I have a general idea on what I want to do but I want to settle down first ... get to know the players, coaches and the system,” added Frost, who ended his previous four-year contract 15 months ahead of time.
Asked if he would see out his five-year contract this time, Frost said: “We all make mistakes ... but we learn.”
“I’m coming back here with more experience – that’s what counts. I know Malaysia much better than before. All this will equip me to take Malaysian badminton to greater heights,” added Frost, whose ultimate goal is to help Malaysia win a gold medal at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.