Ready for battle: Young Malaysian shuttlers' amazing adventure

  • Family
  • Sunday, 28 Dec 2014

Wan Muhammad Arif, 12, from Terengganu.

Kem Badminton Astro recently sent 30 young Malaysians to a badminton camp in China.

Can success be manufactured, trained or moulded?

Some might say you need inherent talent to be successful, but stepping through the gates of the Li Yongbo Badminton School in Dongguan, China, one can’t help but feel that this might be the place where champions are made.

And when you’re a small town boy from Alor Star like Kok Jing Hong, being in such a place only heightens your dreams further.

Humbling experience

“I really can’t describe it ... I guess I am in awe,” said Kok.

Li Yongbo Badminton School’s (LYBS) head coach Xiao Jie addressing the participants during the joint training session with the LYBS students.

“It feels very surreal actually to walk the halls frequented by the likes of Lin Dan and Chen Long or train in the same court, sleep in the same hostel or even eat at the same dining hall,” added the 12-year-old from SJK (C) Keat Hwa (H).

“It’s not every day that you get an opportunity like this, so it is very humbling for me, being a simple kid from Alor Setar.”

Kok was among 30 very lucky young Malaysians who recently went through an intensive 10-day training at the school during the Kem Badminton Astro programme.

The programme began in May this year with tryouts conducted in Kuala Lumpur and five states – Penang, Johor, Terengganu, Sabah and Sarawak – to select 60 players.

From that number, only the top 30 were shortlisted to travel to Dongguan.

It was an experience none of them will forget soon, seeing as it was the first time travelling out of the country without their parents for almost all of them.

Poopathi Velayutham (left) from Kedah is among the participants who stood out in the camp.

Kem Badminton Astro

Launched in 2012, Kem Badminton Astro was initiated by Astro Kasih as a platform to engage youths aged 12 and below to encourage and drive their dream of becoming the next world badminton champion. Over 4,300 kids have participated in the Kem Badminton Astro over the past two years. This year’s camp had 1,500 participants, with the top 30 (20 boys and 10 girls) selected to undergo an intensive training programme at the Li Yongbo Badminton School.

The training at the prestigious badminton school is hoped to inspire the young ones to excel and achieve their dream of probably becoming the next Lee Chong Wei or Lin Dan.

Part of the intensive training programme included fitness drills, some gym tutorials, a hill run and skills work, as well as an exhibition match.

Sabah’s Demond Anthony Samin gets a tutorial on weight training.

“The first couple of days took some getting used to and the training was really tough, but rather enjoyable because I was exposed to different methods from what I was used to. There was a lot of focus on perfecting footwork, sharpening skills like chopping and stamina, basically learning to be more efficient on court,” said Kok.

The current Majlis Sukan Sekolah Malaysia (MSSM) boys’ singles champion took on Cheng Xing, also 12, the Chinese No. 2 junior, in a friendly match on the group’s last day in Dongguan.

Kok won the thrilling encounter 21-17, 22-24, 21-16. And his efforts throughout the week did not go unnoticed as he was recognised as the best participant of the camp by the school’s head coach Xiao Jie.

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