Malacca badminton riding high

MALACCA: In keeping with its policy of unearthing talents among young children, the Malacca Badminton Association (MBA) held a two-day coaching clinic at its hall in Jalan Tengkera recently.

The programme drew 41 children aged between six and 10 years, who were accompanied by enthusiastic parents or guardians.

The young participants were put through the paces consisting of drills and matches by a panel of trainers headed by the association’s chief coach Choy Ah Sang.

Promising talents were invited to join the MBA Elite Coaching Scheme that would get underway later this month.

The scheme, with year-round training sessions on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, grooms players in the Under-7, -12, -14, -16 and -18 age groups.

Choy said the association discovered a good crop of promising talents through the annual clinics and they were admitted into the Elite Coaching Scheme.

He said that parents were supportive as they realised it was worthwhile for their children to pursue a professional badminton career and represent the state and country.

Association secretary Chua Soo Hock said, unlike previous programmes where the potential talents were identified from age group competitions and groomed at state and national levels, the clinics recruited the talents with the support of parents.

“We want parents to give their blessings because, apart from their encouragement, they can help the children stay dedicated to badminton and not switch to other sports after training for a year or two under our coaches,” he said.

According to association president Dr Khoo Kim Eng, the revamped development programme was effective.

“Until recent times, local badminton was floundering. When the clinics and the Elite Coaching Scheme were introduced with the support of long-term sponsorships, the state’s badminton made a positive turnaround,” said Dr Khoo.

To-date, 11 promising players from the scheme are attached to development and training programmes run by the Bukit Jalil Sports Council and Badminton Association of Malaysia.

These 11 players will form the backbone of the state’s men’s and women’s teams for the upcoming XII Sukma to be hosted by Malacca in June.

Going further, the MBA is confident that the state will take at least three of the seven badminton gold medals at stake.

Shouldering the challenge in the men’s event are Syed Akhbar Shah, Goh Kan Zhuang and Tay Kok Hau (MBA Elite Coaching Scheme), Goh Soon Huat, Jonathan Lee Xu Yuan, Ong Jian Guo, Lim Yu Sheng and Ow Yao Han (Bukit Jalil/BAM).

In the women’s team are Julia Wong, Ong Boon Hui, Tiffany Chase Currier, Lee Meng Yean, Maggie Lim and Goh Liu Ying (Bukit Jalil/BAM), and Yeow Mei Xi and Cecilia Koh (MBA Elite Coaching Scheme).

At the last Sukma in Kuala Terengganu, Malacca picked up a gold and silver through Julia Wong (women’s singles) and the women’s team event respectively.

This time out, with Yao Han (who bagged the 2009 World Junior doubles title partnering Chooi Kah Ming) wearing Malacca colours, MBA is optimistic that he can strike gold in the men’s doubles with Jian Guo. Julia is expected to retain her singles honours while the third gold is expected from the partnership of Jian Guo and Liu Ying in mixed doubles.

The association said the women could also deliver a team gold.

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