COME May 20-27, the focus of badminton fans around the world will be on the Thomas Cup Finals in Wuhan, China. The participating teams have announced their strongest possible line-up for this prestigious tournament.
As I was running through the name list of players (The Star, May 10) Group C, in which our country has been drawn, it looked the most challenging.
I felt worried. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining about our squad. I believe that the squad named is the best we have in the country at the moment and I fully trust this bunch will carry our fight well in this tournament.
In the Danish squad, I saw this name, Viktor Axelsen. Yes, this was the player that our young Zulfadli Zulkifli beat en route to his World Junior men’s single title in 2011.
Despite the loss, the young Danish has done very well in making it into his national Thomas Cup squad. Looking at the names in that squad, it is surely a respectable feat.
I think we should be on our toes. I can only hope that the experts in our badminton fraternity do have a good plan in place for our young and talented Zulfadli. My only wish is that all is in order to assist him to excel and attain his fullest potential in the badminton world and bring glory to our country.
I have my reasons for concern. I have witnessed many times before that some of our young players were at par with the players from other countries in the same age group, but were overtaken by their counterparts at senior level.
This causes me to suspect that there are weaknesses in our development programmes and plans. I hope that Zulfadli is in good hands as I believe he is in the forefront of those who will succeed our badmintion supremo, Datuk Lee Chong Wei, in the near future.
I appeal to BAM, Zulfadli’s current management, the Sports Ministry, National Sports Council, and all other relevant bodies and individuals to help and ensure this young talent will be provided with the best support – be it coaching, facilities or funding – in the name of producing another champion.
If there are any shortcomings, sort them out quickly and cohesively.
And to Zulfadli, I hope my lauding here will spur and motivate you to work even harder to excel in this tough and highly competitive sport.
As for the current Thomas Cup squad, I know the odds are heavily stacked against you, but as long you play your best, I believe many Malaysians like me will be fully behind you all the way.