THE shocking news of Lee Zii Jia’s withdrawal from the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) and the subsequent ban on him and Goh Jin Wei from international tournaments is going to have long-term consequences on the development of badminton in Malaysia.
BAM is, to use a well-worn phrase, between a rock and a hard place. Agreeing with the move could encourage future players from leaving the fold just when BAM has started to build plans around them.
On the other hand, taking a hard stance on those who leave prematurely will be seen as being heartless and uncaring of the player’s personal desires. It would also make upcoming players think twice about joining BAM in the future.
In the end, BAM bit the bullet and went for the stick. To show an appearance of fairness, BAM extended the punishment to a player who had left the fold months earlier. This is basically a lose-lose situation.
Perhaps it’s time for BAM to move with the times and incorporate professionalism in its setup. It has the ecosystem to nurture and grow promising players to become world beaters. It should continue with this role as a national body.
Professional clubs and sponsors (collectively “sponsors”) are also free to do the same. However, they are also free to approach promising and established players in BAM and invite them to become professionals by joining their sponsorship. In return, the sponsors have to pay an annual secondment fee to BAM.
This arrangement has the following advantages:
1. BAM will additionally be partly supported financially by external sponsors.
2. The sponsors will have to be selective in the players they choose.
3. The players will be kept on their toes as the secondment is on an annual basis, meaning that sponsors could stop their sponsorship if the players are not delivering results.
4. Additionally, these players can be available for transfer to other sponsors. BAM will always have the secondment fee as a condition for such transfers.
BAM could draw up a scale for such secondments based on the player’s years under training and achievements.
It would be a bold step if the BAM can adopt such a structure (or its variant).