KUALA LUMPUR: Another former top junior shuttler Mohd Arif Abdul Latif has joined the leave-the-BAM exodus in a bid to seek “fresh and greener pastures”.
Yesterday, Arif, a former Asian Junior runner-up, and currently a strong contender to represent Malaysia in next year’s Thomas Cup Finals as the fourth player, said that he had handed his resignation letter to the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM).
The 23-year-old Arif, known for his fighting spirit on court, said that he had ended his tie with BAM after 10 years because he felt that his game had turned stagnant.
Arif, who trains under former world champion Hendrawan of Indonesia, is the third big name to leave the men’s singles department this year after reigning national champion Misbun Ramdan Misbun and Chan Kwong Beng.
In recent times — Tan Chun Seang and Lim Fang Yang also left. Vountus Indra Mawan (men’s doubles), his sister Sannatasah Saniru (girls’ singles) and several others have also ended their stint with the BAM for various reasons.
All these players were earmarked by the BAM as the players for the future but none had won any major tournaments.
Arif is currently the country’s fourth ranked player after Lee Chong Wei, Chong Wei Feng and Liew Daren. He joined the BAM’s Academy as a Form One student in 2003 and made it to the national team in 2008 after ending his junior career on high.
In 2007, he defeated Chen Long of China en route to leading Malaysia’s to the team title at the Asian Junior Championships but in the final of the individual event, he lost to Chen Long.
In the same year, he went down fighting to Kenichi Tago of Japan in the quarter-finals of the World Junior Championships in Auckland, New Zealand.
However, his journey in the national back-up squad had been a roller-coaster ride since then.
Arif was named as the fourth player in the 2008 Thomas Cup Finals squad, reached the semi-finals of the Hong Kong Open Super Series and made several quarter-final appearances in the Grand Prix Gold events. He also lost in the first round to unheralded players and was banned from competing in All-England last year for under-performing.
“I have been playing without motivation for the last few months and decided to make a decision about my career. I have handed my resignation letters to four people on Friday — the BAM’s outgoing president Datuk Seri Nadzmi Mohd Salleh, general manager Kenny Goh, outgoing coaching and training chairman Ng Chin Chai and National Sports Council (NSC) director general Datuk Zolkples,” said Arif.
“I have arrived at one stage where I am stuck in my badminton career. I am looking for a change as I am still very much in love with badminton. I want to represent Malaysia in the World Championships and 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games.”
Arif, who is first reserve for this year’s World Championships in Guangzhou from Aug 5-11, will be competing in the Indonesia and Taiwan Open Grand Prix Gold events next and he is hoping the BAM will allow him to leave.
“I will train on my own and will look for a sponsor and plan my things as an independent player. I need to do this to take my game to a higher level,” added Arif, who is the third among his sibling to walk out on the national team following the path of his elder brothers Zakry and Razif.
Arif, said that he relished his junior days when he enjoyed a good relationship with his coach.
“China’s Sun Chenhua was my coach then and he knew how to manage me. When I was down or not motivated, he always had a way to get me back on my feet. I enjoyed working under him,” he said.
With Arif and Ramdan out this year, Hendrawan’s group of players has dwindled down to five players – Goh Soon Huat, Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin, Loh Wei Sheng, Nur Azryn Ayub and Goh Giap Chin.