Badminton legend Aik Mong on a mission at BAM


Badminton legend Tan Aik Mong visiting the BAM premises at the Juara Stadium on Thursday. Aik Mong chaired a meeting with all the national coaches.

KUALA LUMPUR: It had the feel of an “unofficial” coaching and training committee meeting but former international Tan Aik Mong clarified that he was at the Stadium Juara in Bukit Kiara on Thursday for a specific fact-finding mission.
 
The sprightly 63-year-old chaired a two-hour meeting with the national coaches at the stadium following a directive by Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) president and good friend Tengku Tan Sri Mahaleel Tengku Ariff. 

All were present, except for national singles coaches Rashid Sidek and Tey Seu Bock, who are involved in the Indian Badminton League (IBL) in New Delhi.

Aik Mong’s job is to find out from all the coaches why they are sending their players to three tournaments – Japan Open (from Sept 17-22), Indonesian Open Grand Prix Gold (Sept 24-29) and Malaysian International Under-19 championships in Kuala Lumpur (Sept 10-15).

He wanted them to list down specifically the reasons and purposes for selecting the players and who their opponents will be in these tournaments. 

It was his second meeting with the coaches in two weeks. He had also taken time out to watch the players in training and pay a visit to the National Sports Institute (NSI), where the players undergo their physical training.

Aik Mong’s constant presence in the national set-up and meetings with various stakeholders in the badminton fraternity has raised speculation that he is a highly regarded candidate to manage the national coaches and players under Tengku Mahaleel’s plans, which will be unveiled during the BAM council meeting on Sept 7.

But the cool and composed Aik Mong politely quashed such speculation, insisting that he was just assisting the president.

“I’m just acting like a personal assistant to the BAM president right now. My responsibility today was to talk to the coaches and find out the reasons for sending the players for several international tournaments,” said Aik Mong. 

“The president had asked for my help and I’m merely responding. I’ll compile all the feedback from the coaches and pass them on to the president. That’s it.

“He will decide whether to approve the proposals made by the coaches. It’s the president’s duty to analyse everything. I’m just compiling information for him. I’m retired and, for now, I just enjoy playing golf,” he added with a big smile.

Asked what Malaysian badminton needed right the most right now, he said: “It has to be better management (of coaches and players) ... and I believe Tengku is the right man to do it.”

Aik Mong, who is the younger brother of 1966 All-England champion Tan Aik Huang, also advises the Kelantan Badminton Association (KBA) on coaching and training matters. Tengku Mahaleel is also the KBA president.

Aik Mong has known Tengku Mahaleel since the 60s, when the latter used to play badminton with the Tan siblings. 

Aik Mong was also a national shuttler from 1966-1975 and his best outing was a third placing at the World invitational in 1971. 

He has vast experience in coaching matters as he was the BAM’s coaching and training chairman in 1984 and 1985 under then president Tan Sri Khir Johari. Then, he had the Sidek brothers under his care. He also held the same position with the Kuala Lumpur Badminton Association (KLBA) under the late Datuk Punch Gunalan.
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