KUALA LUMPUR: Finally, a place to call home.
This was world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei’s initial reaction when the national team began their first day of training at the newly-opened Academy Badminton Malaysia (ABM) in Bukit Kiara.
The ABM, built at a cost of RM31mil and which has 18 fully-carpeted courts, is the culmination of the Badminton Association of Malaysia’s (BAM) dream of having a home of their own.
Construction of the ABM began more than two years ago. A total of 120 players can train at the academy daily.
Chong Wei hopes that the juniors will be motivated to produce better results now that they have a new hall equipped with world-class facilities.
Said Chong Wei: “I’ve come through many training centres with the national team but this is the best.
“It’s the best home a badminton player can have. We can call it BAM’s home for the first time.
“I used to envy the training halls of other countries ... now, we have one equally as good. All of us need to treat it as our own home,” he said yesterday.
“We are only allowed to wear certain type of shoes inside the hall because of the expensive flooring. It’s our responsibility to take care and maintain this place.
“It’s too bad that this place is only ready now ... when I’m heading towards retirement. I wish we had a centre like this during my junior days.
“Those days we use to get angry because there weren’t enough courts. Now, everyone can train at the same time.”
Chong Wei began his junior days when the national training centre was at Taman Maluri in Cheras. They then moved to Bukit Jalil Sports Complex before shifting again to Stadium Juara in Bukit Kiara.
Stadium Juara will undergo some refurbishment works and will be used to host netball during the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games in August. After that, the Bukit Jalil Sports School (BJSS) shuttlers will use it for daily training.
BAM president Tan Sri Mohd Al-Amin Abdul Majid, who took the media on a tour of the academy yesterday, said that the players’ hostel, which is adjacent to the training hall, would be ready in April.
The hostel can accommodate 200 people.
“The players and our office staff have moved. Our players will shift to the new hostel once it’s completed. This is a milestone for BAM,” said Al-Amin, who estimates the maintenance cost for the academy to be more than RM300,000 per month.
“We will now be able to house all our juniors and seniors under one roof. I’m sure we will see many more new faces coming through this academy.
Dr Suresh Kumar has been appointed as the ABM building manager.
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