PETALING JAYA: A one-stop centralised training elite centre is not working for badminton anymore.
Former Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) secretary Datuk Sieh Kok Chi (pic) believes decentralisation is the way to go if Malaysian badminton aim to produce future world beaters.
Japan, Thailand, Denmark and Indonesia are producing results because of their productive club systems.
The 80-year-old Kok Chi said the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) national set-up – which he described as “too centralised” – needed change following their below-par results in international tournaments, including the recent uninspiring Thomas Cup quarter-final defeat in Bangkok.
Kok Chi said constant failures were due to lack of efforts in unearthing and developing talents at grassroots level despite Malaysia being a badminton nation.
He said the BAM were dependent on a small group of players at the top level.
Not all state programmes are vibrant and clubs do not have the access to enter their players directly to the state or national programmes as there are many restrictions and that stunt the growth of clubs in Malaysia.
“I’ve always believed in decentralisation. It gives more options. There are better chances of getting 1,000 good ones than banking on one centre,” said Kok Chi, who retired after serving the OCM for 25 years.
“The problem lies with the existing system as it’s too centralised. Either you make the national team or you can forget about representing the country.
“There are many talented players out there. The best player may not necessarily come from the national team – there could be someone from Gua Musang too!”
Kok Chi said the state sport councils, state badminton associations and independent clubs have pivotal roles to play in helping to build a larger pool of talents – under BAM’s supervision.
The national body should function as a regulatory body and leave the grooming of talents to the states or clubs.
“BAM should not be the one producing players. They are supposed to source for funding, coordinate and let the states and clubs run the show,” said Kok Chi.
“Take the England FA (Football Association of England) for example, they just call up players weeks before going to a major tournament. They don’t produce players, the coach assemble them from respective clubs.
“It’s the same with Lionel Messi, he plays for the Argentinian national team but he’s a product of Barcelona FC. Why can’t this happen in Malaysia?
“I would like to see the state BAs and even the state sport councils doing their part. At the moment, they don’t seem to have an organised development programme and rely on players from sports schools to represent the state when it comes to national level competitions.
“They should not touch the school players but find and train new talents instead.
“They should hold trials and tournaments to encourage participation from the masses, especially school leavers, who often disappear from the radar.
“The pathway to become a national shuttler must go beyond the sports schools,” he said. And Malaysia only have two prominent sport schools for badminton – in Bukit Jalil and Bandar Penawar.