BAM to allow top independent shuttlers to play for nation

Outstanding independent player: Liew Daren surprised everyone by winning a bronze medal at the World Championships in Nanjing in August.

Outstanding independent player: Liew Daren surprised everyone by winning a bronze medal at the World Championships in Nanjing in August.

KUALA LUMPUR: Finally, good sense prevailed as the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) decided to give the professional players the blessings to compete in all international tournaments.

Exactly a year ago, the BAM barred professional players from participating in the Grand Prix Gold and Superseries tournaments to give the exclusivity for BAM players to compete.

Yesterday, BAM president Datuk Seri Norza Zakaria said they had relaxed the rule and independent shuttlers would be allowed to compete in all levels of BWF Tour tournaments – a move that will boost the movement of the professional clubs in the country.

Over the last one year, shuttlers from the professional clubs and states only competed in lower-tier meets except for those exempted such as Liew Daren, Chong Wei Feng, Tan Boon Heong, Lim Khim Wah, K. Yogendran, Mohd Arif Abdul Latif, Nur Mohd Azriyn Ayub, Low Juan Shen and Chooi Kah Ming.

Some of these professional players achieved better results than the BAM players. For instance, Daren made heads turn to win a bronze medal at the World Championships in Nanjing, China, in August.

Norza said the BAM realised that it was unfair to prevent the professional players from competing but they also did not want to allow those without a certain standard to play at the international stage.

A clear guideline will be finalised on the status of professional shuttlers at the BAM’s council meeting on Oct 20.

“We are reshaping the national team into a leaner and meaner set-up, and many players have left BAM to resume their career as professionals,” said Norza after the Senheng Purple League’s new season launch yesterday.

“It’s not fair for us to prevent the non-BAM players from competing in higher level tournaments. We are going to let them play but on certain conditions.

“We can’t simply let any Tom, Dick and Harry demand to play. There’s a certain standard to uphold.”

Norza sees the move as a big step forward to engage professional clubs to work alongside BAM in producing talents and champions.

“We want the clubs to nurture players too. It is not the role of BAM alone but other stakeholders can also play their part to produce talents,” said Norza.

“BAM will keep only the best in the national team, and those who can’t make it, we will release them to seek professional careers elsewhere.”

Norza added that the BAM would continue with their open-door policy to allow top independent shuttlers to represent the country in major tournaments if they were good enough and would not feel threatened.

“The players in the national team are supposed to be best in the country. But if the independent shuttlers can do better, why not? We are fine with it because the independent shuttlers bring glory to the country as well.”

norza zakaria , badminton , bam