Lee aims to groom Japan youngsters into world-beaters

PETALING JAYA: Former international shuttler Lee Wan Wah is all excited to join Japan under the leadership of Park Joo-bong.

The 43-year-old confirmed yesterday that he has been appointed as Japan’s junior team coach and will be in charge of the boys’ side. He joins fellow Malaysian Jeremy Gan, who’s serving as the mixed doubles coach.

Wan Wah has been handed a one-year contract and will begin work on April 1.

His main task is to produce medallists at the Asian Junior Championships in China from July 11-14 and World Junior Championships in Russia from Oct 7-13.

The two-time world championships bronze medallist said it was an honour to join Japan, which he billed as “the best team at the moment”.

“It’s a great privilege for me to be part of Japan’s national team coaching staff, I’m truly honoured,” said Wan Wah.

“I’m going to learn as much as I can from them. There’s an established system in place there and Japan are the best team at the moment.

“Japan have world-class shuttlers in every department now and it is my mission to groom more talented youngsters into world-beaters.”

Earlier it was learnt that Wan Wah would replace Indonesian Reony Mainaky as the national men’s doubles coach.

“I was approached by Japan BA in December for the junior post while Reony only resigned last week. It was just a coincidence. I was in Japan over the weekend to seal the deal,” added Wan Wah.

He said the decision to work abroad for the first time have received blessings from his family and business partners.

Wan Wah is one of the co-founders of Pioneer Badminton Academy which he started with Wong Choong Hann, Chan Chong Ming and Chew Choon Eng after leaving the national team in 2008.

“My family and friends encouraged me to go, they all played a role in my decision making,” he said.

Wan Wah said he would brush up on the Japanese language to be effective in his new job.

“I’ll sign up for Japanese language classes. I can speak a few lines, I picked it up when I used to play in the Japanese league (from 2008-2012), but I can’t hold a conversation,” he said.

Besides Wan Wah and Jeremy, the other former internationals who are enjoying a successful coaching stint abroad are Tan Kim Her, Choong Tan Fook and Wong Tat Meng.

Kim Her is with the Indian national team while Tan Fook, Wan Wah’s former partner, is with Hong Kong. Tat Meng is coaching the Scotland national team.

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