PETALING JAYA: The Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) are on the hunt for a high- performance director to revive the national junior team.
They have not decided on the man for the job but former internationals such as Rashid Sidek, Datuk Razif Sidek, Ong Ewe Hock and Yap Kim Hock may be in the running for the hot seat given their past experiences.
It is unlikely that the BAM will hire a high-profile foreigner as the national body are running on a tight budget.
Razif had earlier called for the appointment of a coaching director for the junior set-up to ensure the juniors get the best attention too.
BAM secretary Datuk Kenny Goh confirmed that the national body are looking to hire someone to restore order in their national junior coaching and training set-up at the Bukit Jalil Sports School (BJSS).
The BJSS have two departments – the Under-18 and Under-15 – headed by Kwan Yoke Meng and Mohd Hafiz Hashim respectively.
“It’s in the pipeline, ” said Kenny.
“We’re still searching for the right candidate. We want to make sure we get the right person for the job.
“The task is massive as he will be overseeing a long-term plan for the future spanning two Olympic cycles up to 2028.
“We have to accept the fact that Malaysia are lagging behind and something has to be done. Our junior development programme needs a revamp, ” he said.
There is a pressing need for a national junior team supremo as the BJSS students will be relocated to the state-of-the-art Academy Badminton Malaysia in Bukit Kiara next year and they will be training on a full-time basis.
The junior chief is expected to work closely with the BAM’s national coaching director Wong Choong Hann, who is set to be the guardian of the soon-to-be launched Project ’24.
The BAM are taking drastic measures in the wake of Malaysia’s failure to win a medal from both the World Junior Championships in Kazan, Russia, two weeks ago and Asian Junior Championships in Suzhou, China, in July.
Malaysia failed to finish among the top-eight sides in the mixed team event for the first time in the tournament’s history.
To rub salt into Malaysia’s wounds, even France claimed their first-ever medal at the world junior meet when Christo Popov emerged runner-up in the boys’ singles.
Kenny said other countries have improved by leaps and bounds and he credited the Badminton World Federation (BWF) for their initiatives.
“They have done many development programmes, including the BWF Shuttle Time, where they have reached out to many non-badminton playing countries to popularise the sport, ” he said.
“Badminton offers lucrative prize money too and it has encouraged many nations to take the sport seriously.”