KUALA LUMPUR: Wong Choong Hann, the Badminton Association of Malaysia’s (BAM) coaching director, is excited over the prospect of working with newly appointed chief executive officer of the Academy Badminton Malaysia (ABM) Robert Gambardella.
Choong Hann, as well as national junior team supremo Datuk Misbun Sidek, are among the heads of departments reporting to the 62-year-old American, who will begin his duty next month on a two-year contract.
Choong Hann sees Gambardella as a good addition to the set-up as he’s hoping to learn management skills and tap into the latter’s sports science expertise to beef up the national shuttlers.
“Yes, of course... why not?” responded Choong Hann when asked if he’s “okay” with working under Gambardella.
“We are always looking forward to working with a great personality and someone with vast experience.
“From what I learned about Robert, he’s an expert in sports science and management of an organisation.
“As his appointment had just been made, it’s too premature to discuss in detail how we’re going about it for now.
“But I certainly hope to work closely with him to bring the best out of our shuttlers and produce good results.”
BAM president Datuk Seri Norza Zakaria stressed that Gambardella will be playing an all-rounded role.
“I look at Robert’s presence as a leading figure of an institution, ” said Norza.
“It’s similar to a school, where you need to have a principal. He will be leading the entire ABM operations which include sports science, facilities management, marketing and sponsorships and not necessarily departments under Choong Hann or Misbun.
“Robert’s role will be to assist them (the heads of departments), analyse where we are now and set the strategies and the direction we’re heading.
“The ultimate goal is to turn the ABM into a world-class organisation.”
Gambardella boasts an impressive CV which saw him head the United States national sport governing bodies of taekwondo and shooting. He was also holding directorial positions with the US Olympic Committee.
But Gambardella’s arguably best stint was his seven-year tenure with the Singapore Sports Institute (SSI) from 2009-2016.
According to reports in Singapore, Gambardella was instrumental in helping the country win their first Olympics gold through their swimming star Joseph Schooling, apart from the best-ever 84 gold-medal haul at the home SEA Games in 2015.
Gambardella is credited with bringing in renowned swimming coach Sergio Lopez, the man who oversaw Schooling’s rise at the Bolles School in Florida, to be the head coach of the Singapore team.