KUALA LUMPUR: Tan Sri Norza Zakaria, the president of the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM), is one really astute office bearer.
Despite the gloomy circumstances brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic, Norza is already planning ahead to ensure the BAM will stand in good stead financially.
Their current two biggest backers are sporting equipment manufacturer Victor and network provider Celcom Axiata.
With Victor, BAM have a RM60mil six-year deal which runs until 2021 while their RM34mil four-year deal with Celcom Axiata will come to an end this year.
There’s certainly no time to be wasted as Norza was seen entertaining a visit from Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia (ACCCIM) president Tan Sri Ter Leong Yap at the Academy Badminton Malaysia (ABM) on Tuesday.
Leong Yap and his entourage were taken for a tour around the state-of-the-art national team training centre that houses more than 120 players including the junior squad.
Norza readily revealed that he has been constantly inviting business associates to the ABM with the hope of roping them in to become partners.
“As BAM president, I have to find ways to bring in money,” said Norza. “There are many ways to do it, monetising our facilities is one of them. We’re trying to get the corporate companies to come on board, it can be in the form of sponsoring the court or naming rights for the building.
“So I invite my friends and show them what we have. We’re no longer just a national team with just senior and back-up squads, we also have juniors all placed under one roof at the ABM.
“We even show them the classes where the kids do their homeschooling here.
“As ACCCIM president, Tan Sri Ter (Leong Yap) has got good connections with many businessmen, hopefully he could help us out.
“In this trying times, it’s imperative we must try to get more private sponsors on board and reduce reliance on funding from the government.”
Norza has stressed the importance of the BAM having a healthy financial balance sheet if they aspire to make Malaysia a major badminton force once more.
Norza aims to build a huge war chest to fund players to more tournaments when the situation returns to normal.
“For now, I would say we’re financially stable. But if we want to conquer the world, we must be ready with strong financial power,” said Norza.
“It’s our goal to fast track some of our juniors’ progress so we will send them to tournaments on a regular basis, just like their seniors. We’re looking at around entering them for 12-15 tournaments a year.
“If they can make the most of the opportunity, then they will be able move up fast on the world rankings. I have made it clear that we no longer rank the players’ seniority based on their age or years they spend with the team. It’s all about merit.”
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