Out of the picture – deal with Gambardella in doubt

KUALA LUMPUR: It looks like the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) will have to seek a new chief executive officer for the Academy Badminton Malaysia (ABM).

The national body are ready to call off the appointment of renowned sports administrator Robert Gambardella as the 62-year-old American has yet to fly in to Malaysia although he was slated to start work on Aug 1.

Norza said Gambardella’s arrival has been complicated by the Covid-19 pandemic which has hit the United States hard.

But the BAM are not prepared to wait that long as they are running against time to turn the ABM, which houses the national and junior squads, into a self-sustainable establishment by next year.

The centre of exellence, which was built at a cost of RM30mil and opened in 2017, boasts state-of-the-art facilities comprising 18 fully-carpeted courts, mini Sports Science Centre, gymnasium, auditorium and hostel.

And Gambardella’s task is to develop a business model to monetise these facilities.

“Due to the pandemic situation that’s very bad in the US and also his age (factor), he has difficulties flying into Malaysia, ” said Norza.

“We will continue to negotiate with him. But if he keeps delaying, then we will have to look elsewhere.

“I’m sure we’re still able to get other capable individuals to be the CEO of the ABM. We will make a decision by next week.”

In July last year, the BAM raised a few eyebrows when they announced the appointment of Gambardella.

But the long-serving sports administrator did come with a long list of credentials, particularly his successful seven-year stint (2009-2016) in Singapore as the country’s Sports Institute chief, which yielded a historic first Olympics gold medal through swimmer Joseph Schooling.

The other positions he had held previously were as the chief operation officer of USA Shooting, CEO of USA Taekwondo and various top roles with the United States Olympic Committee.

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