PETALING JAYA: Former Indonesian doubles ace Eng Hian (pic) has leapt to his countrymen’s defence for leaving their home country to seek coaching opportunities elsewhere, including his former partner Flandi Limpele who’s currently serving their arch-rivals Malaysia.
The Badminton Association of Malaysia have hired a host of Indonesian coaches for their coaching set-up, with four of them currently heading their respective departments.
They are Hendrawan, who’s in charge of the men’s singles squad, Flandi Limpele (men’s doubles), Indra Wijaya (women’s singles) and Paulus Firman (mixed doubles).
Hendrawan and Flandi, in particular, have made a great impact by guiding their charges Lee Zii Jia and Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik to the All-England title and Tokyo Olympics bronze medal respectively.
Aaron-Wooi Yik dashed Indonesia’s hopes of reclaiming their long lost glory in the men’s doubles at the Olympics when they took down world No. 1 Kevin Sanjaya-Marcus Fernaldi and No. 2 Mohammad Ahsan-Hendra Setiawan in the quarter-finals and bronze playoff.
It also marked the third consecutive Olympics that Indonesian pairs have returned home empty- handed.
Eng Hian, who inspired Greysia Polii-Apriyani Rahayu to their country’s first ever Olympics gold in the women’s doubles at the Tokyo Games, believes most Indonesians would love to serve their country if given the opportunity.
“Everyone wants to coach in their own country. However, the number of coaches on the national team is limited,” said Eng Hian, who has coached the Singapore national team from 2007-2012, in an interview with Badminton Asia.
“We still need to take care of our own livelihoods, earn money for the family, and more.
“For me, coaches can work anywhere because again, the opportunity to coach the national team is limited so if we meet on the court and they are coaching a different country, it’s fine because it is our job.
“We have our needs, and our jobs that we need to fulfil within our capacities.”
During their heyday, Eng Hian and Flandi were best known for winning the 2004 Athens Olympics bronze.
Eng Hian said he still maintains a close friendship with Flandi.
“Our personal relationship has always been good. Even before we were partners we were already close,” he said.
“Since we’d been partners, we still talk to each other and have a good relationship. In terms of him being in Malaysia and me in Indonesia, there’s no problem because we work in different sectors – I coach the women’s doubles, he coaches the men’s doubles.
“Even if we went up against each other, it wouldn’t be a problem because we are professionals.
“There are things that happen on the court and then off the court, we have coffee with each other!”
The other notable Indonesian coaches working abroad are Rexy Mainaky (Thailand), Mulyo Handoyo (Singapore) and Namrih Suroto (India).
Even Tokyo Olympics surprise package Kevin Cordon is being coached by an Indonesian Muamar Gadafi.
Cordon made heads turn by going all the way to the semi-finals before losing to eventual gold medallist Viktor Axelsen.
He eventually settled for fourth after losing to Indonesia’s Anthony Ginting in the bronze playoff.