Shake-up for Misbun’s juniors

PETALING JAYA: Datuk Misbun Sidek’s national junior programme is in for a massive revamp but his position in the team looks safe – for now.

Misbun, the national junior programme coaching director, has come under fire after the poor performance of his charges in the World Junior Championships in October, when Malaysia could not even get one podium finish – their worst ever result.

The outcome, however, was quite expected. Most of the juniors were first timers, and did not have much competition due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Misbun’s position will depend much on a task force that has just been set up. The task force led by Academy Badminton Malaysia (ABM) chief executive officer Michelle Chai and performance director Dr Tim Jones has been set up to arrest the decline of the juniors.

Michelle and Jones have been given a month to come up with a proposal for changes in the structure of the national junior programme, said Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) president Tan Sri Norza Zakaria said.

“The performance of the juniors in the World Junior meet was frankly, quite disappointing. It’s obvious that the current programme is not good enough,” said Norza at a press conference after the annual BAM council meeting at the ABM in Bukit Kiara yesterday.

“Changes are necessary. Michelle and Tim need to come up with a proposal on areas that need to be improved on. They have a month to do so.”

Asked about Misbun’s position as supremo of the junior team, Norza said: “The task force will look into it. I will wait for feedback from Dr Tim and Michelle.

Norza also said the operations of ABM and the governing body would be separated effective immediately.

“The council has agreed to hand over the running of the ABM to the National Badminton Foundation (NBF),” said Norza.

The NBF, which is owned by BAM will have a board of trustees made up of three to 10 people with 60% of the board consisting of independent individuals while 40% will be BAM representatives.

“The ABM will now function as a high-performance centre.

There will be no more coaching and training committee (headed by Datuk Kenny Goh),” he said.

“The objective is to ensure that the organisation remains commercially sustainable while also producing world-class players. With this separation, BAM will now focus on development of players at state level and administrative matters while ABM will focus on the performance of players.

“We hope that separation of the two entities will bring more transparency and accountability. Sponsors like Petronas will have more confidence in ABM as their funds will be handled by professionals,” explained Norza.

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