PETALING JAYA: Don’t fret, help is on the way.
That is Youth and Sports Minister Hannah Yeoh’s assurance to struggling independent shuttler Lee Zii Jia.
World No. 4 Zii Jia is going through one of the most challenging periods in his career and had taken to social media to vent his frustrations on Friday after his latest loss in the second round of the ongoing German Open.
Zii Jia had posted “I’m .... done” on his Instagram, which was expletive-laden, following a 21-15, 20-22, 21-23 defeat at the hands of Taiwan’s world No. 49 Lee Chia-hao.
The narrow loss was Zii Jia’s sixth successive early-round defeat in individual tournaments since finishing runner-up in the Denmark Open in October.
Hannah was not pleased with Zii Jia’s outburst on the social media platform but empathised with him.
“I contacted him after the match and advised him not to give up,” she said.
“I’ve also arranged for a meeting with him after he returns from Europe and discuss the help that we can give him.
Hannah said she would consider giving athletes social media training and mental strength coaching as well.
A day earlier, former two-time national women’s singles champion Ng Mee Fen had advised Zii Jia to seek help from a sports psychologist or mental trainer to become better.
Former men’s singles great Datuk James Selvaraj had also urged Zii Jia to not give up on his badminton career.
Hannah echoed the two by saying: “Athletes are a source of inspiration to many. At the same time, they also go through ups and downs.
“I don’t want to be in a position now to tell Zii Jia that he shouldn’t do this after he loses a match.
“I want to give him some space and talk to him face-to-face later.
“We cannot forget that athletes are taken from their family and friends at a very young age and placed in a training environment.
“So, I want to be supportive of them.”
Hannah also revealed that Zii Jia will receive support separately under the ‘Road to Gold’ programme for the 2024 Paris Olympics and will disclose the details in a press conference today.
Meanwhile, Hannah officially launched the AFA Superapp which helps to hasten the digitalisation of sports in the country.
The application, which was founded by AFA Community Sdn Bhd chief executive officer Samuel Siew allows users to seamlessly book government and privately-owned sports venues and make payments online.
“This application is a positive development as it helps the ministry monitor the number of sports venues like futsal courts and swimming pools in the country, especially in the smaller districts.
“Thus, we will know which facilities are adequate or lacking in a certain area and look to improve on this,” said Hannah.