Not missing a beat

Still hooked on badminton: If Misbun isn’t training the kids, he’ll be out fishing – a great past time of his.

FORMER great Datuk Misbun Sidek will reveal his new ‘’home’’ as a coach when the time is right but while the negotiation process is going on quietly, he is keeping himself busy and cooking up some plans.

What have you been doing while waiting to decide on the offers you have received to coach abroad?

I’ve been training the kids at Nusa Mahsuri. I’ve also been fishing, which is a great past time of mine. I caught lots of fishes at this one particular place, and the owner put it up on social media, and just within hours, there were over 60,000 likes.

I’m also excited with the ‘’Sons of Sidek’’ exhibition that will take place at Muzium Sultan Alam Shah in Shah Alam for six months starting on Nov 1. We, the brothers, have been busy digging up all our trophies and memorabilia to be displayed. As the elder brother, I’ve been helping to coordinate. The entrance for the public is free. We will be at the launch (date will be revealed soon). Just excited to be part of this.

Have you decided on which country you will pursue your coaching career and would you prefer a short or long term stint abroad?

The duration doesn’t matter. What’s important is that I’m given the complete support and authority to run the programme without interference.

I’m still evaluating offers, but I will announce it when everything is finalised.

Is there a reason on why our local coaches tend to do well abroad, instead of at home?

I’ve a simple answer for this. We take our local coaches for granted here. I mean, we are quite comfortable and familiar with the local coaches, and we assume that what they teach here is normal. The players get used to the coaches and their surroundings. However, when these local coaches go abroad, especially the ones who are well known, the foreign players show respect and value their coaching. This is the same everywhere, actually. We look up to foreign coaches and show respect to them but these coaches experience the same treatment back at home.

Datuk Misbun, with all the focus on next year’s Olympic Games in Paris, do we stand a chance to win our first gold?

The chance is always there for Malaysia in the Olympics. Remember the 2000 Sydney edition, China’s Ji Xinpeng was not even a strong contender but he won, but we never heard of him again after that. There were others who have done well once and found it hard to replicate that form. It’s quite open in the men’s singles right now with Viktor Axelsen (of Denmark) having a slight edge. If Lee Zii Jia and Ng Tze Yong qualify for Paris, they will stand a chance as well.

Have you seen a player with calibre slip through the system?

There are a few but one of the players that I wished had stayed on is Lim Chong King (two-time men’s singles national champion). He had the build, physique and determination. He, however, had injury issues. He would have gone far if he was managed well.

Badminton has been your life since young and over the many decades, you have seen the sport evolve, so is there any change that you still like to see?

The current scoring format is okay but I’m actually quite keen to see the implementation of the 11 x 5 system.

It will be exciting from the start. Players have to be on their toes and one can’t afford to make mistakes. It’s crucial to be tactical as every point counts. It will be good for fans and sponsors but I don’t think the players will like it. The pressure will be there to be accurate and sharp all the time, and it can be hard on them but it will surely take the game to a higher level.

You have coached the elite and junior squads for many years, have any players challenged your method and style?

It’s a different era now as you can find plenty of coaching tutorials on the internet. Players nowadays come to the training court, having consumed so much knowledge. Unfortunately, many don’t last on the court when they are pushed. I have kept telling them that there are no shortcuts.

They want to learn new skills but get bored when they have to repeat practice drills. How did Lee Chong Wei manage to win back-to-back tournaments many times? He runs on the track regularly, starts early, finishes late and always does the extra... young players only see the results but they don’t see all the backend work.

When I was handling the youths, I used to come to the court at about 4am, mix my own coffee and I will wait for the players. No one dares to come early, because if I see them, I will make them run. This is where I see the character of a player, whether they want to go the extra mile. But I’m not perfect, even at this age (63) I’m still learning as the game continues to evolve.

You have experienced so much as a player in the 1980s and continued to walk tall as a coach for many years, so are you planning to pen down your adventures in a book?

Yes, I’ve been wanting to write a book for some time now. There are so many stories to tell and I want to transfer my knowledge to the next generation too. Now that I’m a free man, I will find time to do it, maybe I will reveal some of the secrets that I’ve kept in my heart all this while (laughs).

If there is one advice you have for the younger generation, what will it be?

Always focus and invest more time on laying the right foundation. Building the foundation takes time and it will be painful but if we get it right, it will ensure our longevity in the game.

As a coach, what gives you the ultimate satisfaction?

To identify the talent, work with the talent and see that the player not only goes all the way to win a title but maintain his position at the top for some time. Chong Wei and a few others have given me that satisfaction but I was not able to achieve that in my recent stint as the national junior coaching director.

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