Joo Ven lends a hand to struggling fellow indie players

KUALA LUMPUR: Men’s singles shuttler Soong Joo Ven knows the struggles of being an independent player and is determined to come to the aid of others.

The 29-year-old has been slowly building his own group of professional players and wants to invite more to join and train together.

“The main problem that independent singles players face here is that they train separately,” said Joo Ven.

“Many don’t have a proper place to train and anyone to guide them.

“I’m trying to bring more players together, so that they can train and improve. This will benefit all independent players.

“So far, I have about five players training together and more juniors are coming in.

“We also have some foreign players like Brazil’s Ygor Coelho and Azerbaijan’s Ade Resky, who have both qualified for the Paris Olympics in July.

“They are preparing for the Olympics and I’m trying my best to help them.

“I was part of the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) and then have been an independent player for quite long, so I can share my experience with them,” added Joo Ven, who has formed his training base in Tops Arena Empire in Cheras.

Joo Ven, who is currently ranked No. 69 in the world, believes that his new initiative has been benefiting him as well.

“I was struggling a lot last year but I’ve improved after training with this group,” said Joo Ven.

“I reached the World Tour Super 300 Korean Masters and Syed Modi International towards the end of last year and also finished runners-up in the Kazakhstan International Challenge in April.“For now, I just want to keep doing my best. I’m hoping to break into the world’s top 40 this year.”

Joo Ven, though, could not make it to the main draw of the Malaysian Masters after going down 14-21, 21-13, 14-21 to Japan’s Koo Takahashi in the second qualifying round at the Axiata Arena in Bukit Jalil yesterday.

The former had a good opportunity to win after leading 13-9 in the third game but could not maintain his form.

“I was too desperate to get easy points when I was leading in the decider and this led to my defeat,” lamented Joo Ven.

“My opponent’s defence was really good and he gained in confidence when I made unforced errors.

“I’m still lacking some self-belief and I hope to do better after this.”

Joo Ven will next compete in the Australian Open from June 11-16 in Sydney.

Meanwhile, world No. 10 Lee Zii Jia will open his campaign in the first round today against China’s 2022 World Championships bronze medallist Zhao Junpeng while world No. 37 Leong Jun Hao will face another Chinese Lei Lanxi.

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