Busy days for founder as sport’s popularity grows

Sukdev is pleased that the sport is growing in stature.

AT JOMBOLA’S infancy, it was a question of whether the homegrown racquet sport would even be accepted by the public, but now founder Sukdev Singh considers it as having gone past the point of no return.

These days, Sukdev gets calls from schools asking about the sport and requesting that he conduct introduction clinics, thanks to news of the sport spreading through word of mouth.

Jombola Association Malaysia (JAM) had two tournaments in 2016 and will have a total of six by year’s end.

“It feels great to know that the game as a whole has been moving on its own,” Sukdev said, adding that there is more to do.

“We are grateful to the Educa-tion Ministry for seeing the value and potential of the sport.

“Now that it is under the 1M1S programme, we plan to expand it outwards from schools in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya.

“There are ongoing school tournaments but our next step is to go outside that environment so more people from the community like working adults and parents can also join.”

Sukdev, 63, who had no clue that jombola would become what it is today, had a moment of reflection during the inaugural Jombola Open Tournament 2017 as he watched players compete in a sport he created.

“I can’t believe I created something that didn’t exist and that these guys are playing it,” said Sukdev, who describes himself as just a guy on the street who had an idea.

“One year ago, I knew a lot of the players who played in the tournaments but now I don’t know most of them.”

Behind the scenes, the association is busy with plans to start an academy in Puchong, developing a handicap system for the sport on top of the constant analysing of games, umpire’s decisions, rules, as well as feedback from players.

A recent change made to the game was to reduce the scoring in singles from 15 to 11 points per set, as a result of rallies becoming too long due to the improvement in player’s skills.

“The longer rallies in singles were causing players to become exhausted so we are testing that out, but we have maintained the doubles games at 15 points because of the different dynamics involved in the matches,” Sukdev said.

For now, JAM has started ranking its players and will begin seeding them for their next tournament later this month.

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