KUALA LUMPUR: News of Indonesian Indra Gunawan's return to Malaysia to train the Ong Ewe Hock-led band of shuttlers has not caused any uneasiness to current national chief singles coach Misbun Sidek.
Misbun said yesterday that he welcomed the idea of more players from outside the Badminton Association of Malaysia's (BAM) fold giving healthy competition to those in the national team as long as there was no self-interest involved.
“If Indra is coming back to train the former national players, it is a very good development for the sport,” said Misbun, who took over the job as the chief singles coach from the Indonesian at the start of the year.
“Having additional clubs will create stronger and stiffer competition and this will spur the national players under my charge to realise that they have to constantly stay on their toes.
“But I also hope that this group of former BAM players are not just out to prove the association wrong by coming together to form a club.
“They should instead strive to improve on their own game and climb up the world rankings.”
Veteran Ewe Hock was among the players dropped from the national team last month.
They have been training on their own. Last week, they secured a one-year sponsorship from car distributors Naza Kia to play in tournaments.
The national discards stole the show in the Selangor Open last week.
Ismail Saman won the men's singles title and Ewe Hock partnered Ng Kean Kok to finish as the runners-up to national number two Choong Tan Fook in the men's doubles.
Indra will be making his first visit to Malaysia since he left for home after his contract was not renewed by the BAM at the end of last year.
During his visit, he will, from Monday, help Ewe Hock, Ismail and Sairul Amar Ayob in their preparations for the Open tournaments in Japan and South Korea next month.
Misbun, who won the 2002 Coach of the Year Award last week, said he had nothing against the former players and he had resolved to accept their challenge to bring up the national players.
“It is good if they are still serious in playing top-level badminton. In fact, I was not surprised that Ismail won the Selangor Open. He has just left the national squad and his level is still on par with the national players,” said Misbun.
“They have greater motivation to succeed now that they are independent and no longer get support from the BAM.
“For me, I will go all out to take my players to great heights. It is no different to the time when I coached at Nusa Mahsuri (another professional club).
“Only this time, the stakes are higher because I have to deal with players with different needs. My reputation is also at stake.”
The Ewe Hock-led group, who train at the Kong Ming Badminton Hall in Balakong, comprise 10 players and they include players from the disbanded Project squad.
But only five players are under the Naza Kia sponsorship. They are Ewe Hock, Ismail, Sairul, Allan Tai and Ng Kean Kok.
On Tuesday, Ewe Hock, in revealing that Indra will help train them for the Japan and Korean Open tournaments, said that now that they had secured a sponsorship, they hoped to work out a deal to get their former coach to be with the group for a longer term.