PETALING JAYA: For more than three decades, veteran badminton coach Moe Chin Kiat was almost part of the furnishing at the Selangor BA (SBA) Hall in Kampung Attap.
He would be the first to arrive there before 6am and among the last to leave.
Virtually all the current national players from Selangor have passed through his hands.
But Chin Kiat decided to call it a day in August last year and devote himself to full-time involvement with disabled players under the Malaysia Paralympic Council (MPC).
Now 69, Chin Kiat felt it was the right way to go after six years of juggling his time between the disabled and the able-bodied.
“I have been coaching and helping the disabled shuttlers since 1998 while I was still involved with SBA.
“But I realised as the years went by that getting the disabled players to learn badminton was more challenging than coaching the able-bodied players. They are willing to work hard but they have limitations.
“I find it a challenge trying to work with them and turning them into good players,” said Chin Kiat who, for his contributions, was honoured with the Special Coach award at the National Coaches Awards on Tuesday.
He now works with the disabled shuttlers every first and third Saturdays of the month at the Kampung Pandan Sports Complex.
Chin Kiat receives little in monetary returns but he takes great satisfaction from his work.
And it is not surprising that many call him “ciku,” an affectionate form of cikgu (teacher).
So many players from all ages have come under his tutelage, ranging from James Selvaraj and Moo Foot Lian, Misbun Sidek to Foo Kok Keong. From the current crop of internationals, Chan Chong Ming, Ong Soon Hock, Tan Bin Shen and Woon Sze Mei were once his students.
Such is Chin Kiat's love for the game and his charges that he even buys the children breakfast, lunch or dinner from his own pocket. He gives them shoes and t-shirts. With his calloused hands, he repairs their equipments when the strings of their racquets snap.
And for some, he has even provided accommodation.
“Players like Chong Ming, Soon Hock and Bin Shen used to rough it out in my house because their homes were too far away from where they trained.
“They had to get up very early to get a bus to come to the SBA and I wanted to give them more time to rest,” said Chin Kiat, who also coached the national team from 1969-1990.
The players still call on him at times – even those who have grown up and migrated overseas. They all remember him when they come back to Malaysia.
And luckily, Malaysia remembers him too.