PETALING JAYA: The current crop of national badminton players are indeed a lucky lot compared to those in the past, veteran coach Moe Chin Kiat points out.
Chin Kiat, who started out as a coach with the national team from 1969 before bowing out in 1990 when the Badminton Association of Malaysia got involved in the Marlboro Thomas Cup project, says BAM were not a rich association in the early days.
“There were no sponsors at all and there was no such thing as full-time training. The players also had little chance to go overseas for competitions, not even the Open tournaments or World Championships,” he recalled.
That was the period when Malaysian badminton went through lean times after the heydays of Eddy Choong, Tan Aik Huang, Tan Aik Mong, Punch Gunalan and Ng Boon Bee.
Memories came flooding back as the veteran talked about the old times.
Chin Kiat, 69, remembers he had a refrigerator, which was used not for storing food but to keep shuttlecocks.
“We had no money to buy good quality shuttlecocks. We often sourced for cheaper shuttlecocks outside.
“The shuttlecocks were cheap but they travelled faster. That’s why I kept them in the fridge to slow them down.”
The first time the national badminton players got together for centralised training was in the preparation for the Thomas Cup Finals in 1975, which was held in Bangkok.
He remembered coaches then had to pass the hat around to buy food for the players.
“We were training at MABA House then and sometimes people would pay for our lunch. They knew who we were. Until today, I do not know who they were.”
Among the players in the national squad under head coach Punch Gunalan then were James Selvaraj and Moo Foot Lian.
The centralised training stint paid off when Malaysia managed to qualify for the final. Although the team lost to Indonesia in the decider, Malaysia were able to beat Denmark in the second round.
“That was when everyone began to see the advantages of centralised training.”