BAM’s sponsorship money funds grassroots development in states

Development is crucial in any sport. While the attention is often placed on elite athletes, plenty of work takes place at the grassroots level in a bid to unearth the best talents.

Part of the BA of Malaysia’s (BAM) sponsorship money has been invested in development programmes.

The funding has enabled state badminton associations to carry out their programmes, while the best shuttlers in the nation will graduate to the junior squad.

BAM has been enjoying a steady stream of corporate sponsors in the past. In March, Petronas and Petronas Dagangan Bhd inked a lucrative three-year deal with the national body.

“BAM’s development committee manages the national junior squad, comprising players aged between 13 and 18,” said BAM vice-president and development committee chairman, Datuk Ng Chin Chai.

“Training is conducted by director of youth development, Datuk Misbun Sidek, and a team of 10 coaches supported by the national body’s sports science officers.”

The players are based in Akademi Badminton Malaysia, where accommodation, food, and even education, by Regent International School, are provided.

“The short-term targets for these players are to win medals at the Youth Olympic Games, World Junior Championships, Asian Youth Games, Badminton Asian Junior (Under-19) Championships and Badminton Asia Under-17 and Under-15 Championships.

“The long-term targets are to produce a pool of high-performance players to represent Malaysia to win medals at major international tournaments such as the Olympic Games, World Championships Thomas and Uber Cups, Sudirman Cup, Asian Games and the Commonwealth Games.”

In January, 18 players aged 18 and 19 were promoted from the national junior squad to the national team.

In December 2021, the national body carried out a talent identification selection trial that was attended by 98 players aged 13 and 14, who were nominated by their respective state BAs.

“A total of 33 players were selected from the talent identification programme and joined Akademi Badminton Malaysia on March 21.”

In January, BAM conducted another talent identification selection trial for 74 players, aged 15 and 17. Ten national junior squad players also took part in the trials. The players were assessed accordingly, and four of the national junior players were dropped, while 21 new players were absorbed into the national junior squad on March 28.

There are 88 players in the national junior squad this year.

“Most of the successful national players graduated from BAM’s national junior squad. They include Datuk Lee Chong Wei, Datin Wong Mew Choo, Koo Kien Keat, Tan Boon Heong, Goh Liu Ying, Tan Wee Kiong, Goh V Shem, Chong Wei Feng, Liew Daren, Mohd Arif Abdul Latif, Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin, Soniia Cheah, Aaron Chia, Soh Wooi Yik, Lee Zi Zia, Kisona S, Goh Jin Wei, Nur Izzuddin Rumsani, Goh Sze Fei, M. Thinaah, Pearly Tan and Ng Tze Yong.

“The annual budget (spent on the national junior squad) is approximately RM5 million.”

Ng added that the development committee also monitors the development programmes of the 15 state BAs.

“BAM provides annual grants of approximately RM250,000 to each of the 15 state BAs, which comes up to roughly RM4 million.

“The grants are for coaches’ salaries, shuttlecocks, court rental, electricity charges, participation in national age-group tournaments, organising tournaments, and administration costs, among others.”

Ng added that the state BAs have approximately 50 players each, from the ages of nine to 18, training at the state and district levels, throughout the year.

“BAM organises around 12 national age-group tournaments annually, where players under the state development programmes are evaluated.

“BAM also provides grants to state BAs to organise two age group tournaments annually in each state, with the goal of identifying talents.

He added that the state BAs were required to furnish monthly reports to BAM on their training programmes and results.

Ng highlighted that a coach education panel had been formed under his committee. The panel organises various coaching courses and clinics to educate and train badminton enthusiasts to become badminton coaches.

“Among the courses organised and funded by BAM nationwide are Levels 1, 2 and 3 coaching courses, basic badminton training clinics, World Badminton Federation Levels 1 and 2 coaching courses, and workshops for the training of tutors and coaches, as part of the continuous learning programme for national and state coaches.

“Due to revisions in the coaching courses’ manual and the Covid-19 pandemic, very few courses were held over the past three years. BAM, however, intends to carry out more courses this year,” Ng added.

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