Sponsorship deal will raise bar, prestige of Petronas Akademi Badminton Malaysia

The recent sponsorship deal between Petronas and the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) saw the national oil and gas company’s brand having a place in Akademi Badminton Malaysia.

However, the Petronas Akademi Badminton Malaysia is more than just a name change. It is the beginning of a sustainable journey, namely for the national association.

Petronas Akademi Badminton Malaysia chief executive officer, Dr M. Suresh Kumar, has seen the academy, in Bukit Kiara, evolve – from the day its foundations were laid, to being home to the best shuttlers in Malaysia. He said plans were to take the institution to a whole new level.

“Petronas is a brand recognised worldwide. BAM is a well-known brand in Malaysia. There is certainly synergy between both parties,” said Suresh.

“With them on board, the impact is bigger. They have a lot of ideas, in terms of marketing the place and raising the stature and prestige of the academy.”

The monetisation plan for the academy is also important, as BAM spends some RM3.5 million annually to maintain the building, which also houses its office.

For starters, BAM started renting out the courts at the academy to the public in February. The 18 courts are used by the senior national shuttlers during the day.

“The next step is to rent out our auditorium, which can accommodate 200 people. We are also looking at opening up our gymnasium at night, perhaps via a membership package.”

Suresh admitted there were several factors that must be considered, as the main priority is the wellbeing of the national shuttlers based at the academy. Eighty-seven junior, and 71 senior players, live there. The academy has 65 rooms that can accommodate 200 people.

“With the Covid-19 situation, we must make sure that the bubble is constantly in place … That there will be zero interaction between members of the public, and the players.

“But moving forward, and once the Covid-19 situation eases, we are looking at coming up with activities that will allow members of the public who use our facilities, to get up close and personal with the players. These are among the plans we have in mind.”

There are also plans to rent out a designated area on the ground floor as office spaces. Right now, most of the available space is being used for Covid-19, and anti-doping tests.

Suresh, who has a PhD in Total Quality Management, added that this would create additional visibility for the sponsors, mainly Petronas. The academy could also be given a new coat of paint in colours that reflected the national oil and gas company.

Suresh says the sponsorship deal is timely, as Bukit Kiara continues to develop into a much-coveted address with luxury, resort-like homes being built in the area.

“It’s a landmark. And this landmark will now be amplified through our sponsorship with Petronas. We had Mercedes F1 driver George Russell playing badminton at the academy during his recent visit to Malaysia.

“Videos and pictures of him (Russell) in action were taken, and they will be blasted around the world. So, the academy will now stand in the eyes of the world,” he added.