FORMER world champion Hen drawan received hundreds of responses from his disappointed fans in Facebook when news broke on his appointment as the singles coach of the Malaysian national team. And even his players could not accept it. The Indonesian tells Starsport’s RAJES PAUL on the difficult decision that he had to take and the new challenges that he is ready to face with the Malaysian team.
AN offer to coach Malaysia is nothing new to me. In fact, it dated back to 2005 during the Thomas Cup qualifying tournament in India.
Then, I was just two years into coaching the Indonesian women’s singles team.
It was Rexy (Mainaky), who approached me first. He asked whether I was interested to coach Malaysia.
That was the start and since then, I have been approached by the Malaysian officials every year until I said yes to them recently.
It took me four years to have the courage to say yes to Malaysia even though I have had offers from Hong Kong, Singapore and Poland.
I could not leave earlier because of my commitment to help the Indonesian team until the Beijing Olympic Games (last August).
I had also started training the men’s singles players in 2007 and my goal was to help Sony (Dwi Kuncoro) and Simon (Santoso) win a medal in Beijing.
My decision to leave did not go down well with the PBSI (All-Indonesia Badminton Federation), my players and the fans.
In my Facebook, fans asked why I was leaving to coach outside Indonesia, especially arch-rivals Malaysia.
The PBSI coaxed me to stay but eventually, they accepted my decision to leave and told me to maintain a good relationship.
Simon was injured during the Korean Open this year and Sony fell to a similar fate during the All-England. I thought that it was the best time to break the news to the players.
I wanted a better future for myself and family. Besides that, I also needed new challenges and the time seemed right to uproot myself from my motherland.
Time, I think, however, will be against me as I prepare the Malaysian team for two major tournaments next year — the Thomas Cup Finals (in Malaysia) and Asian Games (in Guangzhou).
I have won in every Thomas Cup Finals I competed in with Indonesia (1998, 2000, 2002) and I will work hard to help Malaysia win it this time.
I will have about a year to prepare the team and that will be a big challenge to me. But challenges keep me going and I love to set targets.
As a player, targets drove me to succeed. I like to set a high target and go all out to achieve it. And I expect the same from my players.
I have good intentions and I am sincere to serve Malaysian badminton in the best possible way.
To me, having a good relationship with a player is important. But as a coach, I know where to draw a line.
I expect the players to follow the rules I set during training. But off court, I like to treat them just like a dear friend and vice versa.
I hope language will not be a barrier. In Indonesia, I can have a heart-to-heart talk with the players and they can understand what I say. I hope I will be able to put across my thoughts in the best possible way with the Malaysian players.
I admit, though, I had my anxiety after accepting this job. I was worried of the culture in the badminton circle in Malaysia.
I can handle the high expectations and the spotlight on badminton because it is the same in Indonesia. But I need to understand the different culture in Malaysia. I will do my best to adapt to it.
For now, I have not discussed with Malaysia’s coach Rashid (Sidek) or Ganga (Rao, BAM secretary) on who I will be coaching in Malaysia.
I am currently on a one-month break before I report for duty on July 1. But I plan to bring my family for a holiday in Malaysia from June 7-14.
I will pay the players a visit, especially those in the back-up squad. I will also see the BAM and get more details on who I have to work with.
Like Indonesia, Malaysia too are trying to add depth in the singles department. I will try my best to increase the pool of quality men’s singles players in Malaysia.
It appears difficult but nothing is impossible to me.