KUALA LUMPUR: Badminton minnows Uzbekistan will be lucky to win even one game against Malaysia in the opening group tie of today’s mixed team competition in the Asian Junior Championships at Stadium Juara in Bukit Kiara.
But thanks to the initiative by the Badminton Asian Confederation (BAC), Uzbekistan should be able to provide a stiffer challenge to others in four years time.
Uzbekistan are one of the teams involved and reaping the benefits of BAC’s programme run by the Asian Development Team.
The team have come up with interesting programmes to lift the profile of smaller badminton nations in a bid to get more quality participation of shuttlers worldwide at the Olympic Games.
The team send coaches to upgrade the standard of the players in different part of the countries in the Asian region and they also invite players to attend training camps.
Three nations – the Philippines, Vietnam and Sri Lanka – just completed their two-week training camp in Kuala Lumpur and their players will now take part in the Asian junior meet.
BAC development officer M. Jivananthan said that they have a three tier group under their programme.
“The first group consist of Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Vietnam, Laos and Pakistan. Their standards are closer to current powerhouses in the Asian junior meet like China, South Korea, Malaysia and Indonesia,” said Jivananthan.
The other two lower groups comprise Syria, Kazakhstan, Maldives, Nepal, followed by Uzbekistan, Cambodia and Mongolia.
Besides the BAC, all the other continental confederations are involved in a similar programme in accordance to the World Badminton Federation (BWF) and International Olympic Committee (IOC)’s objective of bringing the sport to the masses.