KUALA LUMPUR: The badminton programme at Bukit Jalil Sports School (BJSS) is going on just fine as far as its role as the feeder for the national team is concerned. The problem lies with the periods before and after the players join the elite sports school.
This is the frank assessment of BJSS doubles chief coach Yap Kim Hock.
He feels there is a serious lack of focus on the 8-12 years old and a veritable ‘black hole’ in the transition period when a player leaves the school to join the national back-up squad.
Kim Hock feels there will be no shortage of credible talent if the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) tie up these two lose ends so that there can be a seamless production process.
This will be Kim Hock’s feedback when the coaches come together at the coaching and training committee meeting on Sept 8 to chart the future of Malaysian badminton.
Kim Hock feels that states should play an active role in promoting the sport to those aged between 8-12. BJSS only caters for players between the ages of 13-17 from Form 1 to Form 5.
“The states should have a centre to cater for this pre-teen age group and tie up programmes with the schools. It will be easier for the parents to monitor their children if they are based in their respective states. However, this age group has been neglected by the states,” said Kim Hock.
“Sometimes, we have to spend extra time in BJSS just to focus on the basics of the game for the players in their first year at the school. The age cap of 8-12 is the perfect time to teach the right way to play the game. If not, they will only bring bad habits with them when they join the BJSS.”
With coaches putting in the extra effort, BJSS, which serves as the BAM Academy, has produced Asian and World junior champions but mainly in the doubles events. Since Kim Hock took as head doubles coach, he has produced either an Asian or World junior champion yearly.
In 2008, Mak Hee Chun-Teo Kok Siang emerged as both the Asian and world junior champions. This was followed with three more world junior champions - Chooi Kah Ming-Ow Yao Han (2009), Ow Yao Han-Yew Hong Kheng (2010) and Nelson Heg Wei Keat-Teo Ee Yi (2011).
Kim Hock said Hee Chun-Kok Siang should have made it big in the senior ranks after four years but they are still struggling to establish themselves. What made it worse was that they were subjected to regular switches in the back-up squad.
“Some of them are not with their regular partners right now. I know that it takes time for a junior to move up in the senior ranks but there should be a more organised system,” he said.
“At least, two pairs from BJSS are promoted to the national back-up team every year. The numbers in the back-up squad keep on snowballing. There should be a senior and back-up squad with specific targets for them. There’s no point keeping a big number if some of them are not contributing.
“It is better for coaches to focus on a smaller group to provide quality training.”
On whether there should be more elite coaches in the school and whether it would be wise to coax former coaches like Misbun Sidek into the school programme fold, Kim Hock said: “Misbun is good with the youngsters and a disciplined coach but whether he wants the job is another thing.
“An experienced coach in BJSS would be good but, more importantly, he or she must have the passion to nurture the youngsters and must motivate them to give their badminton career a shot,” he said.
“So far, the coaches have been working hard in BJSS and we have enough players to work on. Of course, there’s always room for improvement,” added Kim Hock, who nailed a silver medal with Cheah Soon Kit in the men’s doubles at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.