KUALA LUMPUR: Independent men’s singles shuttler Mohd Arif Abdul Latif signed a sponsorship deal with badminton equipment company Fleet yesterday and is ready to show the world that he can be fleet of foot as well.
The world No. 32 and country’s fourth ranked shuttler, who left the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) last month in a bid to rejuvenate his flagging career, said the sponsorship deal has motivated him to qualify for his first World Championships after missing this year’s by the skin of his teeth.
The 23-year-old Arif is ranked behind Lee Chong Wei, Chong Wei Feng and Liew Daren.
He’s also the first reserve for the world meet in Guangzhou from Aug 5-11. But luck is not on his side as no player has withdrawn.
“This is a fresh start for me. There was intense pressure on me in the national team (under BAM) and I could not perform. Now, I’m highly motivated to achieve several firsts in my career,” Arif said after inking the sponsorship deal with Fleet yesterday.
“I’m grateful to the Fleet boss (managing director Teo Tong Wah) for the six-digit deal. I’ll be competing in many tournaments, starting with the Taiwan Open in September.
“Previously, I was inconsistent and my physical condition was not up to the mark. I know that being an independent shuttler is hard but I’m willing to change in order to attain excellence.”
Arif, the 2007 Asian Junior runner-up, trains under Razif Sidek and spars with a host of former internationals – his siblings Razif and Zakry; one-time All-England men’s singles champion Mohd Hafiz Hashim; and doubles shuttlers Mohd Fairuzizuan Mohd Tazari, Lee Wan Wah, Chan Chong Ming and Chew Choon Eng.
Yesterday, Arif’s elder brother Razif also signed a one-year contract with Fleet International Holdings. Razif was also a member of the national set-up before leaving in 2011.
Besides the recent recruits, the other ambassadors under the wings of Fleet are former international doubles shuttlers Wan Wah, Chong Ming and Choon Eng.
For the record, Arif was the third men’s singles shuttler to leave the national team this year after reigning national champion Misbun Ramdan Misbun (in January) and Chan Kwong Beng (in February).