KUALA LUMPUR: World No. 1 Lee Chong Wei has recommended his former coach Datuk Misbun Sidek to be the head coach for the national training centre.
The 31-year-old Chong Wei gave this opinion when he attended the Corporate Skills and Research (CSR) meeting chaired by acting chairman Tan Sri Tengku Mahaleel Tengku Ariff last week – before he left for China to play in an exhibition match with five-time world champion Lin Dan of China.
Chong Wei, when contacted after the exhibition match, said that the national team needed a supremo to manage the players and coaches – similar to how other countries are running their programmes.
In China, there is chief coach Li Yongbo. In Indonesia, there is a performance director in Rexy Mainaky. In Japan, there is head coach Park Joo-bong. And in India, there is chief coach P. Gopichand. All are former badminton greats.
The Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM), however, do not have anyone with such credentials running the show.
Penang BA president Dr Koay Ban Ching has been put in charge of the players’ training and tournament plans but it is unclear how knowledgeable he is on these matters or whether he has coached or played the sport before.
Fortunately, he is being helped by former doubles chief coach Tan Kim Her, who is able to give an insight into what is required by the players as far as their planning and programmes are concerned.
Two-time Olympic Games silver medallist Chong Wei, who is the most senior player in the team, hopes that his former coach, Misbun, will take up the challenge if approached by BAM.
“In the meeting, I spoke about the need for a head coach and proposed my former coach Datuk Misbun,” said Chong Wei yesterday.
“I believe that he is suitable as a head coach and I told everyone so at the meeting. I am not sure whether Misbun will want to come back but I believe he can revive Malaysian badminton.”
Malaysia have been without a head coach or a coaching director since the national body relinquished Yap Kim Hock of the position in 2008 after the Beijing Olympic Games.
This is not the first time that BAM have been urged to appoint a head honcho to tighten their training and coaching structure. In fact, besides Misbun, other names have also been suggested for several years now but the national body have shown no urgency in hiring anyone.
Misbun was Chong Wei’s coach until January, 2011. Misbun decided to walk out of the national team as he was unhappy with several decisions made by the coaching and training committee (CNT) then.
In January, 2013, his son Misbun Ramdan also left the national training centre. Ramdan is currently trained by Misbun at his home and he did well last year by winning four international tournaments.
Meanwhile, Chong Wei said that he thoroughly enjoyed the exhibition match in Lingshui yesterday, which was held in conjunction with the opening of another new national training centre.
Chong Wei played in the doubles with Lin Dan and the duo lost 18-21 to four-time world champions Cai Yun-Fu Haifeng of China.
“It was good fun. About 3,000 people turned up to watch Lin Dan and I play in the doubles. I guess, they were intrigued to find out how we would fare,” said Chong Wei.
“Lin Dan and I tried out best to outplay our rivals but, after playing in the singles all our lives, it was quite difficult and we lost. We joked throughout the match.
“It was a wonderful way of promoting the game and I would be more than delighted to be part of exhibition like this. In fact, I would not mind if it is done in Malaysia, where we have a huge fan base too.
Asked about the facilities at the centre, Chong Wei said: “It was beyond world class. I was awestruck. The facilities at the centre is just too good. It cannot be compared to our national training centre.”
Malaysia still do not have a state-of-art training centre that they can call their own.
“All China’s shuttlers gearing up for the All-England are using the centre as their training base now. They will spend one month there before going straight to the All-England,” he said.
Chong Wei, too, will shift his attention to get ready for the All-England in Birmingham from March 4-9. Top seed Chong Wei is eyeing to win it for the third time but China’s second seed and defending champion Chen Long is standing in his way for a triple glory.