Tuesday, July 16, 2013

BAM finally hits paydirt

ON THE RISE: But much will depend on how the parent body nurtures latest discovery Teck Zhi

THE BA of Malaysia (BAM) has finally unearthed a boys' singles champion at the continental level but it must now tread with caution when transforming Soo Teck Zhi from Asian junior champion into a world class player.

Zulfadli Zulkilfli was the first Malaysian to be crowned world junior champion in both the World and Asian Junior Championships in 2011 but critics were quick to point out that BAM did not have anything to do in his success as the shuttler was never a product of the association.

Zulfadli was coached by his father Zulkifli Sidek and sponsored by KLRC Berhad and the shuttler has continued his career as an independent player but without much success.

Teck Zhi, 18, has proved that the national junior programme can churn out quality talent when he won the Asian Junior Championship title in Kota Kinabalu on Sunday and BAM head coach Zhao Kejian has sped up the progress of other juniors like Soon Joo Ven, Cheam June Wei and R. Sathesihtharan.

The lanky Teck Zhi and Joo Ven will play in the World Junior Championships in Bangkok in October before joining the national senior squad and the coaches must be prepared with plans to nurture their progress on the international stage.

National back-up coach Hendrawan, who takes longer to develop the skills of the newcomers, should not delay in pushing Teck Zhi and Joo Ven to the next level. It has to be done within the next two years so that the senior squad will have quality players ready to perform at the top level when World No 1 Lee Chong Wei retires.

June Wei and Satheishtharan, both 16, will be honing their skills under Kejian for another two years but BAM should create a system where these players are allowed to train with the seniors on a regular basis so that their transition into the back-up squad will be smooth.

BAM must not waste the good work being done by Kejian as quality shuttlers are a rarity, so Hendrawan and elite coaches Rashid Sidek and Tey Seu Bock cannot afford to let the talents of this new breed of players go to waste.

The girls' singles players have also been progressing well under new singles coach Rony Ausgustinus and the promising display of S. Kisona and Lee Ying Ying is proof of that.

Both are 15 but managed to reach the last 16 in the girls' singles of the Asian Juniors and with better guidance, they could add depth the weakened national women's team.

But the biggest concern at the moment is the lack of talent coming through in the boys' doubles. Malaysia did not have a single pair in the semi-final stage of the Asian Juniors.

D. Darren Isaac-Ong Yew Sin are presently the highest ranked pair among the juniors but could not progress beyond the third round. Their coach Pang Cheh Chang must put in more efforts to create more quality combinations.

Cheh Chang has the experience of coaching senior pairs as he was once in charge of former World No 1 Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong, so there should be no excuses in his effort to resurrect Malaysia's reputation in the boys' doubles.

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