And, based on the way Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) president Tengku Tan Sri Mahaleel Tengku Ariff handled himself at the first meeting with the media over the development of the game, you know he means business.
The grey-haired Tengku Mahaleel did more listening than talking and, over a short discussion, one could sense his sincerity, determination and desire to take Malaysian badminton to greater heights.
He literally took notes as the media spoke about leadership, coaching, development, discipline, selection of players, badminton stakeholders (including parents and sponsors), goals, competitions and matches, ranking and incentives.
Besides the media fraternity, Tengku Mahaleel has also met various other stakeholders – the management, coaches, players including Lee Chong Wei and Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong, sponsors, former players, Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, BAM’s patron, as well as current and past officials from the National Sports Council (NSC).
The big question now is – can Tengku Mahaleel and his team execute all the ideas and plans gathered from this series of meetings in an effective manner?
There have been grand plans and talks in the past but the execution had been flawed.
Tengku Mahaleel, the former Proton Holdings chief executive officer (CEO), said that the media gathering was the final part of his fact-finding mission before he unveils his plans at the council meeting on Saturday.
On July 27, after his election, he had asked for one month to do some groundwork. During this fact-finding mission, he was assisted by former international Tan Aik Mong, who had been breathing down the neck of national coaches and players in a series of meetings.
“All the ideas and points raised by the media bring a lot of value to us (BAM) and we will take them into consideration,” said Tengku Mahaleel, calling the media “the ears and eyes of BAM”.
“Honestly, the level of badminton in our country has not gone very low but I have to admit that it has dropped in the outskirts. Other countries have used different methods to improve and they have crossed the line while we have been left behind.
“I, for one, do not wish to be confrontational with anyone ... my aim is to work together with everyone.
“Please bear with me as I put together all that I have found out (over meetings and discussions) in the next few days with what I have in mind. I do not plan to make any statements on future plans – not until the council meeting on Sept 7. As the president, I do not have absolute power. I am not Hitler. I need to put forward all the plans through the council first.”
The 66-year-old Mahaleel may come out with grand plans for BAM but he knows that he cannot pull it off by himself. His vision and mission for Malaysian badminton must catch fire at every level of administration, coaching and training – right from the grassroots to the elite level.
And those, who can’t take the heat, should leave.
By RAJES PAUL The Star