KUALA LUMPUR: Former Danish great Morten Frost Hansen has been hired to revive Malaysian badminton’s fortunes.
Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin announced the appointment of Frost on Tuesday.
The former All-England men’s singles champion will start work as the national technical director for Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) next March.
The 56-year-old Frost will coordinate the programmes from the development to the elite level and empower the coaches at the national centre.
This is a second big stint for Frost with the national team. He was with BAM for 3½ years from 1997-2000 as national coaching director.
His past dealings and insights into Malaysia’s system and his vast experience as a player and coach will surely be an asset to the country.
His appointment is also timely as Malaysian badminton is grappling with news that one of its athletes, said to be world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei, has failed a dope test in a major tournament.
BAM are also facing a serious shortage of talents in the singles department while Chong Wei has had two heartbreaks – letting slip his best chance of winning the world title in Copenhagen in August and the men’s singles title at the Asian Games in Incheon last month.
BAM deputy president Datuk Norza Zakaria welcomed Khairy’s announcement.
“We are grateful that the National Sports Council (NSC) have hired Morten and he will be seconded to BAM,” said Norza.
“Our minister, BAM president (Tengku Tan Sri Mahaleel Tengku Arif) and I had met in August to discuss the hiring of a technical director. I’m grateful that our minister has fulfilled our wish by assisting us in engaging Morten.
Asked about the cost involved in hiring Frost, Norza said: “His appointment comes under NSC’s payroll.”
The last time BAM tried to hire Frost, it was learnt that his asking price was RM100,000 a month.
The lanky Dane was approached again after the World Championships in Copenhagen in August and, this time, the big budget given to the Youth and Sports Ministry did the trick.
Norza hopes that Frost’s presence would be in tune with their aim of becoming the top three badminton nations by 2020.
Frost will also be targeted to produce Olympic Games and world champions and increase the pool of talent in the country.
“With Morten around, we can start looking at our long-term programmes and also to some positive changes in badminton,” said Norza.
Morten’s return is indeed good news but his presence will be futile if BAM do not give him the full power and mandate to run the show or if the top brass continue to interfere and meddle in technical matters.
by Rajes Paul - The Star