Friday, January 09, 2015

Coaches forced to sever ties with BAM because of unfair treatment

THE resignations of four Bukit Jalil Sports School (BJSS) coaches, including chief coach Zhou Kejian, in just one week is no big surprise, really.

Things have not been rosy for the coaches – both at BJSS and the national centre – for some time after Tengku Tan Sri Mahaleel Tengku Ariff (pic) became the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) president in 2013.

Even world No. 2 Lee Chong Wei had pleaded to BAM to look into the coaches’ affair when he saw how demoralised most of them were during training sessions.
There have been many changes among the coaches.

Some were moved around. Some were hauled up. Some were issued memos for speaking up. And some were even taught how to serve the shuttle the “correct way”!

All these may seem like ordinary administrative decisions (except for teaching a coach how to coach) – considering that the national coaches are accountable and answerable to the BAM council for their players’ success and failure.

The issue here is not about coaches going against the decisions or against the decision-makers (the council members). They have no problem with that.
Their gripe is over how things are executed.

Some feel that they are not given due respect or even appreciated despite their years of services.
The spark which triggered the unrest among the coaches came when Tengku Mahaleel hired two coaches from China – He Guo Quan and Zhou Yang – in October.

Though still new to the set-up, these coaches were given the responsibility to monitor the BAM coaches. Sadly, their presence in the set-up were not communicated to the other coaches properly.
What’s even more puzzling is that Zhou Yang had coached Pahang but was sent back to China after failing to produce talented shuttlers.

So, just imagine how the national coaches must have felt when he was given a higher salary and tasked with overseeing them.

The coaches’ contract was another contentious issue.

Most of the coaches’ contract ended on Dec 31. On that very day – at 7pm – they received an email telling them that their contracts had been extended for another three months.
Talk about personal touch!

The three-month grace period was to facilitate the arrival of BAM technical director Morten Frost Hansen of Denmark. That is understandable.
But the drama does not end there.

On Monday, the roles of the coaches were changed yet again, with Guo Quan being named as the singles head coach instead of Rashid Sidek and Jeremy Gan was made as the men’s doubles head – just days after Tengku Mahaleel had issued a statement that Frost would be given full reign to choose his own team.

Why couldn’t BAM just let things be until Frost arrives.

Why complicate matters?

Long-serving sports official Wong Ah Jit, who is currently the team manager of Petaling BC in the Kopiko Purple League, hit the nail in the head when he said: “This is the Olympic Games qualification year. The coaches involved must have a peace of mind to focus on getting their players ready. It is important for the national body to give the necessary assurances to the coaches about their future.”

So, how can we make it a win-win situation for all?

No one is telling BAM to mollycoddle their coaches.

Sack them if they are not good enough – but do it in a professional and transparent way.
One must show respect to earn respect. Appreciate the coaches if they do well.

After all, no one deserves to be treated like a second-class citizen on their own home turf.
The BAM council will meet in Kuching next week. Let’s all pray that the members won’t just sit quietly like a mouse when Tengku Mahaleel chairs the meeting.

 Rajes Paul - The Star

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