Thursday, 6 June 2013

Fallen feathers : Who’s the next in line for Malaysian badminton?

Here is an account from former world number 1, Han Jian on the state of affairs in BAM...

Malaysian badminton- A horrifying gap between elites and younger players

At the current moment, there isn’t any sign of the emergence of good talents among the younger batch of players. The best solution for this situation is to prolong the career of elite players, so that Malaysian badminton will get into the crisis of having capable players to take over the baton from the elite players.

Once a national coach of BAM, Han Jian, pointed out that the lack of Malaysian talents rising up to the senior ranks, especially in the MS department, is worrying. The only one and feasible solution is to prolong Lee Chong Wei’s career.

Established players go a long way

Han Jian : “Single is different from the other event, because the players are on their own in the tournament. As such, it’s very demanding to be a good single player, this includes good footwork, movement speed, endurance and specialized training regimes. As a result, if a player does not have a solid foundation in skill and techniques, this will greatly impede their progress later on.”

“A lot of time is needed to polish all the fine details of the techniques and skills mentioned above. Normally it will take at least 5 to 7 years for a talented player to learn all these skills. This explains why it is rare to find good single player these days.”

Taking short-cuts when training

Han Jian emphasized that although it is very hard to develop single players, but these single players will go a long way in their career once they are established. At the moment, Peter Gade and Wong Choong Hann are very good example which can testify this fact. Although they are already branded as “old men” on court but they are still capable of winning matches in international tournaments.

Han Jian was once a player who is famous for his ability to play long rallies. He expressed his opinions to the reporters of China Press in a recent interview.

Han Jian feels that the current training methods emphasize too much on getting short terms results. Most of the time, these players do not have a good grasp on the basic skills and they struggle to produce results. This is also why a lot of younger players still cannot challenge Lee Chong Wei and Lin Dan up until now.

“I have seen Wong Choong Hann and Peter Gade’s matches a lot of time. Though their younger opponents are very aggressive, but those young lads could not match them in a lot of department, especially in racket techniques. As a result, these young players find it hard to beat the veterans; single game is not just about stamina and power play.”
From the just concluded World Championship, it is apparent that Malaysians badminton is facing a crisis in which no capable young players could take over the baton from senior squads. Han Jian gave his personal thoughts on what could possibly be the root causes of this crisis.
The Characteristics of Single Player: Compete and develop at the same time.

Han Jian said: “Judging on current trend, I could not see a reason why Lee Chong Wei cannot continue for another few years. Based on Lee Chong Wei’s playing style and techniques, I don’t think that there will be players emerging from the younger batch who are capable of threatening him in 3 to 5 years time.”
“This is the characteristic of single players: your career goes a long way once you are established. This is especially so when you have a Lee Chong Wei whose basic skills and techniques are solid nowadays. He can play for another couple of years and decide whether to call it a day by that time. ”

Han Jian also pointed out that the current training regimes emphasize too much on seeing short term results. Whether BAM’s management is willing to chip in more time and money to develop new talents is a whole new issue all together. Ultimately, they have the same thinking as the fans, which is to use the selected few outstanding players to fight for the honour of the country, and doing what they can to maintain the current status quo.”

Han Jian said is not easy to find a good player because you cannot judge a player’s talent based on intuition alone. It takes a lot of selection process and development programme to discover a good player. Not many people are keen on investing that much for talents discovery.

Get rid of favouritism –BAM to accommodate others

Han Jian feels that a workable system needs to be in place in order to effectively develop the talents in the long run. Unless BAM could come out with a plan with long term vision, we could pretty much predict the future of Malaysian badminton if things remain as status quo.

“The so called revamp of the current system includes: BAM should put more attention in juniors and grass root levels and npt just on the elite levels alone. They need to come out will a sustainable plan to develop all the younger talents step by step.”

Han Jian think that BAM should treat every Malaysian player equally and not playing the petty politics of favouritism. Han Jian feels that independent players should be allowed to represent the nation. At the moment, more and more industry and sponsors are willing to sponsor players. If those independent players have the capability, why don’t BAM give them a chance to play for Malaysia?

A more transparent selection process

He pointed out that, selection should be based entirely on merit. Just take an example on the just concluded World Championship, why the players who have the higher rankings are drop from the list? Isn’t this being bias towards players in your own stable? This is simply no credibility in this sort of selection.
Han Jian said that only player with the skills can win a tournament. If a higher ranked player is not selected, it will greatly affect the players’ morale and thoughts. How does it help the development of local badminton scene if BAM select a player without any outstanding result to play for the country?

“Not to mention that those independent players have their own private sponsors, who play an important role in developing badminton in the future. No doubt BAM’s monopolization will only make them think twice about investing more in developing the Malaysian badminton in the future. BAM should get rid of favouritism if they want more players to represent the country in the future. ”

Conclusions from Han Jian’s interview:
1.                               Prolong Lee Chong Wei’s career
2.                               Abolish favouritism, select players on merit
3.                               Revamp the training programme
4.                               Distribute the funding evenly and not placing all on the elite team.

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