PETALING: Malaysia have the potential to be one of the badminton powerhouses again in two years.
This is the renewed confidence that the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) president Tan Sri Norza Zakaria has in his team after putting in place every key personnel and structure at their state-of-the-art Academy Badminton Malaysia in Bukit Kiara.
It all now depends whether the players and coaches can deliver when the season eventually recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Norza believes he has plugged most of the loopholes.
“I strongly believe that Malaysia can be the powerhouse again in two years. We’ve done our best to put things in order and strengthened the areas that we believed that we were weak in, ” said Norza, who has made many changes over the last two years.
Former internationals like Wong Choong Hann was put in charge of the elite team (53) while Datuk Misbun Sidek was named as the head for the junior programme (75).
Choong Hann and Misbun have the full mandate but are monitored by Datuk Kenny Goh and Datuk Ng Chin Chai, the heads of the coaching and training committee and the development committee respectively.
They have their own mini Sports Science centre with six experts to cater for both the juniors and seniors while their Podium Programme athletes get direct attention from the National Sports Institute.
There is a fully-equipped gymnasium, 26 administration staff, an auditorium and a comfortable hostel.
One of the key changes, Norza said, was moving the juniors from Bukit Jalil to ABM and the appointment of American Robert Gambardella as the centre’s chief operating officer.
“The biggest obstacle was getting the juniors to be under one roof but despite all the challenges, we made it happen. The juniors train full-time and get the best education too, ” said Norza.
All their juniors sit for their International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) under the Cambridge Assessment International Education. They have tutors from the Regent International School in Puchong, who help them with their studies according to the players schedule.
“Robert has not joined us yet but he will soon. His experience as a former sports administrator will add more value, ” he said.
“We are giving the best care for our players and are working hard to get more sponsors too as it cost millions to run this whole set-up.
“But I’m confident that with all these investments, our players will excel. They’ve immense potential. All they have to do is continue to work hard in training and produce the desired results, ” added Norza.