TALENTED: Senheng and Samsung offer scholarships to 12 young badminton players
TWELVE budding badminton players have been chosen to live their lives as future professional badminton players for the country.
Their three-year training scholarship programme, which began five months ago, is sponsored by Senheng Electric (KL) and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, under the Senheng-Samsung (SS) Junior Badminton Scholarship.
Senheng managing director Lim Kim Heng said it was not easy to undergo intensive training while studying, especially when children of their age enjoy a leisure life.
"They have to become mentally strong and sacrifice a lot of things for their future," he said during a press conference at Sports Arena Sentosa.
Samsung managing director Kwon Jae Hoon, who was also present, quoted a writer as saying that successful people find opportunity in adversity.
The 12 players from all over the country were short-listed from 140 finalists from the SS Junior badminton championship in 2010 and 2011 and had undergone a two-and-a-half month rigorous selection process via competitions.
"This scholarship is also a joint corporate social responsibility programme to develop badminton stars for the country," Lim said.
Senheng and Samsung will spend RM1.1 million on the 12 scholars which includes accommodation, education, training sessions, daily meals and tournament sponsorship. Their other needs will be sponsored by Looi Badminton Academy.
The players, aged from 13 to 19, are enrolled in SMJK Katholik and SMK (L) Bukit Bintang.
Chong Kein Hiung, 19, from Sabah said he would have to train harder than others as he did not attend school.
"Initially, I felt it was hard to adapt to life here. But in order to become a professional player like Taufik Hidayat, I am ready to go that extra mile," Chong said.
Faiz Rozain, another scholar, said he speaks to his peers either in Bahasa Malaysia or English.
"They are nice to me and also teach me Mandarin," said the 14-year-old from Kedah.
Chua Ching Weng, 14, from Sri Petaling, feels that this was an opportunity of a lifetime to prove himself as a sportsman.
"Initially, my father, who is a businessman, objected to my pursuit to be a professional badminton player.
"My mother is the one who persuaded him to allow me to join this programme," he said, adding that he had been interested in badminton since young.
Looi Badminton Academy managing director Jack Koh said the children were allowed to meet their parents once a month.
"The career path of these children includes becoming professional players and coaches.
"We will also finance part of their tertiary education with partner groups if they wish to further their studies after the programme," he said.
Also present at the event was chief coach, the former national doubles ace, Cheah Soon Kit.