BAM welcome professionals

KUALA LUMPUR: After years of being at loggerheads, the BA of Malaysia (BAM) are finally ready to open their doors to more professional players in the country.

BAM president Tan Sri Norza Zakaria has tasked his secretary-general Datuk Kenny Goh with drawing up a detailed plan to see how the national team could work closely with independent players.

Prior to the announcement, independent players would only join the national camp for centralised training when they were called up for assignments such as the Thomas and Uber Cup Finals.

However, a more active partnership between both parties could go a long way, as proven at the recent Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, when the Malaysian squad comprising both national and professionals recaptured the mixed team gold after defeating 2018 champions India in the final.

Among the top independent players who can benefit from this possible collaboration include world No 5 Lee Zii Jia, two-time world junior champion Goh Jin Wei, Ong Yew Sin-Teo Ee Yi (men's doubles), Tan Kian Meng-Lai Pei Jing and Goh Soon Huat-Shevon Lai (mixed doubles).

"We are looking into that (working closely with professional players), and I am engaging with Jin Wei to see what her plan is moving forward.

"As for the others, Kenny is formulating a way where independent players can utilise facilities at Academy Badminton Malaysia after achieving a certain world ranking.

"This is not cast in stone yet, but maybe if you're a top 20 player in the world, then we will allow these facilities to be utilised.

"The move will also be beneficial to us (BAM) because we will have formidable sparring partners, but he (Kenny) will work on the details with the technical team," said Norza after chairing the second council meeting of the year at the ABM.

At the moment, independent players train on their own with their respective coaches and sometimes hold joint sessions.

In the past, these independent players have also pleaded for extra support from the SportsMinistry, National Sports Council and National Sports Institute.

Yesterday, the national body presented incentives worth RM245,000 to players and coaches, who contributed and did well at the Hanoi Sea Games in May and the Commonwealth Games.

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