KUALA LUMPUR: World No 2 Lee Zii Jia and other top independent players can begin their joint training at Akademi Badminton Malaysia (ABM) in Bukit Kiara next week.
This is seen as a huge boost for those bound for the season-ending World Tour Finals in Bangkok on Dec 7-11.
The BA of Malaysia (BAM) issued a statement today, confirming that top independent players can join the national camp's sparring sessions on Wednesdays and Fridays.
The shuttle is now in the independent players' court, as it is up to them to take up or leave the offer, it said.
"Independent players now have the option to attend weekly matchplay sessions at the Petronas ABM after BAM announced plans to open their doors to the professional shuttlers.
"As sparring sessions are a critical and necessary component in players' training, BAM feel these joint sessions will provide mutual benefits to the proactive engines of the national team — the senior squad and independent shuttlers.
"These sessions will also help enhance the camaraderie between players and officials particularly when they represent the country in team competitions.
"BAM have proposed that these sessions take place on Wednesday mornings for singles and doubles. There will be a second session for doubles players on Fridays," read the statement.
The players eligible to join the hybrid training sessions are those ranked top 50 in the world for singles and top 30 for doubles. The top five Malaysian players may also be considered. These players will be allowed to bring along their respective coaches.
Those keen to attend the sparring sessions must contact the respective BAM coaching directors Wong Choong Hann (singles) and Rexy Mainaky (doubles) by Monday of the week if they intend to train at ABM.
Independent mixed doubles and world No 11 Goh Soon Huat-Shevon Lai are expected to be among the first few to grab the offer.
"Yes, we will most likely go once a week to join on matchplay days. This was part of what was discussed between (BAM high performance director) Dr Tim Jones and our coach Chin Eei Hui.
"So far, this is the arrangement, and we intend to bring some of our junior players as well," said Shevon, who added that professional doubles players will continue to train together as a team with Rosman Razak, who will replace Eei Hui.
Eei Hui, it is learned, will head to New Zealand after taking up a coaching role.