BAM makes landmark decision on junior development programme

KUALA LUMPUR: In a landmark move, the BA of Malaysia (BAM) announced on Tuesday that the national junior programme of the Academy Badminton Malaysia (ABM) will only accept players over the age of 15 from 2024.

BAM president Tan Sri Norza Zakaria said the move, mooted by the BAM task force, will allow state associations, coaches and parents at an grassroots the opportunity to work longer with young players before they are absorbed into the national setup.

Before this, even before the start of ABM and the Bukit Jalil Sports School, players as young as 13 would be selected to join the national junior programme.

Norza lauded the forward-thinking decision made by the task force for the junior development programme.

The decision to only house players age 16 and above was reached following input from BAM coaching director Rexy Mainaky, ABM head of juniors Jeffer Rosin, as well as research papers on the holistic development of junior athletes.

The decision will only impact the 2024 intake onwards, meaning that the current players aged 14 and 15 will remain at ABM.

In order to support younger players who have shown outstanding potential but are under 16, the task force agreed that on a case-by-case basis, ABM would provide additional support to these players while allowing them to remain at home with their families and train at their respective state BAs.

The support for these young players would be in the form of monthly allowances and financial support for tournaments.

Additionally, the player's training programme will be provided and monitored by Jeffer and Rexy. The young players will also be invited to join the training at ABM during the school holidays.

"Yesterday's decisions by the task force are in line with BAM's aim to decentralise the development of badminton and to get more stakeholders involved," Norza said in a statement.

"It gives our state associations, coaches and parents at the grassroots the opportunity to work longer with young players, up to the age of 15, before those selected are absorbed into ABM.

"This will ultimately widen the number of players undergoing systematic training and will augur well for the future," added Norza.

BAM deputy president Datuk V. Subramaniam said: "We believe that allowing players below 16 to stay with their families is crucial in developing their maturity, mental and emotional well-being.

"In return, they will be able to focus better on their training.

"Historical data have also shown that players who joined the national team at 16 are not at a disadvantage compared to those joining at a younger age," said Subramaniam.

"Guidelines to streamline the identification and selection of these younger players will be issued," added Subramaniam.

During Monday's task force meeting, it was agreed that a Talent Identification session (TID) will be held from Dec 15-21 for ABM's player intake.

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