SEVERAL badminton legends, including three from the 1992 Thomas Cup-winning squad, have come together in the hope of establishing future Malaysian champions.
Juara Tangkis Tun Dr Siti Hasmah, an initiative by Sports Affairs Badminton Club, aims to provide a platform for more shuttlers to have a shot at becoming future stars.
Led by head coach and programme director Rashid Sidek, the grand finals of the Under-18 mixed tournament is set to take place in December.
Speaking to the press yesterday, Rashid said: “We came up with this idea because we realised there are many former internationals out there who are national legends.
“We have all retired but why not come up with a programme to make them icons of the sport?
“These ex-players can also offer tips and share their knowledge to produce more players for the future.”
Apart from Rashid, the others involved in the programme are Foo Kok Keong, Cheah Soon Kit, Rahman Sidek, Ong Ewe Hock, Roslin Hashim, Zakry Latif, Koo Kien Keat and Woon Khe Wei.
According to Rashid, roadshows to select players will be held in Kedah, Pahang, Johor, Sarawak, Sabah and Kuala Lumpur from this month until the end of November.
The former internationals will form eight teams consisting of 12 players each.
The players selected cannot be part of the national setup or the Bukit Jalil Sports School (BJSS).
“We will select the best players from the state and have these legends lead them.
“This programme is also open to all other states and not just the ones mentioned. We will conduct the selections.
“We will also decide on the possibility of absorbing talented players into the Sports Affairs Academy,” added Rashid.
Meanwhile, BA of Malaysia (BAM) president Datuk Seri Norza Zakaria applauded the initiative.
“As BAM moves towards getting all of our BJSS players under one roof at the Academy Badminton Malaysia (ABM), we welcome and will support a programme like this which aims to increase our talent pool,” said Norza.
Also present was Sports Affairs president Raezal Hussein.