Regional hubs for badminton

Regional hubs for badminton

New regional training centres will be set up next year, as the Singapore Badminton Association (SBA) seeks to raise the quality of play and increase the sport’s popularity and accessibility.

SBA president Lawrence Leow, who was re-elected unopposed for a second term at its virtual annual general meeting yesterday week, is also looking at high performance and establishing a wider base of national players and coaches.

The four to five centres, likely to be situated at the north, south, east, west and central zones, will provide coaching for foundational and elite levels. It will first cater to those aged 13 to 17 before expanding to the under-13 age group.

The association hopes to launch these centres next April, said Leow, adding that the SBA secretariat is in advanced discussions with national agency Sport Singapore to confirm the venues and whether selected coaches or academies will run the respective facilities.

Leow, 62, also revealed his goal of creating a Singaporean core within the national coaching set-up by 2025. He said: “Local coaches have a better understanding of the local culture, context and mentality.

“Today, Singaporean coaches are not really helming the national team and that is something we can work on changing – not to the extent of replacing the foreign coaches who will remain an instrumental part of our set-up – but to have at least an adequate local presence.”

Indonesians Mulyo Handoyo and Nunung Wibiyanto are the current national head coaches for singles and doubles. They are assisted by Singaporeans Kelvin Ho and Noor Izwan, Malaysians Lim Pek Siah and Yap Kim Hock and Indonesian Pribadi Setia Atmaja.

Besides sending the coaches overseas for experience and exposure, the SBA is also developing a national grading system, which will serve as a platform for evaluation and feedback to players on their proficiency level.

This will compliment the national ranking system introduced last year, covering 1,183 players.

Leow said: “The aim is to create a larger national talent pool with strong fundamentals. The SBA is currently working with a selected academy to flesh out the detailed criteria for each grading level.”

At last year’s SEA Games in the Philippines, Singapore won one silver (Loh Kean Yew in the men’s singles) and two bronze medals (men and women’s teams).

The expanded SBA’s management committee – from 11 elected and three co-opted members to 17 and a maximum of seven, respectively – will focus on the strategic areas of assets and facilities, pathway and development, membership and partners, tournament and technical officials, and business and awards.

The key positions in the MC will be decided later this month, with one vice-president assigned to oversee each area.

Leow, whose long-term ambition is for Singapore to capture an Olympic medal by 2028, urged the fraternity to unite and be bold in contributing ideas.

He said: “We must adopt the attitude that there is no idea that is too wild and no dream that cannot come true. The key is to set out a comprehensive road map with realistic targets that will guide us towards realising our goals.”