KUCHING: The decision by Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) to introduce the National Junior League and hosting one of the legs in Kuching with the Sarawak Badminton Association (SBA) is most timely and appropriate.
Assistant Minister of Youth and Sports Snowdan Lawan said the state government is very happy to see Kuching chosen as a venue and thanked BAM and AirAsia for giving the opportunity to the state’s young talents to participate in the event.
“We have a lot of untapped talents in Sarawak especially in the rural areas and we want to see the development of badminton at the grass-roots level.
“With the organising of this league, we want to produce back up players in badminton in the effort to produce world class athletes such as Datuk Wira Lee Chong Wei.
“Apart from that, we do not want to depend too much on one player and that is why we need to take the initiative to unearth new talents,” he told reporters in a press conference on the state-level launching of the AirAsia-BAM National League at a local hotel on Wednesday.
“We are serious in realising the state’s aim to become the sports powerhouse in Malaysia and our ministry through the Sarawak Sports Corporation (SSC) and Sarawak State Sports Council (MSNS) will continue to lend the necessary support and assistance for both BAM and SBA on the development of badminton,” he added.
Seventeen teams including five girls teams are taking part in the AirAsia-BAM National League Sarawak Leg that started yesterday at the SBA Badminton Hall along Jalan Lapangan Terbang and ends on Sunday (Oct 29).
The competition is divided in boys/girls singles and doubles categories and the winners will earn the right to play in the national grand finals early next year.
Sarawak is the third state to host the National Junior League after Terengganu and Sabah.
BAM president Datuk Seri Mohamad Norza Zakaria said the league is targeting the participation of more than 5,000 students who are under the age of 18 from over 1,000 schools in the country.
BAM has made the league very exciting by adopting a Thomas/Uber Cup model with attractive cash prizes.
“The champion boys and girls teams of the national grand finals will get automatic entries into our Akademi Badminton Malaysia in Bukit Kiara.
“This will definitely be a boost and a stepping stone for many who aspire to make badminton a large part of their career, will also be a huge milestone for all badminton fans in the country,” added Norza.
He also hoped that with the league, non-traditional states will also rise to the occasion and build up the momentum of sports in the country.
Also present at the press conference were SBA president Tan Sri Datuk Amar Abdul Aziz Husain and SSC CEO Dr Ong Kong Swee.