The Star Online > North

Monday July 23, 2007

Badminton hall a boon

By DASHEER NOH

Badminton enthusiasts in Alor Star were fortunate when the 11th Malaysia Games (Sukma) wa held in Kedah in 2006.

Their decades of yearning for a proper badminton hall were finally over when a ten-court hall was built at a cost of RM3 million for Sukma.

It was situated on the fringes of the city (about 6km away from the city centre) and at first, doubts were raised on whether it would serve the needs of the populace or end up as a white elephant.

Luckily, the distance was no barrier to the hundreds of enthu-siasts who took up the challenge to make maximum use of the hall once it was thrown open to the public after the Games.

Never a day passes without the hall being fully utilised for competitions, by the Kedah bad-minton squad for training, or the public playing matches for fun.

The players start filling the hall as early as 9am every day and the hall only empties out at closing time at 11pm.

Kedah BA secretary Goh Yen Yen, who is also manager of the complex, is charged with the overall management of the hall.

“The courts are fully booked every day and there are times we cannot entertain any bookings at all and turn people away.

“First preference is given to the Kedah squad as badminton is one of the core sports under the National Sports Council.

“They use the courts between 8am and 10am and also from 3pm to 5pm,” said Yen Yen.

Under the Sports Ministry’s core sports scheme, there is a badminton development officer appointed by the National Sports Council.

The Kedah BA also received 100 dozen shuttlecocks every month and fully paid coaches are available to conduct training ses- sions for the Kedah badminton squad.

But unfortunately, payment for coaches has been irregular with a couple of them having to wait for months to get paid.

There are three coaches and a physiotherapist attached to the 53 boys and girls in the state squad.

“The courts are thrown open to the public only from 6pm to 11pm with the peak hours being from 9pm onwards.

“The unsuitable location of the hall has not prevented the leisure players making a bee-line to the hall to sweat it out,” said Goh.

The rate charged is RM6 per court per hour before 6pm and it is RM10 per court per hour between 6pm and 11pm.

The complex is managed by a general manager, a night super-visor, two general workers and a clerk.

Said Goh: “I am glad to say that the complex has been patronised to the maximum and the asso- ciation is indeed grateful to the National Sports Council for having granted us the request for a new hall.

“We have a shop selling bad-minton equipment and also pro-viding facilities for restringing racquets. In addition, we have a kiosk at one corner of the build- ing providing soft drinks and snacks.

“There is no question of the hall turning into a white elephant as some people had predicted.

“On the contrary, it is a boost to badminton as the complex is a hive of activity.”