HIS nomination has surprised even the BA of Malaysia but Datuk Seri Andrew Kam explains to Timesport's K.M. BOOPATHY why he has a good chance of becoming the next Badminton World Federation (BWF) president at the May 10 congress in Guangzhou, China.
TIMESPORT: Your nomination came as a surprise. When did you actually know that you were to be nominated?
KAM: I was approached by several countries, who assured me there was support. It is their pledge of support that made me accept the nomination. In fact, I decided to join the race just a few days before the deadline for nominations (two weeks ago). It is important for Malaysia, as a leading badminton nation, to have representatives in BWF. I'm also a lawyer by profession and I can help BWF on legal matters as well.
Q: Why do you think you have been nominated?
A: Many countries have been calling for a change in BWF as things haven't really changed under the new administration over the last few years. What people are hoping for is to see badminton in the Olympics after 2012.
Q: It is going to be a tough challenge seeing that you are taking on (incumbent) BWF president Dr. Kang Young Joong. How much support are you looking at from the affiliates?
A: Quite a number of countries have pledged support and that is the reason I decided to go for it. I'm doing this for the passion that I have for the sport and I always believe in fair game. Being a Malaysian, I'm also looking forward to the support of the BA of Malaysia (BAM).
Q: Some have said that you are actually a proxy of Datuk Punch Gunalan (former BWF deputy president). What is your view?
A: I'm a lawyer, a businessman and I have my own view. I'm no stranger to badminton and my passion for the sport cannot be questioned. Malaysia needs a representative at the highest level (in badminton) and I am willing to take the responsibility. Datuk Punch Gunalan has served the country well as a player and an administrator and I have utmost respect for him. That doesn't mean I'm his proxy.
Q: Obviously, your work with KLRC Berhad (which Kam founded) is another reason for your nomination. What led you to form the club?
A: The club was formed in 2005 and it is very popular around the globe and we have about 70 players -- local and foreign -- under our wings. We have organised tournaments in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Luxembourg and Bulgaria. In fact, it was KLRC which rescued the 2007 World Junior Championships held in Auckland. The tournament was supposed to be postponed but we stepped in to ensure the most prestigious junior event was not sacrificed due to lack of funds.
KLRC Bhd is a Malaysian product. Wherever I go, people relate it to Malaysia because it is KLRC. People can make a career out of badminton and this is the opportunity which KLRC has presented, not just to Malaysian players but also from other nations.
Q: Is there a conflict of interest as you are the Kuala Lumpur BA president (KLBA) and the chairman of KLRC Bhd?
A: There is no conflict at all. Both help each other and help out in whichever way possible. KLBA and KLRC have their separate roles to play. Everyone should be helping the development of badminton, not just the government. We support clubs as it can only make the sport grow bigger.
Q: How is the relationship between KLRC and BAM?
A: As I have always stressed, KLRC is not here to compete with but to help BAM. Some people have misunderstood our objective. We have given players like Sairul Amar Ayub, Lee Tsuen Seng and Lim Pek Siah the opportunity to continue playing after leaving the national team.
If they had not been given the opportunity, would they have made it to the Thomas Cup and Uber Cup teams or even qualify for the World Championships? Pek Siah was not only selected but also made the Uber Cup captain.
I feel that selection (for major events) should be on merit and if these players qualify, they should go.
We will continue giving local players the support but we are also selective in selecting players. Former China international Zhou Mi is a classic example where she approached us with the objective of becoming the World No 1 and she achieved it last year and there are so many others who have benefited. I've never asked for a single cent but I only give. I'm not selling anything to the players. I'm just creating a career for them.
Q: What is KLRC's role in development?
A: Development is the responsibility of the states and BJSS (Bukit Jalil Sports School) while we stick to established players.
Zulfadli Zulkifli is an exception because his father wanted to continue coaching him and thus, didn't allow him to join BJSS. This is because Zulkifli is a qualified coach and has coached the United States Olympics team (in the 90s) and he wanted to continue guiding his son.
I believe Zulfadli is our answer Taufik Hidayat (of Indonesia) and a player of such calibre should be given an alternative to continue progressing and that's what KLRC has provided.
What Zulfadli needs is good management and he is the kind of player who has the ability to make the All England final at the age 18 or 19. Since Fulfadli is under KLRC, he also gets the opportunity to train with Sairul, Tsuen Seng and England's Andrew Smith whenever he comes down for a training stint.
Q: What is your vision for BWF?
A: Badminton's biggest challenge is to remain as an Olympic sport and a more professional approach has to be adopted. This ranges from the administration and also marketing the sport so that it reaches the masses.
Professionalism is the key and we have to take cue from tennis and how ATP and WTA are so successful.
The players must be well looked after and the tournaments need to become more attractive in terms of prize money and status.
Women's profile in badminton must also be raised to ensure gender equality while the Paralympics must also be given the emphasis.
The traditional way of management has to change and a more professional management structure must be put in place.
The manpower should be enough so that BWF can function as a reputed world governing body. All efforts must be channeled in one direction which is to make sure that badminton becomes a permanent feature in the Olympics.
Source from News Straits Times