PETALING JAYA: The just concluded 100Plus National Junior Circuit Grand Prix Finals was seen as the platform to showcase the next badminton talent in the country.
And there were good potential in Jagdish Singh-Low Juan Shen (boys’ doubles), Chow Mei Kuan-Lee Meng Yean (girls’ doubles) and Yang Li Lian (girls’ singles), who emerged as champions in the Under-18 competition. And girls’ Under-16 winner Sylvia Kavita Kumares showed that she is one to watch in the future.
However, these shuttlers come under the Bukit Jalil Sports School’s (BJSS) programme and much was expected of them.
In the boys’ singles department, the situation is a little more dire.
BJSS fielded eight players in the boys’ Under-18 singles and three of them did not even make the quarter-finals. And the winner, Zulfadli Zulkifli, is not a member of the national badminton set-up.
The 18-year-old Kuala Lumpur player’s win was made even more impressive as he beat a host of BJSS shuttlers, including Nur Mohd Azriyn Ayup in the final.
Zulfadli should join the national set-up because it will only serve to make him a better player. Even KL coach A. Sankar has the same opinion.
“Zulfadli is an incredibly talented player and only through a good training programme such as the BAM’s can he go far and fulfil his potential,” said Sankar.
However, Zulfadli played down the idea of joining the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM).
“For now, I am satisfied with my training programme with KLRC (a professional badminton outfit) and there is no immediate plan to join the national set-up,” he said.
“My current goals are to play for Malaysia in the Asian Juniors (in July) and the World Juniors (in October). It doesn’t matter whether I am with the BAM or not because at the end of the day, I still have to give my best for the country.
“A reason for having the edge over the BJSS players is my participation in more international tournaments than them. The experience I gained helps make me a better player.”
However, Zulfadli said that he would not totally rule out joining the BAM.
“My long-term goal is to gain more world ranking because I want to play in an Olympics. It is an honour to don national colours and maybe being part of the BAM may improve my chances,” said Zulfadli, who is currently ranked at No. 188.
For the Asian Juniors, Zulfadli is certain to be one of the key players in the team. He did better than Azriyn and Goh Giap Chin in GP Finals and will be joining the national juniors for centralised training next month.
For the BAM though, all hope is not lost.
Azriyn and Giap Chin showed plenty of promise in the tournament last week and they can be counted on too to win honours in the Asian Juniors.
Malaysia have never won the singles title in the series with only two runner-up finishes by Mohd Arif Abdul Latif (2007) and Iskandar Zulkarnian Zainuddin (2009).
With Zulfadli leading the charge, the title duck could be broken. But whether he joins the BAM or not after that is left to be seen.
But as the BAM general manager, Kenny Goh, puts it: “The door is always open for him to join us because such a move will only be in the best interest for a player of his talent.”
Zulfadli took the first game 21-13 against Chong Wei Feng. Not long ago, he took the first game against Liew Daren too before going down in three. Good that he keeps giving the backups a run for their money.
That's of course. As i said before this, he didn't train FULL TIME as our back up players did but then still manage to win at least a set from them, is considered very good already.
Consider his young age and condition of training, it's a shame for our ELITE BACK UP players..