Thursday September 27, 2012
AABA offer additional outlets for youngsters to hone skills
PETALING JAYA: Young aspiring shuttlers who aim to be the next Lee Chong Wei will now have an additional outlet to hone their skills with the launch of the AirAsia Badminton Academy (AABA).
There will be three AABA outlets, one each in Petaling Jaya, Kepong and Klang.
A total of 120 shuttlers aged between 12-18 have already signed up to join the AABA.
But the biggest boost for budding shuttlers will be the inception of an Under-18 tournament – the Air Asia Cup – later this year.
“I came up with the idea for the academy because we currently lack a successor to Chong Wei, who will eventually retire,” said AABA president Jason Lim Tiat Long at the launch of the academy at the SP Forum 19 Badminton Centre here.
“What is important is that we give some of these shuttlers a chance to compete in more tournaments, which is why we came out with a plan to introduce the Air Asia Cup.
“We’ve actually started the academy unofficially since July and some of the players have had to opportunity to compete in tournaments.
“They were team champions at the Hong Kong International Tournament and third at the World Chinese Badminton Championship in Beijing.
“Some of the players under our wings are already state players and one of our aim is to supplement the BA of Malaysia (BAM),” added Jason, a former national back-up shuttler.
AirAsia group chief executive officer Tan Sri Tony Fernandes, who was present at the launch, said the main objective of the academy “is to aid promising shuttlers who are struggling with funds”.
“We like to support future stars who find fundings hard to come by and when Jason approached me with this academy idea, I couldn’t say no,” said Tony.
BAM secretary Ng Chin Chai lauded the efforts of the private sector to aid in grassroots development.
“Academies like this and KLRC are very good for the grassroots levels because it’ll generally help to improve the standard of badminton at schools and district levels,” said Chin Chai.
“It also helps take away a little of the burden BAM face in trying to produce young talents and it’ll also help to improve the quality of the national team in the future.
“We (BAM) are happy with such efforts and will try our best to support more academies.