Friday, May 30, 2014


By Mansor Puteh

When will the badminton officials and the government leaders learn how not to overdo their showing of support for the Malaysian badminton team? How much can they show that before they become a nuisance to the players and destroy their morale and fighting spirit?

Badminton players and those involved in other international sporting events are already under pressure to fight, and the least that they need is additional and unnecessary pressure from the officials and government leaders and also their wives.

Showing too much support can bring about negative effects. It was when they did not think too highly of the Malaysian badminton team when they flew into New Delhi for the finals of the Thomas Cup earlier this month that they managed to gain a spot in the finals.

The officials did not think the team could make it to the finals; and if they made it to the semi-finals, they should be happy with that. But they went on to enter the finals playing Japan who no one had earlier given any chance of making it to the semi-finals, too.

So in a way, bother the Malaysian and Japanese were underdogs, with almost everyone thinking that China and Indonesia would be in the finals.

Malaysia’s twenty-two year wait to enter the finals of the Thomas Cup tournament and win the cup has proven to be illusive. The sports officials must learn something from the debacle. Or were they just happy to see the Malaysian team enter the finals?

It happened so suddenly without anyone expecting to happen, because the team comprising of other players were so easily trounced in the Thomas Cup matches in the past that no Malaysian could imagine such a thing to happen this time. 

The finals of the Thomas Cup, was just held in New Delhi, India. Malaysia trounced Indonesia, with Japan trouncing China, for the two teams to enter the finals.

Japan having trounced mighty China, had players who are relatively unknown in the international badminton scene; yet, they were able to also trounce the Malaysian team, almost effortlessly. They could have done better than to give Malaysia two of the three sets after locking with Malaysia at two - two.

Too much support was given by many in Malaysia who had gone to New Delhi but this could be the undoing of the players, all of whom must be eager to show how they had also contributed to the win to bring back the Cup to the country.

The Japanese players did not have to face similar pressures; their leaders and officials from their badminton association did not torment them with unnecessary pressures, with their presence there.

So they were able to play nice and trounce Malaysia without feeling too much jubilation.

Malaysia was already jubilant at its team making it in the finals after so long. The Japanese was cool to the fact that they too had made it to the finals. And Japan had not been known to have produced world-class badminton players, compared to Malaysia or even China.

No one knows if the finals were also shown live on television in Japan and if the Japanese were excited to see their national badminton team going that far playing in a sport which was generally not an everyday sport for the average Japanese, unlike in Malaysia where one can see a badminton court everywhere, especially the makeshift ones, which have the barest essentials.

It is also not odd to see Malaysian kids playing street badminton with no court or net and just on the roads in front of their houses in the evening.

One cannot see that sort of thing in Japan where badminton is not a regular sport but which requires a lot of effort for them to take part in.  

Yet, the new generation of batch of players of Japan had shown their mettle, beating the more experienced Malaysian players.

One can also bet that the players are also not given ‘superstar’ status like their counterparts in Malaysia, who are given wide media attention and coverage. Even the officials of the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) can also attract a lot of media attention with their antics and comments.

So one of the main reasons why Malaysia lost to the Japanese could be to the too much publicity and support and pep-talk that the BAM officials and the people in the media and ministry had given them that had caused the Malaysian team to lose the Thomas Cup this time around, when it was just without their grasp.

BAM must surely have psychologists to give support to the players so their minds could be put at ease, so they can concentrate on the game.

But BAM did not have psychologists to work out with their officials and some others who thought their presence and support could spur the players to greater heights.

It did not work that way.

These people ought to have known better; that they should have made themselves scarce and not show their support which was unnecessary now that the Malaysian team had got to the finals on their own without being given the support that those people were now trying to give them, to shower them with praise and to give projections on how they could trounce the Japanese players.

One can expect how the officials and also their wives had already planned to welcome the Malaysian badminton players when they alight from Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) holding the Thomas Cup and being paraded all the way to the city where a huge crowd would wait them there, to shower more praise on them.

And this too must have created in the players a sense of importance, that the whole country is watching their every move; for they are the ones who could give their country some measure of excitement with their achievement.

But alas, this was not to be.

But alas, also, the officials and their wives will never learn that their presence the pep-talk could not take the players very far. On the contrary, they could take them nowhere, to defeat. Such acts are not necessary.

The only consolation for Malaysia and its media is to try and be happy with the defeat of the Malaysian badminton team in New Delhi.

Are they celebrating in Tokyo? Was the Japanese badminton team greeted by screaming supporters at Narita Airport and was paraded to the city and welcomed by their prime minister and wife?

Are they getting perks from their government and other companies?   

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