KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 28 — The Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) has decided to decentralise its junior development programme, thus only players aged 16 and above will be housed at Akademi Badminton Malaysia (ABM) in Bukit Kiara from the 2024 intake.

According to a statement from BAM, the decision was taken by the Task Force for Junior Development, which met yesterday chaired by Datuk V. Subramaniam after receiving input from ABM’s director of coaching Rexy Mainaky and ABM’s head of juniors Jeffer Rosobin.

However, the current batch of 14 to 15-year-old players will remain in ABM.

Previously, national juniors aged 13 and above would be placed in ABM, where they receive badminton training and education under one roof.

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BAM said, ABM will provide outstanding and potential players aged below 16 with additional support in form of monthly allowances and financial support for tournament participations on case-by-case basis, as well as invited to join training at ABM during school holidays.

Subramaniam, who is also BAM deputy president, believes that, allowing shuttlers below 15 to stay with their family is crucial in developing the players’ maturity, mental and emotional well-being.

“In return, they will be able to focus better on their training. Historical data have also shown that players who joined the national team at 16 are not at a disadvantage compared to those joining at a younger age,” he said in the same statement.

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Meanwhile, BAM president Tan Sri Mohamad Norza Zakaria, who lauded the decision, said it is in line with BAM’s aim to decentralise the development programme and to get more stakeholders involved.

“It gives our state associations, coaches and parents at the grassroots the opportunity to work longer with young players, up to the age of 15 before those selected are absorbed into ABM. This will ultimately widen the number of players undergoing systematic training which will augur well for the future,” he said.

The task force also agreed to hold more national level junior tournaments, while the Talent Identification session for the 2024 is scheduled from December 15-21. — Bernama