HAV­ING taken charge of the BA of Malaysia, pres­i­dent Datuk Seri Norza Zakaria is de­ter­mined to leave a legacy. He shares his thoughts with FABIAN PETER

New Straits Times - - Sport -

Ques­tion: Datuk Seri, you have been the BA of Malaysia (BAM) pres­i­dent for about 20 over days now. What are some of the new plans you in­tend to im­ple­ment?

An­swer: Since as­sum­ing the post of BAM pres­i­dent, I have laid out some big plans for the next five years. One of the main things I have done so far is meet our stake­hold­ers — es­pe­cially our spon­sors — to ex­plain to them in de­tail the plans.

I will have to set out a new cul­ture for our ad­min­is­tra­tive and tech­ni­cal de­part­ment and also the coun­cil.

We can­not be only man­age­ment driven but com­mit­tee driven as well. I have spo­ken to most of the com­mit­tee heads, and they are ex­pected to brief those un­der them as I ex­pect to see their plans when I call for the first coun­cil meet­ing in the next cou­ple of months.

I have also met most of the elite play­ers to un­der­stand in depth the is­sues they face, be­cause I don’t want a su­per­fi­cial re­la­tion­ship.

Af­ter meet­ing them, I un­der­stand that a lot of the is­sues af­fect­ing them are within our con­trol. For ex­am­ple they are some­times un­happy with their equip­ment and lo­gis­tic mat­ters. It may seem small to us but it af­fects them.

As I have said be­fore, we need to re­duce the process losses. In ad­di­tion, I have spo­ken to Morten Frost (BAM tech­ni­cal di­rec­tor) to see what is the plan mov­ing for­ward and have dis­cussed with Lee Chong Wei about the sin­gles de­part­ment be­cause I still con­sider that the most crit­i­cal de­part­ment and will make the nec­es­sary changes af­ter the Sudirman Cup.

Q: We have not won the Thomas Cup since 1992, the Sudirman Cup, the World Cham­pi­onships and the elu­sive Olympic gold medal. Do you see this drought end­ing un­der your reign?

A: One thing I can say is I have been the coach­ing and train­ing (C&T) com­mit­tee chair­man for four years now.

I be­lieve I have the in­side knowl­edge to our strengths and our weaknesses. That ex­pe­ri­ence alone has equipped me as BAM pres­i­dent.

Now if you look at his­tory, Tan Sri Elyas Omar be­came BAM pres­i­dent in 1985 and then won the Thomas Cup in 1992.

We are a lit­tle more lucky these days as I am now har­vest­ing the fruits of my labour.

We al­ready have an acad­emy and the other de­part­ments un­der the na­tional body are do­ing well and I can now zoom in on the men’s sin­gles. How­ever, hav­ing said that, I must stress that I don’t have a magic wand. I can­not do much un­til I have in­creased the talent pool.

That is why we will have three leagues that must be han­dled by the state BAs — the se­nior, pro­fes­sional and am­a­teur leagues. I have also told David Wee (Ne­gri Sem­bi­lan BA pres­i­dent and BAM de­vel­op­ment chair­man) to strengthen our de­vel­op­ment pro­grammes.

Q: As of now, you are still the C&T chair­man. Do you see yourself as a pres­i­dent who is likely to be more in­volved, even in tech­ni­cal mat­ters? A: Pre­vi­ously I was Na­tional Sports In­sti­tute (NSI) chair­man, Kuala Lumpur BA pres­i­dent, and chair­man of a few gov­ern­ment linked com­pa­nies (GLCs) but I have re­lin­quished all that so I can give my full com­mitt­ment to BAM.

I want to be a pres­i­dent who will not only be there for medal pre­sen­ta­tions. Peo­ple say I am a new kid on the block but I will work hard un­til we have achieved a certain Key Per­for­mance In­dex (KPI).

Q: Former gen­eral man­ager Lawrence Chew left BAM af­ter serv­ing for a very short pe­riod. Talks are that there was some ten­sion when you took over as pres­i­dent. Can you clar­ify this?

A: I need to strengthen my man­age­ment and along the way, Lawrence re­signed. Per­haps he has a bet­ter of­fer. We have started ad­ver­tis­ing for a new gen­eral man­ager and also a head for the acad­emy.

Our tar­get is to get ev­ery­thing up and run­ning by Jan­uary. Lawrence made the decision that he wanted to move on.

As far as re­la­tion­ship is con­cerned, there was no is­sue. In fact I was the guy who brought him in. Bad­minton is a sport where the cir­cle is small and ev­ery­one knows one an­other. We don’t want to cre­ate is­sues.

Q: What are your goals for the as­so­ci­a­tion?

A: One of my main goals is to bring about a high per­for­mance cul­ture. This has been my plan since I was the NSI chair­man.

I want to pro­duce ath­letes who are phys­i­cally and men­tally strong. They must have the per­fect pack­age.

I want to leave an in­sti­tu­tion that will con­tin­u­ously pro­duce world class play­ers re­gard­less of who the pres­i­dent is.

I am even con­sid­er­ing ISO cer­ti­fi­ca­tion for our or­gan­i­sa­tion. If you look at the NSI ser­vices, they are cur­rently only ac­ces­si­ble to the Na­tional Podium and Kita Juara ath­letes. What hap­pens af­ter that?

How am I to en­sure that the ju­niors who are mov­ing to the Acad­emy Bad­minton Malaysia (ABM) have ac­cess to proper sport sci­ence fa­cil­i­ties?

That is why we are now in the process of sign­ing an MoU with Universiti Malaysia, be­cause they have all the fa­cil­i­ties and they are also near to us.

We are also in talks with the Ed­u­ca­tion Min­istry about com­ing up with proper mod­ules for our ath­letes who will be com­ing to stay at the acad­emy.

Q: Fi­nally, the Sudirman Cup is your first tour­na­ment as BAM pres­i­dent. How do you rate our chances?

A: We have a strong team who are highly mo­ti­vated to do well. BAM’s tar­get is to at least reach the semi-fi­nals but we must first get past the group stage con­vinc­ingly.

I be­lieve we can do it but our match against Ja­pan will be the tough­est. It is go­ing to be a 50-50 match but if we put our hearts and mind to it, we can come out tops.

Datuk Seri Norza Zakaria says he has met most of the elite play­ers to un­der­stand in depth the is­sues they face.

Datuk Seri Norza Zakaria

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