Sankar fired up for challenge
KLBA coach aims for better results with team
KUALA Lumpur Badminton Association (KLBA) coach A. Sankar has returned to a familiar territory to guide the junior shuttlers with the city side after his coaching stints abroad.
However, the 40-year-old admitted it would be another different experience establishing a new relationship with the new faces in the Kuala Lumpur team.
“Most of the former trainees have either moved up to another level or graduated from secondary school. A majority of them in the current team are newcomers. We will be going through another rebuilding process in grooming the juniors,” said Sankar, who took charge of the Sri Lanka and Iran teams as well as serving with the Badminton Asia Confederation (BAC).
And he is aiming to carry on his sweet homecoming when the Kuala Lumpur youngsters, strengthened with the services of Asian junior boys’ singles semi-finalist Zulfadli Zulkifli, went on to capture the national junior inter-state mixed team crown last year.
“It was a great winning start in commencing my tenure with the Kuala Lumpur team again. It is going to be tough to retain the title this year. We will need to inspire our players to strive for improvement and be all fired up in rising to the challenge,” said Sankar, who was also part of the victorious team in 2007.
Recently, the foursome of Ho Yen Mei, Lee Shu Ern, Choo Chi Earn and Soh Wooi Yik received the call up to join the national junior training programme based at Bukit Jalil.
Although the 14-year-old Yen Mei has been offered a place on numerous occasions for displaying her promise over the years, her father Albert has decided to keep her closer to home in the past.
“We were concerned because Yen Mei has remained stagnant without showing tremendous improvement last year. We spoke to her father and he has finally agreed that his daugh- ter needs to intensity her training as well as get more exposure to stiffer competitions in scaling greater heights,” Sankar said.
Besides finishing as the semifinalists of the girls’ Under-14 singles at the national junior grand prix finals last year, Yen Mei paired up with Shu Ern to settle for second spot in the doubles of the same agegroup.
Meanwhile, Wooi Yik and Chi Earn also featured in the boys’ Under-12 and Under-14 sections respectively at the grand prix finals.
Currently, Sankar is keeping a watchful eye on 50 trainees aged between 12 and 18 showing good commitment in training.
And the hopefuls will be out to impress the selectors and secure their places in the national junior championships starting with the first leg of zone B contest scheduled at Seremban, Negri Sembilan from March 3-6.
Sankar said they would get a clearer indication of their players’ current form after conducting the ranking match-play in the four agegroups — Under-12, Under-14, Under-16 and Under-18.
“We are aiming to complete the exercise before the end of February. It will also give us an idea of the combinations for the doubles before naming our entries for the opening national junior competition of the year. Although they are considered as the underdogs, the ultimate aim for them is to attempt to qualify for the grand prix finals after the two legs of zone tournaments,” he added.
In form: Yen Mei deciding to join the national junior training programme based at Bukit Jalil.
Listen up: A file photo of Sankar (right) with the Kuala Lumpur junior shuttlers before going on his overseas stint.