Young trainees (right) listen to a briefing on the game at Arena Sukan Simpang Tiga.

S’wak leg of Astro Camp attracts 390 kids

KUCHING: Some 390 children aged 10–12 years old from all over Sarawak flocked to the Astro Kem Badminton (AKB) for the sixth leg of a national tour and selection camp at Arena Sukan Simpang Tiga, here, yesterday.

It’s the sixth year of training camp for Astro which has been responsible for the foundation training of many of the current crop of national trainees at the age group levels.

Its director of corporate communications Tammy Toh said: “We have had over 15 thousand boys and girls coming through the programme and this year we have six legs with Kuching as the last leg of our training camp and selections.”

“We work closely with all authorities, especially BAM (Badminton Association Malaysia) and provide very specialised training meant for grassroots development and foundational badminton,” Toh continued.

Young trainees (right) listen to a briefing on the game at Arena Sukan Simpang Tiga.

“For instance today, we also have a 7-9 years old age group training camp for the foundational players and the more serious attention is put into the 10-12 years old who are going to be evaluated today and the top 60 of them will go on to attend tomorrow’s more extensive training and selection where we will see the top shuttlers picked to join a national level training camp with all the other trainees picked up in the previous five legs,” she added.

AKB is a CSR project that aims to identify talented young players and nurture them to become badminton prodigies through a series of comprehensive training programmes, as well as competitive-play experiences at regional and international levels.

Several cadets of the AKB programme have also been given scholarships to the Singapore National Sports School — with a minimum of two persons a year getting the coveted scholarship.

Meanwhile, up to 70 percent or 45 out of 64 students at the Bukit Jalil National Sports School were all former AKB trainees and 83 percent of allocations under Singapore’s programme for Malaysian badminton students are spent on AKB students.

Last year a total of 358 players were picked nationwide to attend two weeks of centralised training at the Bukit Jalil National Sports Centre with 177 of them going further to attend a stint of training with the Japanese national team under the guidance of international coach Park Joo Bong.

The AKB training and selection team are led by head coach and former world No. 1 player, Chan Chong Meng with another former world No. 1 and BAM’s coaching director, Wong Choong Han and assisted by former internationals Lee Wan Wah, Chew Choon Eng and Chan Chong Ming.