Badminton: Boost for youth development

Badminton: Boost for youth development
TALENT: Promising shuttlers such as Ryan Ng have come through the previous youth tournament structure, which the Singapore Badminton Association is revamping this year.

The Singapore Badminton Association (SBA) is reorganising its youth competition and talent identification structure, starting with the Global EduHub Championships next month.

The tournament was formerly known as the Pilot Pen National Age Group Singles, and was one of two age-group tournaments organised by the association.

The other was the SPH Age Group Doubles last December.

Starting this year, the SBA will no longer organise local age-group tournaments, instead handing the rights to external parties.

The badminton body will sanction four local age-group tournaments a year - during the school holidays in March, June, September and December - to ensure standards in aspects such as organisation and safety.

World Champ Distributor has been awarded the rights to organise the Global EduHub Championships, as well as another tournament in June.

The SBA will partner and sanction Chinese Swimming Club's tournament in September, while the SPH Age Group tournament in December will be revamped, and organised by the private Singapore Badminton Hall in Geylang.

There is also space for at least two more sanctioned tournaments, in June and December.

Handing the rights for local age-group tournaments to external parties will allow the association to focus on organising Badminton World Federation-sanctioned tournaments such as the OUE Singapore Open in April and the OUE Youth International.

SBA chief executive Ronnie Lim said: "We have the technical expertise... And we want to work together with partners, for them to leverage on our experience and raise their standards."

Lim added that the national youth coaches will be present at the local age-group tournaments organised by external parties to scout for talent, with semi-finalists from all four competitions to be invited to trial for the National Intermediate Squad (NIS).

Trials will be scheduled after each of the four tournaments.

Lim said: "Previously, our talent identification was more ad hoc, we want to be more systematic and providing more pathways in our pipeline for talent."

While coaches have been scouting the latter stages of the National Schools tournament, the competition's team format means talented individuals may not be identified if their teams are knocked out earlier.

RECTIFY

That is a situation that SBA is aiming to rectify with the revamped competition structure.

Lim has not set a target for new entrants into the 30-strong NIS - with a mix of Singapore Sports School and mainstream-school shuttlers - from this revamped structure.

He said: "We are willing to take in as many as there are, provided that they willing to commit themselves to the training, bearing in mind their standards, since this is the national youth team."

The SBA is also looking at expanding its youth development and identification structure further down the pipeline.

The youngest NIS shuttler now is 13 years old, but youth tournaments attract younger participants whom the SBA is keen to develop.

Lim said: "Those who are younger than 13 may not be that developed yet, physically or otherwise, but perhaps in the next phase we can look at identifying and developing these potential talents ourselves as well."


This article was first published on February 28, 2015.
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