Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman (left) listens attentively to BA of Malaysia (BAM) president Datuk Seri Norza Zakaria during the KBS-BAM Townhall at Bukit Kiara earlier today (Thursday). (PIC BY BERNAMA)

KUALA LUMPUR: Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman gave assurances that a special task force will be set up soon to improve the state of Malaysian badminton.

After speaking at the town hall session held earlier today (Thursday) at the Academy Badminton Malaysia (ABM) in Bukit Kiara, Syed Saddiq said that better collaborations between private clubs and the BA of Malaysia (BAM) must be established to create a better ecosystem.

"This is the first town hall session and I do want this to be the last.

"As I had mentioned earlier, there are a few action items that will be carried out which include establishing a task force so we can have a clear guideline on how to deal and interact with private clubs so that they can have better collaboration with BAM.

"They are not meant to replace each other, but to play a complimentary role so the whole ecosystem can benefit and improve.

"Private clubs have invested millions to move badminton forward, so I believe a more structured, collaborative model can be created," said Syed Saddiq, who was joined by BAM president, Datuk Seri Norza Zakaria, as they sat and addressed private club owners and state representatives for the first time in 85 years.

Syed Saddiq, also gave his word to speed up the process of moving the Bukit Jalil Sports School (BJSS) students to ABM by midyear.

This will enable all the shuttlers, including the elite and backup players to come under one roof.

"We need to make ABM the centre of excellence, just like what we want to do with Mokhtar Dahari Academy (Gambang, Pahang) for football.

"It's a radical change to have students study, train and do everything here.

"I have discussed this with Datuk Seri Norza and I will discuss further about funding during the next cabinet meeting.

"I also want us to continue with the line of dialogue, if there are innovative ideas, we want to look into them," he added.

At the same time, Syed Saddiq acknowledged that it is still a challenge to have top quality coaches at grassroots level, as only private clubs can afford to hire them.

"This needs greater collaboration between BAM and the State BAs because right now, only private institutions can afford qualified coaches.

"We also cannot burden BAM alone.

"More discussion are definitely needed for us to come up with a financial plan to see how we can fund top coaches for school level," said Syed Saddiq.

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