BAM president Datuk Seri Norza Zakaria, who chaired the executive committee (Exco) meeting on Wednesday, admitted it is a tedious process, but must be done for the development of the sport. — fotoBERNAMA

KUALA LUMPUR: The Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) are hoping for the Academy Badminton Malaysia (ABM) in Bukit Kiara to be fully operational by the first quarter of next year.

Currently, only the training hall (with 18 courts), office and meeting rooms are being utilised.

BAM president Datuk Seri Norza Zakaria, who chaired the executive committee (Exco) meeting on Wednesday, admitted it is a tedious process, but must be done for the development of the sport.

It is understood that contractors will have to rectify a number of defects to the new building before handing over the project to the Sports Ministry, who will then officially hand it over to BAM.

As for housing the Bukit Jalil Sports School (BJSS) students at ABM, Norza explained that it is still in discussion between the Sports Ministry and the Ministry of Education (MoE).

"It is definitely ambitious, but it is something we have been wanting to do for a long time. All our efforts including the AirAsia Junior National League is for the sake of development," said Norza.

"I must, however, say that it is not as easy as we had expected. It involves tweaking certain policies. For example, we want all 60 students from BJSS to live and train here full time.

"In order to do that, they will need to study here as well, but unlike the football academies in our country such as the one in Gambang, we don't have a school nearby.

"We are looking at having teachers here, and probably having six core subjects for the students. Now this is where our discussion is with the MoE. At the moment, we don't have a science lab, so how will a science stream student study here?

"We are looking at being fully operational by the first quarter, even if it means starting in phases. We could probably bring the Form Four and Five students over first."

At the moment, there are close to 80 players from the elite and backup squad. Through the Malaysian Stadium Board, BAM are also expected to acquire Juara Stadium, which has another 18 courts.

Norza, also added that five coaches will be hired soon for the development squad.

Right now, Kwan Yoke Meng is in charge of the Form Four and Form Five students, while China national Zhou Kejian is the head coach for the Form One-Form Three students at BJSS.

"We want to have 10 coaches under these two (Yoke Meng and Kejian). So under Yoke Meng, there will be four more coaches, two for singles and two for doubles, while under Zhou Kejian, we are looking at six coaches.

"There is an opening for two coaches under Yoke Meng and three more under Zhou Kejian. This new coaching structure will be in place beginning January."

Other matters discussed

* BAM to receive a new bus from Bank Rakyat

* Seven states have since successfully hosted the AirAsia-BAM National Junior League, while the rest are expected to complete their state-level competitions by the first week of December. The National Finals will be held early next year.

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