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SBA announces new national ranking system, other initiatives

An athletes' commission, a parents' support group and a new national ranking system are among the initiatives that the Singapore Badminton Association (SBA) has introduced as it aims to take the sport forward.

SBA president Lawrence Leow made the announcements at a Meet-the-Parents-and-Players session at the SportSG Auditorium on Saturday.

He said: “The main idea behind these sessions is for the SBA to have an engagement programme with our key stakeholders, so we can get their input, and thereafter, move forward as one SBA family.

"Only as a team, with everyone on the same page, can we move forward in a common direction.”

Mr Leow, who took over as SBA president from Mr Tan Kian Chew in June, said his new team has already met many stakeholders, including Sport Singapore and the Singapore Sports School in their first four months on the job.

But equally important are those at the heart and soul of the sport – players and their families.

Players’ feedback for a more transparent approach to player selection for tournaments will see the implementation of a new national ranking system, to be launched in March 2019, in tandem with SBA’s first sanctioned tournament of the year.

It will cover seven age categories for both male and female singles and doubles players. They are Under-9, Under-11, Under-13, Under-15, Under-17, Under-19 and Open.

Singaporean players can accumulate ranking points by competing in SBA-sanctioned and supported competitions. Ranking points will help determine seedings when it comes to selecting players for various international events.

Said Mr Leow: “The move will make it easier for players to track their progress and performance and see how they fare against their peers.”

The system will see players compete in a new National Open in January and could possibly culminate in a finals at the end of the year, when the top 16 from each category will compete for the honour of being the top player for the year.

Added Mr Leow: “My new committee wants to put players at the centre of what we do. So we will also be rolling out other initiatives like an Athletes’ Commission to serve as a platform for athletes to raise issues and concerns with the SBA.”

The Athletes’ Commission will be chaired by former national shuttler Derek Wong.

SBA vice-president Robert Lim will serve as advisor. Apart from being a voice for the athletes, the  commission will also address areas such as athlete development and grooming the next generation of sports administrators and committee members.

Said Mr Wong, a two-time Olympian: “I am most happy and yet afraid to take up the role as Chairperson of the Athletes' Commission. I’m happy to contribute back to the sport that helped to pave a career for me, and preparing me well for the society. It taught me many important life skills such as resilience and hard work.

"Afraid that my 10 years’ experience in badminton may still be insufficient to provide perfect solutions
to address the current/future players’ needs. But I believe the team selected for the commission will work well together and slowly we’ll bring the sport back to its former glory. It’s a tough road but with the right two-way communication and management implementation strategy we should be able to create something great.”

Apart from athletes, parents will also have a bigger voice with the forming of the SBA Parents’ Support Group.

To be led by parents of current or ex-national players, this important committee will play a supporting role in the nurturing and developing of players for the National Team and the overall promotion of badminton in Singapore.

The group will have regular dialogue with the SBA and provide feedback on issues such as practice schedules and player programmes.

The important role that parents play is especially evident in the promising career of rising talent Ms Yeo Jia Min, 19. Currently ranked a career-high 57th in the world, Jia Min stunned China’s Han Yue whom she beat to lift the Vietnam Open singles title in August.

Her success would not have been possible without parents who were supportive and believed in their child’s talent.

Mr Leow presented Jia Min and her parents with a plaque to commemorate her Vietnam feat and for reaching World No.1 in the Badminton World Federation junior rankings in 2017.

The SBA hopes to build on success like Jia Min’s to grow the talent base. Acknowledging that his team face many challenges to raise the level of badminton in Singapore – such as a shrinking talent base and the need for more support for elite athletes – Mr Leow said his team is committed to making Singapore a top badminton nation.

Singapore Badminton Association