This report came out in today’s edition of The Straits Times:
Suspended Hendra may play
(The Straits Times, 04 Aug 2010)
By Lin Xinyi
THE Singapore Badminton Association (SBA) may compromise on a ban it had imposed on national shuttler Hendra Wijaya, 25.
The doubles specialist is currently serving a three-month suspension from all competitions for displaying poor attitude during training this year.
The suspension, dealt by the SBA executive committee, was supposed to end on Aug 24. But now Hendra appears likely to return to competitive action a day earlier in the Yonex-Sunrise Badminton World Federation (BWF) World Championships.
In the latest list of qualifiers for the Aug 23-29 tournament in Paris, Hendra and brother Hendri Kurniawan Saputra, 29, are confirmed entries for the men’s doubles event.
Edwin Pang, the SBA’s chief executive, said: ‘We had hoped that, by the time Hendra was scheduled to play his first match, his suspension would be over.’
However, based on the tentative schedule, the opening round of the men’s doubles begins on Aug 23.
This means the SBA’s development and selection sub-committee will have to decide by next week whether Hendra will play. Pang conceded that there is a dilemma.
‘In making the decision, we’ll have to consider that letting him play may be perceived as not keeping strictly to the letter of the ban,’ he said.
‘On the other hand, this is an important tournament. The coaches do not want this technicality – the difference of one day – to affect Singapore’s chances of putting up a good show.’
Pang added that Hendra had served a period of unofficial suspension before his official suspension kicked in on May 24.
The player has already missed a number of tournaments, including the Li-Ning Singapore Open and Djarum Indonesia Open Super Series events.
His absence in world-ranking events has seen his doubles ranking drop 20 rungs from No. 22. Regardless, Hendra and Hendri, the 2007 SEA Games bronze medallists, are still recognised as Singapore’s top men’s doubles pairing.
Meanwhile, Zhang Beiwen – the other national shuttler whose three-month suspension owing to ill-discipline also started on May 24 – will definitely miss the world championships.
Her entry in the women’s singles event was withdrawn by the SBA last month. Zhang’s suspension also excludes her from training.
Said Pang: ‘Luan Ching (the singles chief coach) has no way of ensuring that Beiwen trains under his supervision. Based on that, he was not able to recommend her for selection.
‘However, Hendra has been performing adequately in training. Not only in terms of form and fitness but also his attitude, for Eng Hian (the doubles chief coach) to include him in the squad.’
I think I can safely guess at what the Singapore Badminton Association’s decision is going to be eventually.
They will lift the suspension on Hendra and let him play in the World Championships, simply because they do not want to upset Singapore’s chances of doing well in the tournament.
And if and when that happens, my already-poor estimation of the SBA will drop a further notch.
Look, if you can’t even discipline your players properly, if you have to do it calculatingly, with one eye on the tournaments that the player will not end up missing, then, it really doesn’t speak well of your office, does it?
Seriously, what sort of message are you sending to your other players who will be watching on with interest?
And we know why the SBA needs to chalk up good results at the World Championships — so that they live up to their KPIs and deliverables to the Singapore Sports Council, and ensure that their level of funding from the SSC for the next financial workyear will not be affected.
Some people may accuse me of having a lack of compassion, or of being inflexible, perhaps even of missing the forest for the trees.
I say that in school, and in life, I was taught to stick to my principles and values, and never to compromise on them.
Please lah, SBA, if there is a message to be sent in the severity of the punishment to Hendra, then please, make sure that message comes out loud and clear.
If he has to feel the pain, if he has to miss out on one of the biggest competitions in the career of a paid professional badminton player, well, then I say too bad. He should have thought of the consequences before he decided to start showing attitude at training.
And so, to the SBA, I say, deal the punishment like a man.
There should be no ifs and buts about it. Because what is at stake is your reputation.
At the end of the day, people are only going to think that you guys are gutless clowns for not having the courage to stick to your guns, opting instead to soften your stand so as to justify your pursuit of the Foreign Talent Scheme and ensure that your level of public funding is not affected.
Seriously, where is the pride in that?
Finally, kudos to The Straits Times for exposing this. I am absolutely sure it would have all been conveniently swept under the carpet at the national body if the intrepid reporter hadn’t gone about digging for information.
Yours in sport
Singapore Sports Fan