Tag Archives: Ashton Chen

A black day for Singapore sports, thanks to the Singapore Badminton Association

The report:

This report appeared in today’s edition of The Straits Times


Shuttlers in limbo

(The Straits Times, 11 Jan 2011)

10 players hit as team of second stringers are dissolved amid revamp

By Lin Xinyi & May Chen

SEVERAL members of the national badminton Team 2 squad are set to walk out on the Singapore Badminton Association (SBA), after 10 singles players were told to choose between helping out as sparring partners or leaving.

Some were given the additional option of seeking a career in doubles.

The Straits Times understands that the 16-strong Team 2 squad – consisting of eight men and eight women – were dissolved recently as part of SBA’s restructuring plans.

A National Intermediate Squad (NIS) for players aged 13 to 17 are expected to be formed soon as part of a strategy to develop youth talent.

A handful of Team 2 shuttlers, including Ngo Yi Chye, who finished 27th in the men’s singles at last year’s World Junior Championships, have been promoted to Team 1.

Team 1 boast the Republic’s best shuttlers like Singapore No.1 Ashton Chen.

The remaining 10 shuttlers from Team 2 have been left in limbo.

Although they have been invited to the NIS, those who join can expect to play the role of sparring partners where they will get no allowance nor opportunities to compete in overseas tournaments. The other alternative would be to leave.

Currently, full-time trainees are paid allowances. Team 2 members were also sent to overseas tournaments such as the Yonex-Sunrise Malaysia Open Grand Prix Gold 2010.

The shuttlers affected are Ng Zong Ren, Eugene Sng, Kelvin Ho, Koh Jia Yi, Tan Kia Hwee, Toh Siew Fen, Samantha Neo, Noriko Goh, Aisyah Latib and Li Bo.

Ng, 20, said he has no option but to walk out after SBA officials told him this on Jan 3.

‘I served SBA for 11 years,’ he said. ‘After all our hard work, they asked us to leave just like that. There was no warning. We feel we’ve been unfairly treated.’

Ho is another shuttler who has seen his sporting dreams evaporate overnight.

The member of Singapore’s bronze medal-winning 2009 South-east Asia Games men’s team and 2010 Thomas Cup qualifying squad was told that he was too old to become a world-class shuttler.

The news is a blow to the 21-year-old, who opted against taking his O level examinations in 2007 – despite his father’s disapproval – to train full-time.

A shocked and disappointed Ho added that members of Team 2 were not given ample chances to prove themselves at overseas tournaments.

He said. ‘I’ve no choice but to move on, and hope that going back to studying will give me a better future.’

Others are still mulling over their options. Toh, 18, said: ‘They gave us a week to think it through, but there are some complications and misunderstandings so we need to clarify. They said they’ll still focus on us if we join NIS, but I’m not sure if that will happen.’

The SBA could not be reached for comment by press time.

Earlier in the day, it announced that chief executive Edwin Pang would be leaving the association on Feb 9, after reaching the end of a three-year secondment. Michael Foo, a member of the SBA management committee, will be the acting CEO. The SBA said it will begin the search for a new CEO shortly.


My thoughts:

Thanks to the Singapore Badminton Association, parents of children who are talented in badminton now know that the best thing they can ever do for their kids is to discourage them from pursuing their dreams of turning professional.

The way the SBA cruelly axed the 10 shuttlers from their national team 2 squad just shows how much the national body values its full-time players.

My jaw dropped when I read the news report below today.

Effectively, the SBA were telling these teenagers and young adults that they had no more future in the sport, and that if they wanted to continue being in the national set-up, they would have to do it as sparring partners, and get this, without being paid any allowances.

I don’t understand how the SBA could have reached such a conclusion about these 18 and 19 year olds when just a year or two ago, it was inviting them to give up their studies for full-time training.

And now, after giving up two years of their lives, during which they could have completed their further studies, these shuttlers are being thrown out into the cold with not even any form of compensation or word or gesture of thanks and appreciation from the SBA.

Here’s my question to the SBA:

1. How in the world did you conclude in just two years that these shuttlers have no more potential in them to become world-class players? Most of them are just 18 or 19, for goodness sake!

2. And were you even fair to them in the first place?

Did you give them ample opportunities to develop themselves in the two years? I am sure that they, being Team 2 squad members, were not given as much attention or resources as the Team 1 squad. If so, then aren’t you to blame if they have not been developing as well as you would have liked?

This is  a black day for Singapore sports.

Sports administrators in Singapore have always been moaning about how it is so hard to get local youths to consider becoming full-time athletes, and here we have a national body who amazingly proceeds to throw 10 such passionate youths out in the streets.

I can only hope that the SBA will end up paying a high price for its decision and suffer the repercussions.

Shame on you, SBA. You guys are the shits and deserve to be spat on.

Yours in sport

Singapore Sports Fan

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Congratulations to the SBA for staying true to form. Bravo.

The report:

As I had expected and predicted in my previous post (Where are your principles, SBA?),  the Singapore Badminton Association decided to cut its suspension of shuttler Hendra Wijaya by a day so that he can play in the World Championships in Paris. The report from The Straits Times is below.

I guess this is what happens when you throw in your lot with the Foreign Talent Scheme, investing huge amounts of money to develop and groom shuttlers from other countries and turning them into naturalised citizens.

Because you’ve become so dependent on them for success, and because your KPIs for more government funding is dependent on their successes, you are willing to throw your principles out of the window just to get the much-sought after results.

I wonder how the SBA would have reacted if the shuttler in question was a local-born chap who is ranked lower than Hendra, with little chance of being selected for or going far in the World Championships.

Would we then see the national sports association keeping the suspension and then puffing up its chest for all to admire its tough stance on poor discipline?

After seeing how the SBA rushed to get China-born Huang Chao citizenship in January so that he can play in the Youth Olympic Games, instead of considering the three other local-born shuttlers in their YOG provisional squad (which now seems a sham on hindsight),  and bearing in mind the Zheng Qingjin fiasco two years back, I know what I would expect.

Yours in sport

Singapore Sports Fan


  The report:

Singapore shuttlers in all five events

(The Straits Times, 23 Aug 2010)

 By Lin Xinyi

 SINGAPORE has sent an eight-member squad to the World Badminton Championships, starting in Paris today.

It will be represented in all five events, including the men’s doubles, after the Singapore Badminton Association (SBA) confirmed that Hendra Wijaya will be available to play.

In May, he was handed a three-month suspension from all tournaments that was to end on Aug 24.

But an unofficial two-week suspension before the start of his ban, coupled with good attitude during training, will see him play in a tournament a day earlier.

Hendra and his brother Hendri Kurniawan Saputra will face Germany’s Michael Fuchs and Ingo Kindervater today.

Ashton Chen and Derek Wong will compete in the men’s singles, while Xing Aiying is Singapore’s sole representative in the women’s singles.

Yao Lei will feature in the women’s doubles with Shinta Mulia Sari and the mixed doubles with Chayut Triyachart.

Singapore’s best hopes lie in the women’s doubles where Shinta and Yao Lei are the 11th seeds.


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Current state of the men’s national badminton team suggests that the SBA has failed in talent development

The report:

This report appeared in The Straits Times on Friday. I’m reproducing half of it (the relevant half to me, that is):

Shuttlers need ‘another 2-3 years’

(The Straits Times, 14 May 2010)

By Lin Xinyi

SINGAPORE Badminton Association (SBA) president Lee Yi Shyan believes it will take another two or three more years before the current crop of national shuttlers can deliver the goods at major tournaments.

Speaking on the sidelines of the SBA Player Development Fund-Sembcorp Trailblazer-Wong Kok Siew Scholarships awards presentation ceremony yesterday, he noted that the shuttlers are in a transition phase and targets set for them have to be realistic.

“Our immediate task is to get our young players to international tournaments and let them gain experience,” said Mr Lee, who is also the Minister of State for Trade and Industry, and Manpower.

“At this stage, I think we have to focus on some of the regional tournaments before we can aim for world-class tournaments.”

The Li-Ning Singapore Open next month will be an opportunity for most of the shuttlers to gain exposure.

However, the Republic will not have a men’s singles representative in the main draw for the second year running.

Singapore’s men have struggled for success following the retirements of stalwarts Ronald Susilo and Kendrick Lee.

The likes of Ashton Chen, 20, will be hoping to feature in the qualifying round. He was one of 19 award recipients at the Singapore Sports School yesterday.

A total of $50,000 was disbursed in the three award categories. The awards are aimed at recognising the efforts of senior athletes by preparing them for their post-playing careers, and to motivate younger athletes by helping them further develop their badminton careers….


My thoughts:

I can’t help feeling that the media let Mr Lee Yi Shyan, the president of the Singapore Badminton Association (SBA), too easily when they asked him about the current gap in talent in the national men’s team.

Maybe it is because they were being respectful and deferential. After all, Lee is the  Minister of State for Trade and Industry and Manpower. After all, you wouldn’t want to get a Minister angry and annoyed with you, would you?

But let’s call a spade a spade.

Yes, maybe Lee is right. It may take two to three years before the current crop of national shuttlers can deliver the goods on the international stage. Maybe it will take even longer.

Or maybe they won’t be able to hack it at the highest levels in the end.

But the fact that there is even this massive transitional gap between Ronald Susilo and Kendrick Lee’s retirements and this current batch of shuttlers suggests that the  SBA’s talent development system has been a colossal flop.

I don’t understand: how in the world did the SBA allow such a situation to happen in the first place?

We shouldn’t be waiting for the next batch of national players to mature.

We should be having, at the very least, a small pool of competent players waiting in the wings and capable of taking over from Susilo and Kendrick the moment they retired.

What happened to the SBA’s system for developing national players?

The national body can’t use the excuse that it was caught off-guard by Susilo and Kendrick’s retirements.

After all, they’ve been around for so long that it was only going to be a matter of time before they stepped down. Wasn’t there any planning in anticipation of the impending retirements?

Maybe there weren’t any good enough local players coming through the ranks, and from the schools in the past decade (even that sounds a bit strange as I write it, to be honest).

Then, does this mean that the SBA, a strong and unashamed investor in foreign ‘talent’ for the last 15 years,  also failed in finding good enough up-and-coming shuttlers from foreign shores to fill Susilo and Kendrick’s shoes?

Maybe it was a combination of both:

The SBA has not been able to find good-enough ‘foreign talents’. Yet the amount of investment they’d put in grooming and developing the ones they got instead convinced the local talents that it would just not be worth their while to sacrifice their youth for the sport.

TODAY sports editor Leonard Thomas suggested all this in his commentary in today’s edition of the newspaper (15 May 2010), albeit more politely.

“The association missed a great chance when they failed to use the success of Ronald Susilo to develop a strong base of potential talent,”  he wrote (you can read his commentary here).

Perhaps it’s time for the sporting authorities to ask whether it should be pouring so much public money into a sport  that has delivered so little in recent years, is overly reliant on foreign imports and whose talent development system is clearly flawed.

Yours in sport

Singapore Sports Fan

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