By Champika Fernando
A 250,000 monthly investment on Malaysian national Shankar Annamalai, the national badminton coach has come under-fire with experts suggesting that Sri Lanka needs a high profile individual to head the coaching department.
Annamalai who took up position a few months back having an unceremonious ouster by a previous administration in its first stint here in Sri Lanka, is currently in charge of the national players as well as scouting for rural talents.
Sri Lanka’s top ranked shuttler and Olympian Niluka Karunaratne and his personal coach Young Man Kim of South Korea recently said that investing in a foreign expert is important but warned that investment should be made on the right individual who can raise the profile of the sport.
“If you need to produce good quality players, you need a very good coach, funding and good facilities. Otherwise it's a big joke," said Young Man Kim, the Polish national badminton coach during the London Olympics early this month.
"First of all you need a coach who was at least a national champion, one who has represented the country at the world level. Otherwise how do they know what it takes to produce a world champion? Half-baked coaches aren't going to make any difference," Kim was quoted saying.
According to sources, the Malaysian national is capable of lifting the standard to a certain level but to raise it further Sri Lanka needs to top rank coach.
“Look at what has happened to Niluka. He has raised his game to such a level that he has not got a opposition even to train with or a qualified coach to lift him to the next level. We need to get the next bunch of players into Niluka’s standard as soon as possible, if we are to succeed at the highest level of the game,” a concerned coach who wished to remain anonymous said.
Badminton chief, Parakrama Basnayake admitted that Annamalai might not have been the option but said that he was the one they could afford at this moment.
“He is a good coach recommended by the Asian Badminton Confederation and is involved with talent scouting in addition to looking after the national team. But I know he has his limitation. He can raise the standard to a certain level but not to the international level,” Basnayake admitted.
He said that the country has no capability to invest a huge sum on a foreign trainer at the moment.
“If you look at Niluka and the rest of the players, there’s big gab which we need to bridge before thinking of a top coach. Yes, the present coach is not good enough for Niluka but he is more than enough for the rest of the players,” he explained.
Badminton in Sri Lanka has raised its profile in the recent past where many believe if proper investment us made for the sport, Sri Lanka could win international medals.