Tue, 30 May 2000

PBSI looks to overhaul player recruitment system

JAKARTA (JP): After Indonesian men's shuttlers brought home the Thomas Cup by defeating China on May 21, the Badminton Association of Indonesia (PBSI) has started grooming younger players to defend the sport's most prestigious team event in two years time.

PBSI official in charge of athletes development Mangombar Ferdinand Siregar said on Monday that the Thomas and Uber cups in Kuala Lumpur from May 11 to May 21 gave a valuable lesson to the organization to reconsider its promotion, relegation and recruitment system.

"Other countries, especially China, anticipated our strength by recruiting young talented shuttlers. If we don't want to be shut out of the spotlight on the podium, we must work faster and harder in recruiting young players," he said.

The 10 members of Indonesia's Thomas Cup team are an average of 25 years or older except for Taufik Hidayat, who will be 19 on Aug. 10. Most of China's team are younger than 25. China relied on All England winner Xia Xuanze and Ji Xinpeng in the singles and Zhang Wei and Zhang Jun in the doubles.

In 2002, Indonesia is expected to be without senior shuttlers Rexy Mainaky, Ricky Subagja, Hariyanto Arbi and Antonius Budi Ariantho, who all plan to retire after the Olympic Games in Sydney in September.

PBSI must prepare Ronny Agustinus, Johan Hadikusuma, Arief Rosidi and Vidre Wibowo in the singles and Flandy Limpele, Eng Hian, Halim Heryanto and twins Denny Setiawan and Donny Prasetyo to reach their top form to win the cup a fifth consecutive time.

Siregar said PBSI plans to recruit 16-year-old girls and 17- year-old boys in singles to be groomed soon to replace their elders.

"We can't just depend on the results of national junior tournaments. PBSI officials in charge of talent scouting must open their eyes to be able to recruit the right potential players.

"We have signed an agreement with the government of Germany to help us decide the parameters in selecting the right players. The parameters will include the criteria of potential shuttlers on the basis of their posture, mental and technical skills.

"I have also talked to National Sports Council (KONI) psychologists to discuss the possibility of testing the juniors' psychological condition before we decide to admit them. It's really important to see how they will be able to manage all barriers during their career."

PBSI will only have 52 shuttlers in its National Badminton Center in Cipayung, East Jakarta, compared to 65 at present.

PBSI has staged an internal promotion-and-relegation selection to weed out shuttlers with little potential, who would be returned to their clubs, and to admit younger ones in the center.

Siregar admitted PBSI's problems in realizing its nationwide branches' vision on the recruitment system because they all wanted the association to recruit winners from the national tournaments. However, some of the players were considered too old to benefit from being placed in the center. (yan)