HAVING taken charge of the BA of Malaysia, president Datuk Seri Norza Zakaria is determined to leave a legacy. He shares his thoughts with Timesport’s.
Question: Datuk Seri, you have been the BA of Malaysia (BAM) president for about 20 over days now. What are some of the new plans you intend to implement?
Answer: Since assuming the post of BAM president, I have laid out some big plans for the next five years. One of the main things I have done so far is meet our stakeholders — especially our sponsors — to explain to them in detail the plans.
I will have to set out a new culture for our administrative and technical department and also the council.
We cannot be only management driven but committee driven as well. I have spoken to most of the committee heads, and they are expected to brief those under them as I expect to see their plans when I call for the first council meeting in the next couple of months.
I have also met most of the elite players to understand in depth the issues they face, because I don’t want a superficial relationship.
After meeting them, I understand that a lot of the issues affecting them are within our control. For example they are sometimes unhappy with their equipment and logistic matters. It may seem small to us but it affects them.
As I have said before, we need to reduce the process losses. In addition, I have spoken to Morten Frost (BAM technical director) to see what is the plan moving forward and have discussed with Lee Chong Wei about the singles department because I still consider that the most critical department and will make the necessary changes after the Sudirman Cup.
Q: We have not won the Thomas Cup since 1992, the Sudirman Cup, the World Championships and the elusive Olympic gold medal. Do you see this drought ending under your reign?
A: One thing I can say is I have been the coaching and training (C&T) committee chairman for four years now.
I believe I have the inside knowledge to our strengths and our weaknesses. That experience alone has equipped me as BAM president.
Now if you look at history, Tan Sri Elyas Omar became BAM president in 1985 and then won the Thomas Cup in 1992.
We are a little more lucky these days as I am now harvesting the fruits of my labour.
We already have an academy and the other departments under the national body are doing well and I can now zoom in on the men’s singles. However, having said that, I must stress that I don’t have a magic wand. I cannot do much until I have increased the talent pool.
That is why we will have three leagues that must be handled by the state BAs — the senior, professional and amateur leagues. I have also told David Wee (Negri Sembilan BA president and BAM development chairman) to strengthen our development programmes.
Q: As of now, you are still the C&T chairman. Do you see yourself as a president who is likely to be more involved, even in technical matters?
A: Previously I was National Sports Institute (NSI) chairman, Kuala Lumpur BA president, and chairman of a few government linked companies (GLCs) but I have relinquished all that so I can give my full commitment to BAM.
I want to be a president who will not only be there for medal presentations. People say I am a new kid on the block but I will work hard until we have achieved a certain Key Performance Index (KPI).
Q: Former general manager Lawrence Chew left BAM after serving for a very short period. Talks are that there was some tension when you took over as president. Can you clarify this?
A: I need to strengthen my management and along the way, Lawrence resigned. Perhaps he has a better offer. We have started advertising for a new general manager and also a head for the academy.
Our target is to get everything up and running by January. Lawrence made the decision that he wanted to move on.
As far as relationship is concerned, there was no issue. In fact I was the guy who brought him in. Badminton is a sport where the circle is small and everyone knows one another. We don’t want to create issues.
Q: What are your goals for the association?
A: One of my main goals is to bring about a high performance culture. This has been my plan since I was the NSI chairman.
I want to produce athletes who are physically and mentally strong. They must have the perfect package.
I want to leave an institution that will continuously produce world class players regardless of who the president is.
I am even considering ISO certification for our organisation. If you look at the NSI services, they are currently only accessible to the National Podium and Kita Juara athletes. What happens after that?
How am I to ensure that the juniors who are moving to the Academy Badminton Malaysia (ABM) have access to proper sport science facilities?
That is why we are now in the process of signing an MoU with Universiti Malaysia, because they have all the facilities and they are also near to us.
We are also in talks with the Education Ministry about coming up with proper modules for our athletes who will be coming to stay at the academy.
Q: Finally, the Sudirman Cup is your first tournament as BAM president. How do you rate our chances?
A: We have a strong team who are highly motivated to do well. BAM’s target is to at least reach the semi-finals but we must first get past the group stage convincingly.
I believe we can do it but our match against Japan will be the toughest. It is going to be a 50-50 match but if we put our hearts and mind to it, we can come out tops.