DANISH badminton legend Morten Frost Hansen admits that the gap in standard between Asian and Western countries at the junior badminton level is still huge.
None of the European countries made it to the last eight of the ongoing World Junior Badminton Championships’ team event.
Denmark (Group X) and England (Group Y) came closest to breaking the Asian stronghold but missed out on the chance to vie for a semi-final spot after going down by 2-3 scorelines to Hong Kong and Taiwan respectively on Friday.
“This phenomenon is nothing new. Asian teams have been dominating the junior badminton scene in recent years,” Frost said after watching Denmark overcome Vietnam 3-1 yesterday to qualify for the 9th-12th placing playoffs.
“The gap remains huge ... and there is nothing we can do to bridge it except work harder to improve next year. But the fact that Denmark and England were in contention to progress further before narrowly missing out shows that Europe is still able to take the fight to the others.” Frost, who is in Alor Setar as coach of the Danish junior team, believes that Western countries’ emphasis on education is the root cause of the disparity in standards.
“Most of the junior players from Europe in this age group (17-19) will be busy with their studies in college or university and cannot afford to allocate more time to badminton. There is a different set-up in Asia, where junior players can concentrate more on improving their game,” said Frost.
Besides Denmark and England, the other European countries in the world juniors team event are Germany, France and Russia.