IN a move that is sure to attract criticism, especially as the national elite back-up and back-up players are not exactly setting the world alight, the BA of Malaysia has no plans to include professionals in the Laos Sea Games squad.
While stressing that this is not a permanent decision, BAM general manager Kenny Goh said the move is because players in its stable are currently performing better.
That, however, is open to argument especially as some -- singles player Wong Choong Hann a prime example -- have performed better than the likes of Hafiz Hashim and Kuan Beng Hong of late.
"BAM is not shutting its doors on players not attached to the national team but the coaches have decided that the entire squad for the Laos Games will be made up of national team members," said Kenny yesterday.
"We have faith in the national players and they have been performing better than former national players who are still active in competitions.
"Furthermore, we have at least two strong entries from the national team for every event and with development in mind, we would rather give the reserve slots to our back-up players."
Choong Hann, having finished runner-up in the Macau and Taiwan Opens last month, is the only player who can stake a claim but Hafiz's semi-final appearance in Taiwan may be enough to convince BAM that he is on the rise again.
While the professionals are not likely to complain if they are left out of the Laos squad -- especially as prize money will not be at stake -- they are bound to be disturbed if this becomes a permanent move.
With 2010 a bumper year for badminton with the Thomas Cup, World Championships, Commonwealth Games and Asian Games to aim for, the professionals will be looking to impress to keep their sponsors happy.
That, with BAM making a distinct policy shift, can only happen if they do better than the national players.