KUALA LUMPUR: Speculation is rife that China’s Li Mao and Wong Tat Meng may make a return to the national badminton team as coaches.
Li Mao had coached the men’s singles department for more than two years from 2005 to 2007 before leaving the national team in a huff to take up an offer in Indonesia. Tat Meng joined him when he too was offered a lucrative deal.
There is no doubt that Li Mao played a significant role in improving Lee Chong Wei’s game during his tenure but the coach left on a sour note, citing his unhappiness with the management for not giving him the full power to manage the players.
If the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) are actually thinking about re-hiring him, they had better remember that this was the man who did not even have the courtesy to hand over his job responsibilities in a proper manner before walking out on them.
If BAM are seriously considering Li Mao as an option, then they must be willing to give the man full authority to run the programme or they may risk losing him the same way again.
Tat Meng had played different roles with the national team over his eight-year stint before joining Li Mao in Indonesia in February last year.
The highlight of Tat Meng’s coaching career in Malaysia was being given the mandate to head the singles department when Li Mao left.
However, he was just two weeks into the new role when two of his singles players – Chong Wei and Kuan Beng Hong – joined Misbun Sidek for training.
Tat Meng then concentrated solely on coaching the women’s singles shuttlers and, under his tutelage, Wong Mew Choo did the country proud by winning the China Open in 2007 when she defeated all of China’s top players.
Tat Meng, however, was sent back to the Bukit Jalil Sports School (BJSS) in 2008 for two years.
In 2010, he was back in BAM’s elite programme and named as the women’s singles coach in September. Less than five months later, he signed up for the lucrative job in Indonesia – after revealing great plans to revive the Malaysian women’s singles department.
If Tat Meng is one of BAM’s coaching candidates under their new talked-about structure, the association should ensure that he does not walk out on them again.
The experience he has gained from coaching in Indonesia will surely be valuable if he is engaged on a long-term basis.
The BAM have set a precedent in re-hiring coaches.
Tan Kim Her was taken back into the national fold after he had coached in South Korea and England and is now a valuable asset to the national coaching set-up as the men’s doubles chief coach.