KUALA LUMPUR: Finally, Malaysia too will have our own multi-million badminton league but it will be run by a club - the Looi Badminton Academy.
On Monday, the club’s managing director Jack Koh said that they will introduce a RM5mil Malaysia Purple League next year to provide a platform for both local and foreign players to strut their stuff to make it one of the most lucrative badminton leagues in the world.
With the endorsement and approval from Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin and the blessings of the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM), the league is good to proceed as planned.
China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Germany and Denmark have their own leagues with India offering the biggest prize money - a total of US$1mil (RM3.2mil). These leagues are heavily supported and run by their respective national associations.
When asked about the name Purple League, Jack explained: “We wanted to name it Premier but it would be associated with football. Purple has the distinction of being highly rated among all the colours. Besides, it is also a royal colour and it will be apt with our aim of making this league a highly-rated competition.”
Jack said that their format would be unique because it would cater to both juniors and professionals.
“The Malaysia Purple League will have two tiers. The Open caters for players above 19 years old and the other one will be for players below 19. We want our league to also focus on development,” said Jack.
“In fact, our club will fund the junior teams by giving them substantial money to compete in the league.
“In the Open category, we are targeting 18 teams. It will be based on a home and away format, which will be carried out throughout Malaysia. Teams are required to register under a name of a district in the country, For example, they can choose Batu Pahat Badminton Club.
“For a start though, the league is only open to men. A team will consist of three singles and two doubles (similar to the Thomas Cup Finals). We allow foreign participation but it should consist of only 20% of the team composition. If all works fine, we will open it up to women in the future.
“It will be shown live on television. We are planning to start the league after the World Championships (in Copenhagen) in August next year. We will provide more details on Oct 10.”
The former world junior men’s doubles runner-up said that the club decided to take the initiative to run the league for several reasons.
“As a badminton club, we have tried to register our players for the BAM’s National Circuit in the past but we failed. In order to play in the local circuit, the states require club players to train with them four times a week. This restriction and procedure did not work for us,” said Jack.
“Fortunately, Looi, the owner of our club, and several sponsors who are passionate about the sport want as many players as possible to get a chance to compete in high-level tournaments - thus the birth of the league.
“We have had many Asian and world junior champions in the country but their transition into back-up and senior players has been slow. Only a small group of players from the states make it to the Bukit Jalil Sports School or the national team. We hope this league will give more players the opportunity to showcase their talent and potential. It is the club’s way of playing their part in the development of the game.”