Badminton: Foreign-born trio are products of local system

(From left) Doubles badminton players Citra Putri Sari Dewi, Bimo Adi Prakoso and Jin Yujia all came to Singapore not via the Foreign Sports Talent scheme but to study first, before playing full-time.
(From left) Doubles badminton players Citra Putri Sari Dewi, Bimo Adi Prakoso and Jin Yujia all came to Singapore not via the Foreign Sports Talent scheme but to study first, before playing full-time.PHOTO COURTESY OF OUE SINGAPORE OPEN

They hail from China and Indonesia - countries that Singapore has traditionally mined many of its naturalised badminton players from.

But the next few foreign-born shuttlers set to don national colours for the Republic are undoubtedly "made in Singapore".

The Straits Times understands that the Singapore Badminton Association (SBA) has plans to secure citizenship for three of its doubles players - 20-year-olds Jin Yujia and Citra Putri Sari Dewi, as well as Bimo Adi Prakoso, 21.

The latter two attained permanent resident (PR) status last week, while Hangzhou-native Jin, who has been a Singapore PR for more than a year, could see her citizenship application set in motion later this year.

Rather than be seen as badminton "imports", the trio can be said to be products of the local system. They did not come to Singapore under the Foreign Sports Talent Scheme and have each spent close to a decade here attending local schools and training under the SBA.

Jin, for instance, arrived in 2008 in search of schooling options. She attended Yu Neng Primary School and completed her O Level examinations at Anglican High School, before joining the national team to play full-time.

  • DAY 2 SELECTED FIXTURES

    SCHEDULED START

    10.30am Tai Tzu-ying (Tpe) v Nitchaon Jindapol (Tha)

    11.15am Ratchanok Intanon (Tha) v Sayaka Sato (Jpn)

    12.00pm Yeo Jia Min (Sin) v Kim Hyo Min

    2.15pm Citra Putri Sari Dewi/Jin Yujia (Sin) v Lin Xiao-min/Wu Fang-chien (Tpe)

    3.00pm Terry Hee/Loh Kean Hean (Sin) v Lukhi Apri Nugroho/Tedi Supriadi (Ina)

    3.45pm Danny Bawa Chrisnanta/Hendra Wijaya (Sin) v Bodin Isara/Nipitphon Phuangphuapet (Tha)

    4.30pm P.V. Sindhu (Ind) v Nozomi Okuhara (Jpn)

    5.15pm Vincent Wong (Hkg) v Viktor Axelsen (Den)

    6.00pm Pornpawee Chochuwong (Tha) v Carolina Marin (Esp)

In fluent English - with a familiar Singaporean accent to boot - she said: " My original intention coming here was more to study, although I've already played badminton before, and continued to play after coming here."

With both parents badminton players - her mother Yang Nianhong was a national player for China in the early 1990s - the sport has always been in Jin's blood.

She teamed up with Prakoso yesterday in the mixed doubles qualifiers at the OUE Singapore Open, but fell short of a berth in the main draw after losing to Japan's Yugo Kobayashi and Misaki Matsutomo 21-17, 21-15.

Even for Citra, who hails from a badminton-playing family and with older siblings Hendri Kurniawan Saputra, Hendra Wijaya and Shinta Mulia Sari all becoming Singapore national players, studies was her primary concern - at first.

Said the former Paya Lebar Methodist Girls' School student, who has been in Singapore for eight years: "My route is different from my brothers and sister because I first came to study.

"My siblings have been here for a long time and I followed them here," added Citra, who lives with Hendra. "It's comfortable for me here and it feels like home."

She was in action in the mixed doubles qualifier too, partnering Jason Wong, but the duo were beaten by Indonesians Lukhi Apri Nugroho and Ririn Amelia 18-21, 21-14, 21-10. She will next team up with Jin in the first round of the women's doubles today.

Prakoso, meanwhile, travelled from Surabaya to Singapore in 2008 to join Montfort Secondary the following year, since his parents were unwilling for their youngest of three sons to completely neglect studies in favour of badminton.

All have since turned to playing full-time, and hope to participate in major Games as soon as possible.

Said Jin: "Without citizenship, we cannot play major Games for Singapore. This year's SEA Games is out but hopefully I can make it in time for next year's Commonwealth Games."

Add Prakoso, who hopes to turn out for his adopted country by 2019: "If I can get my citizenship right now and start playing for Singapore, I'd take it immediately."

SBA chief coach Chua Yong Joo is hopeful that their addition will help create a deeper pool of talent in the national set-up.

He said: "With them in the team, our players will get to train with more players of different styles. Hopefully, they will be able to win honours for the SBA and the country."

May Chen

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 12, 2017, with the headline 'Foreign-born trio are products of local system'. Print Edition | Subscribe