Two key coaches in the Singapore Badminton Association's (SBA) national set-up have quit with just a month to go before the SEA Games, although both will leave only after the Aug 19-30 event.
The Straits Times understands that national chief coach Chua Yong Joo tendered his resignation last week, while shutter-turned-coach Fu Mingtian indicated her desire to leave at the end of last month.
Both coaches will serve their notice periods until the end of September and will still travel to Kuala Lumpur with the SEA Games squad.
Chua, 38, told ST yesterday that a desire to spend more time with his two young children was the main motivation behind leaving an organisation he has devoted 17 years to.
The job entails travelling 10 to 12 times on average a year, something that is now increasingly difficult, especially when his eight-year-old son is often left in tears.
Said Chua, who was the first local-born official to be appointed to the position in July 2015: "This job takes me away from my family quite often, and I want to spend more time with my children as they grow up.
"Of course, travelling is part of the job but I've come to a stage where I have to consider my family as well."
Of course, travelling is part of the job but I've come to a stage where I have to consider my family as well.
CHUA YONG JOO, explaining the reason behind his departure.
He is married to two-time Olympian Jiang Yanmei , now SBA's technical manager and principal of its badminton academy. Chua said he would be based in Singapore and hopes to continue to contribute to local sport.
Assistant national singles coach Fu, 27, is returning to China to get married. The Hubei native and 2011 SEA Games champion - the Republic's only women's singles champion at the biennial Games so far - is engaged to a former Chinese shuttler who played for the Xiamen team.
While Fu - she arrived in Singapore in 2004 and attained citizenship in 2007 - will settle in Xuzhou city in Jiangsu province where her fiance is from, she said she has roots in Singapore.
"I've formed a lot of close friendships here over the years," said Fu, who now owns an apartment here. "I will definitely be coming back very often. Singapore will always have a place in my heart."
The departure of two coaches at this juncture may seem untimely, with the SEA Games looming, but SBA secretary general Michael Foo does not expect the resignations to disrupt the team's preparations too much.
He said: "Preparing players for major Games started a long time ago. Even now, we've already started thinking ahead to next year's Commonwealth Games."
Foo reserved special thanks to Chua for his dedication to the SBA.
He said: "Yong Joo has grown from a player and progressed all the way to being chief coach. It takes great love for the game and passion to really want to do it, and this is a job that's very pressurising too."
The hunt for a new chief coach will begin immediately, but Foo emphasised that even with the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games coming up next year, someone new will be appointed only if he or she is deemed capable and suitable for the role.
Excluding Chua and Fu, the SBA still has a team of five coaches, with Ding Chao taking charge of the singles team and Nunung Wibyanto leading the doubles players.
Added Foo: "Of course, there is a little bit of urgency but this is a very important role. A chief coach is responsible not only for high performance but also for building our pipeline.
"So we'll take time to explore all possibilities and if the need arises, we will also look overseas for this position."
Chua said helping to build a steady pipeline of shuttlers born and bred locally - including world junior No. 1 Yeo Jia Min - is one of his proudest achievements as chief coach.
He said: "There's been a lot of discussion, with senior players retiring, but I think we do have quite a good core group of players coming up. Just give them a bit of time, and they'll definitely be able to fill the shoes of their seniors and even surpass them.
"I would like to thank the SBA for the opportunities for the last 17 years. It has been a privilege and honour to work with the association for so long."