Badminton: Third badminton coach leaves

National singles coach Ding Chao has not renewed his SBA contract and will coach independently after his departure.
National singles coach Ding Chao has not renewed his SBA contract and will coach independently after his departure.ST PHOTO: DAVE LIM

National body to assess structure of set-up but says players will not suffer from the departures

National singles coach Ding Chao is set to leave the Singapore Badminton Association (SBA) at the end of the month, the third person to exit from its set-up within the same month.

The Straits Times understands Ding, 35, chose not to renew his contract, which expires this month, and plans to coach independently here.

He said yesterday: "I've been at the SBA for 12 years and issues like the stress of competitions, as well as the various challenges in coaching and managing players, have given me a lot of pressure all these years.

"I plan to take a short break, but am very thankful to the SBA for all these years of grooming and trust. I wish the SBA all the best and hope that my players will be able to fulfil their dreams."

Two other core members of the coaching team - national chief coach Chua Yong Joo and assistant national singles coach Fu Mingtian - left the SBA earlier this month after serving their respective notice periods.

Fu has returned to China to get married while Chua, who cited a desire to spend more time with his two young children, has yet to make his plans known.

SBA secretary-general Michael Foo said the association's leadership is meeting this week to discuss its next course of action. It has received expressions of interest from both local and foreign candidates and the deadline for applications is now closed.

He did not rule out a change in the coaching structure and noted the SBA has yet to decide if they will fill all three vacant coaching slots.

He said: "Most importantly, we have to look at our players - what is suitable for them. All our players are currently quite young (with an average age of 20), so we are exploring whether we need a technical director more than a singles coach.

"The discussion this week will be quite crucial. We need to know what is the structure we want."

The 26-strong national team are now helmed by former national shuttler Kelvin Ho (singles) and Nunung Wibyanto (doubles).

Foo added that he hopes a decision can be made within the next month, but emphasised that the national players have not been neglected in the meantime.

Besides Ho and Nunung, there are also assistant national doubles coach Pribadi Setia Atmaja and national intermediate squad coach Liu Yi. Sparring partners such as Marcus Wijanu and Made Citra Darma Perdana from Indonesia also help to double up as coaches.

Said a member of the national team, who declined to be named: "It's not ideal if it's going to be long term, but there are still coaches around who have been helping us all along and they're familiar with what we need to do.

"Three coaches leaving the team at the same time has certainly affected the team quite a bit, since they're the ones who plan our training programme, our tournament schedule and look after our improvement.

"I hope the SBA can carefully assess (our needs), instead of just rushing to find a new coach. Hopefully they'll be able to find suitable and committed coaches who are willing to help the players and bring the team to a higher level.

"Coaching a team with players who have other commitments like school and national service is not an easy task."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 26, 2017, with the headline 'Third badminton coach leaves'. Print Edition | Subscribe