Badminton federation seeks rising stars

The Lao Badminton Federation is working hard to raise the standard of its players to international level before they compete in next year's South East Asian (SEA) Games, on home soil.

Although the team returned home empty-handed from the 2007 SEA Games in Thailand last month, the federation hopes to celebrate a medal at the 25 th SEA Games, to be held in 2009 in Laos .

Federation official Somsaveng Sengsilavong told Vientiane Times yesterday “The standard of our players is very poor compared to other countries in Southeast Asia , so we still have a lot of work to do.”

“I think we stand little chance of winning a gold or silver medal at the 2009 SEA Games, even though we'll be playing at home, because players from countries such as Indonesia , Malaysia and Thailand top the world rankings,” Mr Somsaveng said.

“But we're not completely despondent and feel we might get a bronze medal, because the host nation has the right to set the rules of competition. We're now talking with SEA Games council members about the rules concerning the inclusion of professional players.”

“Many members have said they want only amateur players to take part. This would improve the situation for us and other countries that don't have professional players,” he added.

He also said the federation was planning to organise several activities to improve the skills of its players, focussing in particular on two major tournaments.

The first will be the National Championships from January 25-27 in Vientiane . The tournament will comprise 12 events in three categories of competition: male and female single, and doubles for players in the under-14, -16 and -19 age groups.

The National Open will take place in April and invites all the best players in the country to compete, as well as those from overseas.

The federation will use both tournaments to select the best players to enter the national training camp, to prepare for the SEA Games.

Concerning a coach, Mr Somsaveng said the federation would ask the Badminton Asia Confederation to provide the best trainer it could.

According to the Badminton Asia Confederation's official website, it is the governing body of badminton in Asia . Today, it boasts a membership of 39 countries, including Laos , and aims to remain the benchmark for world badminton for many years to come.

By Sisay Vilaysack

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