Seven nations from South East Asia will compete in the Lao Future Series Badminton Championships to be held at the National University of Laos in Vientiane from April 23 to 27.

Eighty-seven players will compete for the men's and women's singles, men's and women's doubles and mixed doubles titles.

Most countries are sending junior players to the championships to give them experience at the international level. Representing the host nation, the Lao Badminton Federation can enter 31 players in the championships: 10 women and 21 men.

Twenty-two players from Vietnam , 13 players from Indonesia , 10 players from Cambodia , four players from Malaysia and one player from Thailand will attend the event in Vientiane .

Lao National Sports Committee Vice President Somphou Phongsa, Lao Badminton Federation President Santiphab Phomvihane and Dao-Heuang Group General Manager Sisouphonh Sihalath attended a press conference last Thursday to announce the Lao badminton team and the start of improvements to the indoor badminton court at the university.

The federation will begin repairs to the court after the Pi Mai Lao (Lao New Year) holiday. Air conditioning, lighting and a plastic playing surface imported from China will be installed.

Primary sponsors of the event, the Dao-Heuang Group, have provided more than 300 million kip in funding. “The Vietnamese government is also providing support for the competition,” Mr Santiphab said.

“The championships will be a good test of our refereeing skills and our players will also gain experience at the international level to help them in their preparations for the 25 th SEA Games, to be held in Vientiane next year.”

“We hope our home ground advantage can help us win some medals,” he added.

A Malaysian trainer, Mr Poh Yong Siang, has been coaching the Lao national badminton team since January.

“The experience we gain from organising these championships will help us ensure the SEA Games will be a success when we host them next year,” said Mr Somphou.

The Asian Badminton Confederation has provided more than 54 million kip (US$6,000) to finance the competition. Fourteen professional personnel from the confederation will help 20 Lao staff to referee the event.

By Sangkhomsay Bubphanouvong

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