Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Badminton training for my little dynamo

So far, 2009 has started well for Andre. After the initial disappointment on learning that his school badminton team was to be scrapped following budget re-allocation, we signed him up at a badminton academy as advised by his coach. Initially, training was quite senang as he was placed in a beginner's class and he rather enjoyed being one of the better ones, as was the case when he was training in school.

Then a couple of weeks ago, he was moved to an intermediate class and his ego was quickly deflated. That first week, there were only two other boys in that group, both his age. One has been training three times a week for the past two years, the other is occasionally brought to Malaysia by his father for training. These kids are serious man, I tell you! And the coach for this group was from China, get this - a former Thomas Cup champion. Wah, colour me intimidated. Just looking at him with his unsmiling demeanour and crew cut, I could imagine him demolishing his opponents one by one on the court.

But the difference in training was so obvious. By playing with (and losing to) better opponents, Andre's game quickly moved up a notch. And he learned that others are not playing to maintain a rally, they are playing to win points, so he has developed a killer instinct, especially with his smash. Which is bad news for me because I can no longer play a singles game with him (not that I was very good to begin with lah).

Then last week, even better news: the school teacher in charge of badminton managed to push for the school team to continue, probably reinforced by the excellent performance of the p6 school team in a recent tournament. So the school team and the coach are reinstated, at least for now. God has answered our prayers!

I brought Andre for the school trials and of course the coach already knew him from last year. He cuts such a funny figure on the court because he's so pint-sized, he's almost always the smallest one around. The school teacher doing the trials was Lesley-Anne's Chinese teacher in p3 so I went over to say hello. She asked me which boy Andre was (there were 20 kids at the court) and the coach piped up, "那小小只那个!" ("That small one!") The teacher then told me, "oh, that one cannot change CCA ok?"

I took it to mean that Andre shows promise and was very encouraged. Later, the coach also told me that Andre was pretty good and she could tell that his strokes, especially the high balls, were solid from the way they sounded. Here's a video clip of Andre practising his high balls with Kenneth.



I know I'm starting to sound like one of those boring mums who drone on and on about how good their kids are. Please indulge me a little, it's not often I get to say Andre is good at something! Badminton started out as a simple pasttime and it became something he has grown to be passionate about. I've been increasingly convinced that kids should pursue something they're really keen on (life is not just about school) and we're fortunate that he has identified his interest early, so we can nurture it. Especially since he has till now, lived in the shadow of his sister's academic achievements, this is something he can claim for himself.

I don't have any grand illusions about his sporting future - it's way too early to make any predictions and the fastest way to kill an interest is by being overly ambitious. Anyway, if you see some of the other kids at the academy, you will easily find many who are more skilled than him. His net skills especially, need lots of work. Plus he'll always have that height disadvantage, thanks to his two vertically-challenged parents.

But if he continues to enjoy the sport and can even make the school team, that would be a great boost to his self-esteem and identity. Added to that, it's healthy, it's wholesome and it builds all kinds of good values like sportsmanship and diligence, so there's no real downside (besides the time investment).

And here's a short clip of my little katek ayam having a game with his dad.

7 comments:

Lilian said...

Omigosh, he looks so cute in the 2nd video, tiny little fella but packs a punch!! His strokes look so professional. WELL DONE ANDRE!! Btw, I hear all that stretching from playing badminton can make you grow really tall! Before you know it, you'll be playing basketball and slam-dunking eh? :)

monlim said...

Slam-dunking?? Not unless they lower the basket by one foot :D

But yah, hopefully all that stretching can add to his height!

eunice said...

Well done Andre! I always believe that as long as they are intersted in a game, go for it. They don't have to be super good at it, sometimes it's the passion for what you do that counts. Looks like Andre has it and who knows....

Alcovelet said...

My gawd! I was so mesmerized by that pak, pak, to-ing and fro-ing of the shuttle - I think it could have gone on for an hour and I wouldn't have noticed! This boy is good! He's got this whole arm, easy power strokes that are just so natural. I'm glad you found a way for him to continue with the sport!

Really hah, this stretching from badminton? You know I have another, um, vertically challenged at home ...

monlim said...

Eunice: I'm with you! It's the passion that counts, though if you agree with Gladwell's 10,000 hr theory, if you put in that amount of time, you'll be good at anything. Let's see if Andre can keep up that dedication...

Ad: I can't tell you how happy I was (and him!) when we found out the school team would be reinstated. Yes, can learn at academy but nothing like being able to play for your school and with your friends - that's extra motivation.

Yes, yes try with your little one! Good for coordination too and the height might be a bonus :D

elan said...

Wow! He's good. You're right Mon, this is something he can shine at.

bACk in GERMANY said...

Wow.... no wonder his strokes are so powerful... it's a natural follow through! That's why it looks easy peasy when he plays.
Brilliant Andre! You really got the "say" / style of a champion. Go for gold for your school!

Actually, your daddy is pretty good too, eh?

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