Former athletes continue giving back to the sport with proper support
Ben Heng (right) is now a coach with the Malaysian Tenpin Bowling Congress.
SINGAPORE: More and more former athletes are slowly getting the hang of a different role in sport – either as coaches, managers or team officials.
Just take a look at the Singapore SEA Games.
Former badminton star Taufik Hidayat is the chef de mission for the Indonesia contingent. He is the first person who is not from the military to be appointed to the role.
As for Malaysia, some of the athletes now serving as coaches are former Commonwealth Games badminton gold medallist Chin Eei Hui, former World Track Cycling Championships bronze medallist Rizal Tisin, former SEA Games equestrian gold medallist Syed Omar Almohdzar, former world wushu champion Lim Yew Fai, 1998 Commmonwealth Games bowling gold medallist Ben Heng and SEA Games women’s basketball gold medallist Yoong Sze Yuin.
That’s not all. Former swimmer May Tan, the 1989 SEA Games gold medallist, is in charge of the swimming squad here. Olympian Mirnawan Nawawi is the team manager for the hockey team while Si Yew Ming is the team manager for tennis.
Ben, who bagged the singles and doubles gold medals when Malaysia last hosted the SEA Games in 2001, explained that this is because there’s now better support from the National Sports Council (NSC) through their coaching programme, which provides players with the opportunity to make the transition to become coaches.
“Athletes used to wonder what they would do after retirement. Now, they can be a coach or even a sports administrator,” said Ben, who was part of the trios gold medal winning team at the 2006 Asian Games in Doha.
“There is a qualification process that we all have to go through to become a coach. Our experience makes the transformation easier and faster.”