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Friday, December 28, 2007

Why China never does well in South East Asia?

Why is South East Asia China's blind spot?
An examination and analysis in consultation with several retired national players.

No doubt China has been always been a strong badminton force ever since the turn of the century. However, if there is one place where China claims the least titles, it is the South East Asian region. Indonesia has long held the honor of denying China many titles, being an Indonesian stronghold, while Malaysia holds many bad memories for Chinese players. Singapore on the other hand, yields better performances from the Chinese team, but in comparison to other tournaments, is still significantly lower. Why is it that China cannot perform in South East Asia?

When this question was posed to an retired National player, he jokingly remarked that it was the food. Oh, he adds, and the water too. Although all this was said in jest, this might hold a bit of sense. Perhaps its the food and the water that Chinese players are not used to. One Chinese player even brought bottled water and Chinese local food to Malaysia when participating in Malaysian tournaments. However, after asking several other retired players, some of them that used to play for China, this theory was dismissed by all of them. Oh well... It was a nice try.

"Perhaps it is the crowd support?" - suggested someone. Yes. That must be it. Indonesian crowds, with their chants of "Ganyang Malaysia" and other furious chants, have always instilled fears in the heart of players and foreign supporters alike. On the other hand, the Malaysian supporters, not to be outdone, are equally boisterous and rowdy. In fact, the noisiest badminton encounters are usually the Thomas Cup finals encounters between Indonesia and Malaysia. The banging of the kompangs and the drums could very well be the reason why Chinese players get intimidated. It is often said that foreign players are not only against the other player facing them at the other side of the court, but are also against the crowd that would boo, cheer and chant their hearts out.. Perhaps?

Another theory is because Malaysian and Indonesian players perform better in their home ground. This must surely be true for Malaysia - this is where the phrase Jaguh Kampung comes from. Indonesian players are equally guilty of this: they seem to be able to sweep all 5 titles in their home ground, while not being able to do so outside Indonesia. Surely, this must be a contributing factor.

I believe it is a combination of these factors that result in South East Asia being the blind spot for China. What do you think?

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