With more international tournaments getting postponed of cancelled due to the pandemic, independent shuttlers in the country are facing one of their biggest tests to keep playing the game for a living.
The Badminton World Federation (BWF) just announced the cancellation of the Taipei Open, which came swiftly after the Korea and Macau Open were also cancelled.
While shuttlers under the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) banner did not have to worry about funding as they receive a monthly allowance from the association, independent shuttlers were left to source finances on their own.
Goh V Shem recently told Stadium Astro he needed to secure both a main sponsor, and an equipment sponsor to continue his journey as a professional shuttler with new partner Low Juan Shen.
He was hoping to secure at least one sponsor before the Taipei Open, but the cancellation could mean that plan might be delayed.
For others, it would mean having to justify to their existing sponsors on their contract renewals with lesser tournaments on the BWF World Tour.
For mixed doubles pair Goh Soon Huat-Shevon Lai, the long-term impact of their future was thrown further into question.
“It is not easy. With each passing day, our worries grow more and more. We want to continue playing and representing Malaysia, but if this lockdown prolongs, it becomes more difficult.
“As professionals, we have to be prudent with our finances, as everything is on us. We also want to play in the World Championships and represent the country at major events, but how are we going to do that if we can’t improve our ranking?
“When we don’t go out, sponsorship will surely be affected,” Lai told the New Straits Times.
Soniia Cheah, who also became an independent shuttler this year, admitted the journey would be a challenge.
“It has been really tough for independent players, and I’m one of them too. I turned to play independently since March. Although it has not been that long, but to me it feels like it has been years as things were pretty rough for me.
“Fortunately I met my saviours which are Top Glove and redONE. I will not be able to continue my passion without their support, and I want to thank them for it,” she said.
The next event on the calendar is the Sudirman Cup Finals, scheduled to take place from Sept 26-Oct 3 at the city of Vantaa in Finland.