The SS Purple League (SSPL) 2016/17 is poised to erupt now that top players from home and abroad will be doing battle with each other. With the presence of these big names it will surely boost the quality and image of this league.
Despite being only in its third edition, SSPL 2016/17 has attracted star players from 13 countries which underlines the league’s status. Among the foreign players who have signed up are Olympic champions Markis Kido of Indonesia, Korean international Lee Hyo Jung and China's Zhao Yunlei.
Zhao, together with World No 1 Datuk Wira Lee Chong Wei and Goh V Shem, will represent Petaling BC. Goh Liu Ying, one-half of Malaysia’s Olympic silver medallists in the mixed doubles, and Taiwan international Chou Tien Chen will turn out for Puchong United BC, while Tan Boon Heong, Chan Peng Soon and Zulfadli Zukifli will display their talent for Johor side, Muar BC. Just the mention on these star names, especially Chong Wei, is enough to whet the fans' appetite.
The other big names coming are Indonesia's Hendra Gunawan (Kepong BC), Markis and Tan Wee Kiong (BU Dragons BC) and Sony Dwi Kuncoro (Petaling Jaya BC) also of Indonesia.
This will be the perfect platform for our local players, especially the up-and-coming ones with potential, to gain experience on the international stage.
With the keen rivalry between Malaysia's seasoned players and foreign stars, the SSPL will be a great opportunity for players to show their consistency, but more importantly, improve on their game. The fans get the rare chance of catching their favourite players - national or foreign - up close.
Most encouraging though is the fact that SSPL has received the thumbs up from former Olympian Poul-Erik Hoyer Larsen, who is currently President of the Badminton World Federation (BWF) and a Council Member of the International Olympic Committee.
“I believe SSPL is a great platform for the development of badminton in Malaysia especially as it helps to build the confidence of the Malaysian players featuring in international tournaments and then capturing world titles,” Larsen said, who won the 1996 Atlanta Olympics singles gold medal.
Larsen added that the BWF is determined to get more fans to continue supporting badminton globally and believes that this is being accomplished through the SSPL which is the first professional badminton league in Malaysia.
Meanwhile, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Malaysia Purple League, Dato’ Jack Koh is optimistic of achieving his objective in bridging the gap between players and fans, regardless whether from within the country or from abroad.
“There will be a number of well-known players competing in SSPL which means competition will be tight. We hope more Malaysians will be part of this globally popular sport. Malaysian fans should be proud as our players have achieved much on badminton's world stage,” he said.
SS Purple League (SSPL) 2016/17 main sponsors Samsung and Senheng Electric are looking to play more important roles in promoting and supporting badminton in Malaysia.
“We believe in Purple League’s initiative to take badminton in Malaysia to a higher level. Therefore, we would love to be a part of this initiative as we want to ensure Samsung is involved in this professional league as we both are on a similar mission,” said Lee Sang Hoon, President of Samsung Electronics Malaysia.
Lim Kim Heng, Managing Director of Senheng Electrics (KL) Sdn Bhd, said that the company's focus is not solely on electronic equipment but also to increase the quality of people's lives through sports.
“Together with Malaysia Purple League, we would like to play our part in helping Malaysians to stay healthy in mind and body through sports,” added Kim Heng.
The SSPL 2016/17 involves 10 teams - Ampang Jaya BC, Bangsar Hawks BC, BU Dragons BC, Kepong BC, Klang City BC, Muar BC, Petaling BC, Petaling Jaya BC, Puchong United BC and Serdang BC – and kicks off towards the later part of the year.
Serdang BC, who will be parading national junior players Lee Zii Jia, Soh Wooi Yik, Ooi Zi Heng and Sim Fong Hau, who all represented Malaysia in the recently concluded BWF World Junior Championship in Bilbao, Spain earlier this month, will be looking to their youngsters for the main prize.
The world's top junior player Goh Jin Wei will be representing BU Dragons BC. Leong Jun Hao, Thinaah Muralitharan, Kisona Selvaduray (Klang City BC) and Chen Tang Jie (Petaling BC) have stepped up from the Junior Purple League to compete with badminton's elite.
The SSPL will feature an array of the world's top players and fans will not have to travel far to catch the action.
The preliminary round-robin stage will be played at the Gem In Mall (Cyber 11 in Cyberjaya) and KLBA Stadium in Cheras while the knockout round will be held in Genting Highlands