As much as the future belongs to you and you alone, people always want to weigh in on it. That certainly seems to be the case for national player Lee Zii Jia (李梓嘉).
Zii Jia shocked the network yesterday (19th January) when it was announced he has officially left the Badminton Association of Malaysia. Although it was briefly mentioned why he did so, fans have still been unhappy with his decision.
According to BAM’s president Norza Zakaria, the world No.7 player hopes to achieve his dreams at his own pace. She added that Zii Jia hadn’t been able to take the pressure which led to his resignation on 11th January. Norza also revealed that BAM had attempted to ask Zii Jia to retract his resignation several times. However, his mind was made up.
Zii Jia himself did a press conference with Astro Arena to further explain his decision to go professional. “As a player, all I want is (to train) and perform, and produce good results for Malaysia, that’s all I want,” he stated. To Zii Jia, there is no difference between being a national player or a professional player. “We are all carrying the flag of Malaysia,” he said firmly.
The matter wasn’t decided on his own. Zii Jia added he had sought advice from Dato Lee Chong Wei as well. In another interview, Dato Lee shared he felt Zii Jia’s performance was more important than whether he was attached to BAM or not. This certainly lines up with Zii Jia’s 2022 goals. “This year, I want to stabilise my performance, that’s my main target, and break into (the world’s) top 5 (rankings),” he told Astro Arena.
However, many fans are still upset with Zii Jia’s decision and recent rumours haven’t been helping matters. A source recently claimed that Zii Jia will be joining the Kuala Lumpur Racket Club (KLRC) for a seven figure amount. The source alleged that the million-ringgit contract will be for two to three years.
“It’s disappointing if this news is true because BAM has done everything for Zii Jia,” the source was quoted as saying. They added Zii Jia should have discussed a solution with BAM if he was leaving for monetary reasons. Furthermore, the source questioned BAM’s role in its players leaving. Late last year, former national player Goh Jin Wei announced her return to the court, but rejected BAM’s offer to return under them.
Zii Jia himself has predicted his naysayers and spoken about it in his interview. “I can’t stop people from supporting or not supporting me,” he admitted. Yet, he’s determined to press forward on his chosen path. Regardless of whether they will continue supporting him or not, Zii Jia promises to “just be (himself)“.
However, he hasn’t lost all support. World No. 1, Viktor Axelsen has spoken up in defence of Zii Jia. “If a player (in this case LZJ), feels it’s best for him to follow another path where he is more independent as a player, then that is what he should do (in my opinion),” Viktor stated on his socials. “It’s his career and his life after all.”
The Danish shuttler added he was confident in Zii Jia doing whatever he can to produce good results. “(Zii Jia will) continue to do his best to make Malaysians, and everyone who supports him proud,” Viktor wrote. “Only he himself knows what’s best right now and I’m looking forward to hopefully having many exciting encounters against (Zii Jia) on court in the future.”
It’s certainly a rocky start to Zii Jia’s career as a professional player. However, he has the support of his friends (and rivals). We’re sure he will continue training and make Malaysia proud. All the best Zii Jia! We look forward on your new journey.
Check out Zii Jia and Dato Lee Chong Wei’s interviews here:
Lee Zii Jia tetap bawa nama MALAYSIA di pentas antarabangsa 🇲🇾 🇲🇾 🇲🇾 pic.twitter.com/QcP4t58d3F
— ASTRO ARENA (@ASTROARENA) January 19, 2022