Datuk Punch Gunalan

Was a Malaysian badminton star, one of the finest combination doubles and singles players that the country has ever produced

Way back in 1972, a small group of badminton enthusiasts headed by the late Mr. A.V. Dhamodaran, the president of Kinta Indian Association then, formed a committee with the help of the sports secretary, Mr. R.G. Raj, Eddie Arul and D. Samuel. They started this championship on a small scale with 4 events - the men's Singles and Doubles and the Veterans’ Singles & Doubles. As time went by, more events were added; the additional events being, the Ladies ‘ Singles and Doubles and the Mixed Doubles But, for some reason or other, no tournaments were held in 1978 and 1979.

Then one fine day, Mr. R.G. Raj, a D.B.I. staff who was also a part time stringer with Straits Times approached me and persuaded me to take over and continue the championship as a sports event under the Perak Indian Sports Council whose President was Mr. S.Veerasingam. Datuk S. Veerasingam and his committee gave us all the support and encouragement to run the championship. With this assurance, we formed a committee headed by Dr. P. K. Padmanabhan as the chairman and started thinking big, that is to open up the championship for different age - groups for boys and girls. Eventually, it is this group of boys and girls who will represent the country one day, in major events; if given proper coaching and guidance and not the oldies who are past thier prime.

This championship will be the arena for the young ones to pit their skills, and as our championship was considered of a lower standard then the non - Indian championship, our boys and girls will bravely participate. Thus, the birth of the U-12, U-15 and U-18 boys' and girls' singles and doubles events in 1982. But the participation of girls was very poor inspite of sending notices to Headmasters / Headmistresses of Tamil schools and to the estates through the NUPW. However, the participation of boys increased, and it is from this group that in the later years we discovered K. Murali Desan who became the world Junior Singles Champion in1990, and together with D. Jivehinthran became the world Doubles Champion the same year in Birmingham, England. This was a feather in the cap for Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM), the Perak Badminton Association (PBA), and the Perak Indian Sports Council (PISC), under whose umbrella, the Perak Indian Badminton Championship was organised.

Subsequently, these two were drafted into the National back-up squad, but due to constant injuries, both dropped out of the squad. Due to their excellent achievement in Badminton, both were given scholarships to pursue tertiary education, Murali Desan to England and Jivehinthran to local University., The other player who was called to the BAM Academy was J. Devandran.

The most outstanding of all Indians in the state of Perak was A. Gopal Krishnan, who was drafted into the Thomas Cup training squad in 1975, but due to studies he had to leave the squad. During the championship in the 1990's there were discussions and suggestions as to the formation of an association like the Malay Badminton Association and the Chinese Badminton Association, so that we could be affiliated to the Perak Badminton Association (PBA), whose parent body is the Badminton Assocaiation of Malaysia (BAM). With the help of ASP Mr. V. Krishnan, Mr. K. Kanapathy, Mr. P. Samuel, Mr. R. Kuselan, Mr. J. Tana Rajan and Mr. G. Sahadevan, who was the Registrar of Society then, the Perak Indian Badminton Assocaition was formed in 1993, and in the same year Mr. V. Krishnan was elected President. Mr. V. Krishnan was the President until he was transfered to Sungei Petani in 2001. The Perak Indian Badminton Association has been organising this championship from 1994, and we are now at the 40th Championship (2017).

I hope from this and future championships, we would be able to discover at least one Indian player who will represent the country in the Thomas Cup. It is a tall order but not impossible. It is also note worthy to mention here that due to the constant involvement in badminton, a few have been elected into the executive council of the Perak Badminton Association (PBA), namely Mr. R. Narayanan, Mr. S. Munusamy, Mr. T. Krishnan, Mdm. Jeyshree and Mr. S. Ravinder Kumar. This Championship in now 40 year old and still going strong, we have also increased the number of events to 22 from the original 4 events.

Here it is only pertinent that I enlighten parents who might be wondering whether playing badminton or any other game might distract their children from their studies, I would say not, as you all know that a healthy body carries a healthy mind. Therefore, I would urge parents to allow their children to concentrate in one game so that they can really do well in that game instead of participating in too many games and be master of none. To further emphasize how games did not distract boys and girls from their studies, here are the names of some of the boys and girls who won, and also who participated in the Perak Indian Badminton Championship in the past and the positions they are holding now. ( Refer to the souvenir programme for the names of the past winners. )