HE may have only caught a glimpse of the local scene, but badminton legend Peter Gade believes Filipinos have what it takes to excel in the international stage.
“They can. Of course, they have the possibility,” said Gade. “But I think it demands a change in their mentality. They have to work really hard and believe that they can do it. They have the same possibilities as in China or Malaysia.”
The Danish shuttler was in town recently to grace the FDG Cup where he played in an exhibition match alongside Robinsons Land Corp. president Frederick D. Go.
Although he admitted he saw little action from the locals in the competition, the now-retired 36-year-old former world No. 1 believes the Filipinos’ interest in the sport is a start of the road toward greatness.
“I didn’t get the chance of seeing actual matches from the tournament, but from what I know and I’ve seen a bit, there’s no doubt you have a lot of interest,” said Gade, who graced the event along with reigning world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia.
“But you have to have an education about what do you have to do if you want to be one of the best players in the world,” he said.
Interest, however, only gets one so far, according to Gade.
“It’s a life-long commitment,” said Gade, a five-time European Championship winner, former All-England champion and winner of 22 Grand Prix titles.
“You have to be fully committed in every area. You have to spend time. Not only for one year or two years, but you have to make a plan for five years and 10 years and follow it then will you see results coming.”
Plenty of sacrifice is also necessary, said Gade, who only officially retired from the sport seven months ago after playing competitive badminton since he was 6.
“You have to want to take out a part of your life and do this for many years. And it’s very difficult to do that when you have education and other things going on as a young human being,” he said.
“That’s what I try to do as a coach: to motivate players in doing so because badminton is a really nice sport,” added Gade, now a part-time coach in his native Denmark apart from going around to world to play in exhibition matches.
There have been notable players in the country like siblings Kennevic and Kennie Asuncion in the past, and Malvinne Alcala at present, but none of them has yet to make a huge splash in the international scene.
Gade said the country needs a “role model” whom the young players can draw inspiration from. And who better to be that figure than him?
Asked if he was willing to help train the country’s national team players in any way, Gade answered in the affirmative — as a sparring partner or as a consultant.
“Yes, of course. I like the people around that I’ve been acquainted with in the seven days I’ve been here and if, in some way in the future, I can do some things, it would be nice. We could make a plan for that,” said Gade.