Sunday, 21 August 2016

A lesson to learn

When I was fleetingly watching the semi-final match between Chen Long and Viktor Axelsen last Friday, I did not give a thought about who the Danish player actually was. But then I was surprised to learn that he is currently placed Number Four in the whole badminton rankings. It was actually very befitting that the badminton world's Numbers One to Four players would be contesting in the semi-finals of the men's singles tournament at the Rio Olympic Games 2016.

However, more surprises were to await me. At an interview that Axelsen gave to China's CCTV5 channel, he spoke in what I was told was flawless Mandarin. It had taken him slightly more than two years to learn this language. Why did he do it, that is, learn Mandarin?

In a 2015 interview, he hoped that learning the language would be a key step in securing future sponsorship and lining up potential coaching jobs when he retired from the game. “I started to take it up last New Year (2013),” Axelsen had said. “Coming into 2014 I had a talk with my former coach and he thought it was a good idea to begin learning it. I wanted to start something new and ever since it has been a one-way street. I am just getting better with each week and I hope that it will open some doors in Asia with sponsorship and work.”

This revelation comes at a time when certain quarters in the Malaysian society are retreating behind Bahasa Melayu and refusing to open up to learning international languages such as English and Mandarin. They just don't get it that knowing an additional language can open vistas for their children, or even themselves, to improve in their work and life. Their own Bahasa Melayu will never suffer but knowing English or Mandarin will offer employment and business opportunities originally not available to them. How can they ever improve just knowing your own language? They'll be stuck in a rut forever. and don't go blaming others for overtaking them.

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