Rejected in Malaysia, Revelling in Qatar

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From being told that he was not good enough for a leading role in Malaysia, Ong Beng Hee is now thriving with Qatar as his home for the past three years.

Malaysia’s loss is certainly Qatar’s gain as Beng Hee took up the offer to become technical director for the Gulf nation in 2017 and he has certainly made a name for himself.

In fact, the 39-year-old has had a hand in revamping the grassroots programme in Qatar and is also one of those behind the scenes in the annual Qatar Classic.

There is no mistaking that Beng Hee has shown that he is capable, not just as a coach, but also in a management role with the Qatar Tennis and Squash Federation.

It’s just a shame that Qatar are the ones benefiting from Beng Hee instead of Malaysia.

Especially since Beng Hee is the one who truly put Malaysian squash on the world map from being the country’s first ever world junior champion in 1998 and is to date, still the country’s highest ranked men’s player having reached a ranking of World No 7 during his heydays.

Beng Hee, who initially eyed a head coach role in Malaysia, is however taking the rejection back home in his stride as he is focused on improving his already impressive laurels.

“When I first came here, the first six months were the tough part because I was with my family and it’s never easy trying to settle down in a new country,” he said.

“But just like how I’ve always been throughout my playing career, I adapt. And the past two and half years have been good, both for my career and my family.

“My job in Qatar is actually more than just coaching. Coaching is still a very big part but there’s also a lot of event management like the (ongoing) World Championship and also managing the squash programme here.

“In fact, a big chunk of the work here is talent identification. We do a lot of grassroots work by going to the schools and trying to get young school kids to sign up for squash.

“It’s actually a lot tougher than it sounds because Qatar does not have a big population and we have to compete with the bigger sports like football and tennis.

“But I feel that I’ve managed well enough, especially with my past experience as a player.

Kng Zheng Guan/NST

“A lot people back home weren’t sure if I could handle a job of this scale but I felt that I’ve proven enough.”

Since Beng Hee’s arrival, the number of junior players in Qatar has more than doubled while tournaments in the Middle Eastern state have always received favourable feedback.

And for now, Beng Hee is happy to call Qatar home and he has no intentions of returning to Malaysia.

“I certainly hope my time here will help me develop a more complete package, both as a coach and in a management role,” added Beng Hee. – NST