THE JUNIOR SEGMENT
Let us look at the Junior population of U12, U16 and U20 which will eventually add up towards our overall quantity and performance. If we do better in the Junior population, in the years to come, we will probably improve our overall achievement
For the U12 population, we have the highest population of U12 FIDE Rated players amongst all ASEAN countries. Malaysia’s U12 population is so high that the combine population from all the other 9 ASEAN countries is still unable to beat our numbers. As of May 2020, we have a total of 2,504 U12 FIDE registered players in Malaysia leaving Philippines at a distant second with only 708 registered players and Singapore at 685 players. In 2010, we only have 12 registered players and by 2020, we have grown at a rate of almost 250 players per year or more than 20 players per month.
However, in terms of average player’s strength, we are ranked 5th with an average ELO rating of 1241.2 points with Indonesia leading the pack at an ELO rating of 1402.4 points. Only Thailand and Singapore are lower than us at 1191.9 and 1171.1 ELO points respectively with Laos, Brunei and Cambodia not having any U12 players who are rated. In 2010, Malaysia was 3rd with an average FIDE rating of 1829.5 points
Comparing the average rating performance between 2010 and 2020, Malaysia dropped almost 600 points during the 10-year period. Philippines suffered the most reduction losing more than 700 points going from 2058 in 2010 to 1311.5 in 2020. Back in 2010, Philippines was the top U12 country in ASEAN but is now ranked 4th behind Indonesia, Myanmar and Vietnam.
Looking at the overall picture for U12 in 2010, the good news is that the gap between the top country – Philippines, and the lowest – Singapore, was more than 330 points but as of May 2020, the gap has shrunk to 230 points between top ranked Indonesia against last place Singapore.
With regards to the number of players who are FIDE rated, Malaysia is also ranked 5th with 9% of its population having a FIDE rating. Interesting to note that this percentage is slightly lower than the total ASEAN countries rated population which is calculated at 11%. Vietnam and Indonesia are both at the top making it two of the better countries within ASEAN that can keep a reasonably high number of rated players with a higher strength FIDE average within the region. At 229 players in the U12 category who are rated, Malaysia should be able to maintain its FIDE population growth, but it needs to focus more on developing players strength in order to climb up the power ranking.
Understandably, with many organizers focusing to cash in on children’s activities – especially under the auspices of the Ministry of Education in getting events to be recognized as National and International level, a lot of young players may end up unwillingly as a FIDE registered player. While it may create challenges in our effort to increase our FIDE rating strength, we should also take into consideration that we are only 160 points adrift from Indonesia and the figure is still realistically within our reach to equal or surpass their ranking. With a well prepared and structured development and training program coupled with a well-developed selection program – with an excellent administrative arm, we should be able to make a significant impact towards improvement.
While stopping players from becoming a FIDE registered player may not be the best method to curb our decline in rating points, having a more structured learning and development program is perhaps the better way to counter the downward trend. Based on observation, we have a lot of naturally talented young players who – with a little bit of training and guidance, can provide us the quick nudge that we need to climb the regional ladder.
Next Up – Is our U16 better than U12 in ASEAN?