Saturday, March 20, 2010

Regaining sports' glorious past

Greater commitment needed

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s announcement of a RM2mil allocation for the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) to pay bonuses in arrears for its players and coaches is indeed timely that should boost their morale to continue their contribution to sports in the country. It is especially comes at a time when the nation celebrates the recent victory of national shuttler Datuk Lee Chong Wei in the prestigious All-England tournament. His win was indeed a moral boost and pride for the nation whose reputation in sports in general has been on the decline in recent years.

It is disturbing that the Prime Minister has to personally involve himself in granting allocations to pay bonuses in arrears for badminton players and coaches when it should have been done so efficiently at lower levels of the administration of sports association.

Such inefficiencies seem to be not just confined to BAM but many other sports organizations in the country. It has resulted in the low morale among the players and officials. How can we expect to excel in the sports when even basic remunerations for players and coaches are not paid in time?

Of late there has been a lot of emphasis on improving sports in the country especially in schools. Apart from payments many other factors need to be addressed in order to regain the past glory of badminton and other sports which we once excelled. It may be timely for those involved at the highest level to seriously commit themselves to arrest the declining standard of sports in the country.

Today we are extremely short of badminton courts and playing fields. Schools are built without adequate provisions for even the basic facilities for sports. Malaysia may be a world power in badminton but we do not have enough proper badminton courts in most schools and districts all over the country. Haven’t we reached a state where every school must have a proper badminton court? In fact every school, or at least every district, should not only have badminton courts but a small sports complex within its premises.

Even open fields that were easily accessible to the young are hardly available in most towns. Many existing open fields which used to be favourite places of recreation for our youngsters have been eliminated in the name of development. In their place today stand high rise condominiums, shopping complexes and parking lots, many of them redundant and really not necessary.

Politicization has marred the selection of sportsmen, sportswomen and even sports officials to represent school, state or country. These should be purely based on merit not by colour, creed,social status or political affiliation. Every effort must be made to tap the potential of every young Malaysian without any form of discrimination whatsoever.

The majority of sports heroes come from the masses and not from the elite segment of the population. The single most important means of developing a sport and players is to take the game to the masses. Unless we tap the great potentials that exist in the masses we will not succeed in selecting the best to represent the nation.

Football and hockey tournaments and athletic meets at school and district levels that used to be very popular in the sixties and seventies were effective ways to select talented young players for the state and national teams. These competitions are unheard of in most small towns these days thereby eliminating one of the best means of identifying potentially talented national players.

To start with we do not need high-tech sports complexes, sophisticated gadgets or advanced technical training but simple venues and basic facilities and above all a committed team of officials and coaches to manage the sports organizations professionally and fully dedicated to seriously improve the standard of sports in the country.

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