AFTER LONDON OLYMPICS: What is next for Malaysia after LCW and Pandelela Rinong?
Our football briefly dominated the SEA region briefly by fluke when the Japanese and Koreans were busy with their nation-building after the WWII. Our hockey is fortunate enough to stay relevant amongst Australia, India, Pakistan, Canada and the Netherlands until today. Badminton by far has been able to put Malaysian on some part of the world map in sports with our only hope in winning the first gold in the Olympics from the men’s single in badminton. I have to say that the one and only Datuk Nicole Ann David is a class of her own in squash but squash is not included In the Olympics.
So we have only Datuk Lee and may be his trainer Datuk Misbun to thank for giving us the once in the life time hope for an Olympic gold, but no thanks to the BAM, the body that is supposedly being entrusted to produce world class badminton players. BAM is hopeless; it has failed. It goes the same with FAM and the rest of our sports bodies which have got a substantial share from the national budget every year, which until now have failed to uplift sports in Malaysia to even to the regional level.
The just recovered Datuk Lee Chong Wei out of his own efforts managed to raise our hopes to the maximum height in the London 2012 Olympics last night, but luck was not on our side. The rest of our sports not mentioned above however have never excelled beyond our national boundaries. The only part in sports that Malaysia seems to excel is in the match fixing and illegal sports bookies.
The big question is why is this so?
Malaysia and I mean almost everyone, from the athletes, sportsmen and women, to the sports bodies and associations all the way to the government have never taken sports seriously. It all depends on the freaking luck that someone is born in Malaysia with the right genes to excel personally in some particular sports. We have never produced a single world class sportsperson.
First of all let us convince ourselves that nations can produce world class athletes and sportspersons. Powerful nations like the US, China and Russia have been able to produce truckload of them. So you think only such nations can produce them? Then you are wrong. Jamaica, Nigeria, Lithuania Trinidad, Venezuela are just a few poor and developing countries who have produced world class athletes and sportspersons. Still not convince? We even lost several times to Vietnam in football!
Then we must re-think and look inwards and ask ourselves, do we want to let our sports be forever in the backwaters? If not, then we must all change our attitude towards sports. Sports must be made the in-thing amongst the youth, not only academic qualifications and definitely not computer games. This is hard but not impossible, because we do not need to convince every youth but only a spectrum amongst them.
Who should be responsible and what should be done?
Every sports body must be entrusted to find the new talents, use the modern physio-analysis method to determine that the physiques and mental capacities do complement the natural talents and efforts must be made to train, build up the skills, stamina and spirit to excel. Besides the normal education up to the university level, they must also be provided with financial security. The financial support should be by the corporate world after all this is how they can pay back to the country where they make their money.
The government should finance the talent seeking, training and healthcare while the universities should provide the scholarships. The sports bodies must undertake the responsibility to produce their own particular field; BAM for badminton and FAM for football.
Fortunately we already have some form of set-up mentioned above, but the effort and focus must be increased several folds. The first exercise is to ensure that these bodies are well managed with the proper people, who have the talents, expertise, vision and commitment to produce word class product. The dead woods and rent seekers must be sacked. Those interested in the politics in the various sports bodies must be thrown out too, because it is not a place for politics.
One way to ensure that those in the sports bodies perform is to give them their Key Performance Indicators. Let us be frank and look at BAM for example, with Nadzmi Salleh who we hoped would use his corporate know-how to improve our badminton. He failed miserably. We have never heard of him producing the KPIs for those in BAM. So if Nadzmi Salleh is a very busy corporate man ensuring all his business makes huge profits, then why did BAM get him to be the Chairman in the first place?
Let us look at the goals and visions of BAM below;
That badminton will be a vibrant and popular sport in Malaysia that contributes towards nation building and social development by reaching out to all Malaysians in its pursuit of glory for the country.
■To have a big pool of world class players ■To lift the standard of women players to that of China and Korea ■To have a bigger pool of back-up players for the men’s team and the women’s team ■To ensure consistent success in the international arena ■To develop a big pool of qualified international technical officials ■To implement development programmes from grass-root to national level ■To own fully integrated training centres at both national and state level ■To make badminton ‘the sport’ of the country
Have BAM achieved anything thus far? Zilch.
It is the same for our football.
The top management in the FAM is also not performing but the problem is, who dare say anything to the Sultan of Pahang? Should it not be time to have royalties be just patrons in the FAM or in any other sports body without executive powers? Annuar Musa and Subahan Kamal should just concentrate in politics while the retired Lt Jen Dato’ Azzuddin Ahmad should actually retire. The rest of the Executive Committee members should also be replaced. They have failed.
Not only they have failed in improving football in our country, we also experienced several riots and hooliganism never seen before in our football history. FAM is just like a private, exclusive and elite club where the club and its committee members gather every evening, drinking, dining, smoking cigars and chat about football.
The role of government in sports
China is the best example for Malaysia to emulate and we do not have to be communists to do what China has done. The government must simply have the will and not let politics and the politicians’ personal interests spoil the game. The government must not use the sports bodies to gain mileage over the opposition and votes during elections. The government must not use these bodies to provide some sort of activities to fill the time for political pensioners.
The government is not serious in developing sports in our country. The government is more interested in making-money; by building huge and expensive sports facilities and infra-structure, make money from the contracts and leave the shoddily built complexes to rot, without proper maintenance. Have the government not learnt any lesson from the collapsed roof of the brand new Terengganu Stadium? Why have nobody taken to task for not maintaining the KL Velodrome that a new velodrome has to be built? The government too must be serious about sports in this country just like education and the economy, if not; we are just wasting money via the sports ministry.
The government also failed in its effort to produce world class Malaysians by giving citizenship to outstanding sports talents. Besides snubbing Vijay Singh, nobody else come rushing in. They are not keen to be Malaysians!
If the government can send one man to space through a tough nationwide selection process, rigorous tests and physical training, then followed by mental endurance and health check, why can’t it produce say one world class golfer who just have to focus the swing on one ball with a precise and powerful enough hit while just walking lazily from one hole to another?