Tuesday, March 9, 1999

NSC unwilling to change (The Malay Mail)

THE National Sports Council (NSC) are sticking to their cash incentive
scheme despite calls for a review.
Though times have changed, NSC will still want to throw money around for
sporting excellence where RM80,000 is given for a Commonwealth Games or
Asiad gold.
The proposal to reduce cash rewards and to go for a veritable pension
scheme has been shot down by the NSC Board two years ago.
This was disclosed by NSC Director-General Datuk Mazlan Ahmad when asked
if was any move to change the current system.
The Board, in rejecting proposals for a review, are of the opinion that
the athletes should be able to manage their own money and that paying
small amounts of reward is insufficient to motivate them.
Mailsport had suggested during the Bangkok Asian Games last year that
NSC should not lavish too much money on the athletes in order to keep them
hungry and competitive.
The NSC were urged to study the South Korean incentive system where
bringing honours for the country earns an athlete merit points. The total
points accumulated on retirement translate into monthly pension for life.
For the Bangkok Asiad, South Korea only rewarded their athletes who won
golds with token sums whereas those who earned silver and bronze medals
were not given any cash.
The concern is that our present system can be a double-edged sword that
can kill initiative.
It can lead to `short selling' by the athletes who, after getting
substantial rewards, have little drive left for excellence. And some may
even retire prematurely, which means the years of effort and money spent
in developing them comes to naught.
Mazlan agreed that the present system is not the best in terms of
getting the best out of the athletes in the long run and it also does not
provide for their future.
"However, our proposal to review the incentive scheme was not accepted
by our Board.
"But since last year, it was decided that we pay out 70 per cent of the
rewards and hold back 30 per cent that is to be invested and fully
returned to the athletes when they retire."
Mazlan agreed a merit points scheme like that of the Korean system would
lead to athletes prolonging their careers.
National bowling coach Sid Allen, who is vocal about huge rewards, said
although he has nothing against rewarding athletes, flooding them with big
sums of money can be counter productive.
Allen, who is all for retirement funds to be set up for athletes, said
they would be inclined to look for short term success and it would be
difficult to motivate those already well rewarded.
For Malaysia to have enduring and committed athletes, its incentive
system has to be revamped.

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