Thursday, April 1, 1999

Unfair to compare present with the past (The Malay Mail)

TWO veteran school sports officials feel it is unfair to compare present
trends with the golden era of yesteryear.
A. Vaithilingam, who was the Selangor Schools Sports Council (SSSC)
secretary-general, and K. Balachandran, who was the Federal Territory
Schools Sports Council secretary-general, agreed that schools remain the
Vaithilingam, 64, said we have to take into account the demands of today
and the concept among teachers, pupils and parents.
"We cannot find many teachers who are dedicated to sports these days
because of the system," said Vaithilingam.
"Even if there were such teachers, they would find it hard to survive.
"Most heads of schools will not accommodate teachers who spend too much
time on sports and having to attend sports meetings in or outside the
"Of course, we do not have many teachers who are properly trained."
Vaithilingam pointed out that the paper chase is overwhelming.
There are always extra school work and with tuition thrown in, there is
little time for extra-curricular activities.
And then, there is also the matter of children more interested in
computer games.
Balachandran said one of the reasons why there is lack of teachers
committed towards sports these days is that results on the field are not
taken into account and as such, due recognition is not granted.
"Teachers want to be remunerated if they are to spend extra hours in
schools," said Balachandran.
"Gone are the days when teachers will spend hours on sports for nothing.
Teachers used to coach athletes during school holidays and public
"These teachers would spend their own money on the children and even
ferry them around for the various competitions without taking a single sen
for petrol."
Both Vaithilingam and Balachandran agreed that sports facilities in
schools, especially in the urban areas, are deteriorating in the name of
"While there are still good fields and other facilities in rural areas,
they lack the expertise," said Balachandran.
"In urban areas, many fields have disappeared. And those that remain are
in deplorable condition."
Vaithilingam also pointed out that because of the dire need for more
classrooms, school fields are sacrificed.
He cited an example of Sekolah Menengah Sultan Abdul Samad in Petaling
Jaya, which was the only school in the area which had a 400-metre track, a
full-sized soccer pitch and facilites for cricket.
"But someone decided that they will have to build another school in the
vicinity and part of the field was taken up," he said.
Both Vaithilingam and Balachandran agreed that it is pointless living in
the past.
The present calls for drastic action and unless the relevant powers that
be are willing to work together, sports in schools are further doomed.

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