Friday, July 22, 2005

CLUBS TO THE FORE ( 22/07/2005 - The Malay Mail)

Publication : MM
Date : 22/07/2005

PRIVATE clubs known to stage activities exclusively for their members
have of late taken a bold step in helping in the development of sports in
the country.
One such institution is the Royal Selangor Club (RSC), the country's
oldest, starting in 1884 as a social meeting place for European planters
and civil servants, but now a truly Malaysian organisation with one of
the best soccer development programmes in place.
The programme, which started in February 2002, now has some 260 kids
training every Sunday evening at the RSC grounds in Bukit Kiara, under
the supervision of fully qualified coaches. In addition, the children
also take part in local and international tournaments from time to time.
Kavial Singh, RSC's soccer convener and head coach and Selangor's
former international, Walter Biggs, have been working diligently with
other coaches and staff on this systematic development programme,
catering for the six to 18 age group, which has since become the talk of
the town.
While the programme comprises 80 per cent of children of RSC members,
outsiders are also allowed to join, provided they are sponsored by a club
member while several poor children from various areas in Kuala Lumpur
have also been included.
Fees for the programme are minimal, unlike many similar programmes
mushrooming around the country as business ventures where their monthly
charge can be as high as RM400 per child!
But at RSC, members' children pay RM50 while it's RM60 for others.
RSC, also known as The Spotted Dog, are not the only private club in
the country who have a development programme for sports. There are others
like Penang Sports Club (soccer and tennis), PJ Club (cricket), Cobra
(rugby), Pacesetters Athletics Club Malaysia (athletics) and Ulu Klang
Recreation Club (soccer).
Most of these private clubs are well-off and do not have any financial
However, Pacesetters and UKRC are the smaller ones who have ongoing
programmes despite their limited resources.
Whatever the situation, these clubs should be lauded for their efforts,
and it is indeed sad that State and national sports associations do not
take this opportunity to work hand-in-hand with them to provide
assistance, especially on the technical aspect.
Since most of these sports bodies do not have proper development
programmes in place, they can use the clubs as their excellence centres.
Besides assisting them with technical expertise, they can also help
upgrade facilities at the clubs by installing floodlights, maintaining
the field and even adding new facilities, like artificial turfs.
Regular visits by the technical staff of the sports associations will
also help build a strong rapport and at the same time, keep tabs on the
children's progress in the programme.
It would be good if officials of the sports organisations can drop by
on a regular basis to inform parents that there is a future for their
children in sports. And also with the Government placing more emphasis on
sports these days, scholarships and places in higher-learning
institutions can be secured.
Many of the children who come from well-to-do families do not need the
assistance. And since these parents would want their sons and daughters
to study overseas, it will be lost talent for the nation.
But if sports associations work hard in convincing parents that there
is also a future in sports and encourage their children to reach the
highest level in their respective sports, there will be a pool of
athletes emerging from the clubs.
This is the least that sports associations can do when they have long
neglected their roles in grassroots-level development.
In tandem with this, there are national bodies like FA of Malaysia
announcing their plans to introduce a programme to train strikers!
This idea of a special coaching programme to mould goal-getters at
various age group levels may be novel and noble, but it has failed to
address the problem right in front of their doorsteps.
This is a case of not looking at the bigger picture because the reason
why there is a lack of Malaysian strikers is due to the competition rules
of the top league in the country.
The rules allows foreign players - a maximum of four - in the M-League
and every State and club have filled up their quotas. And it is not hard
to guess most of the imports are strikers.
When local strikers are not playing in the M-League, can Malaysia
expect to get them out of the blue for the national team or just hope
that training them at age-group levels but denying them competition
exposure, will see the emergence of top Malaysian strikers?
Just look at the Super and Premier Leagues, as well as the Premier Club
Championship, where most of the top scorers are foreigners.
Addressing the ills of Malaysian sports cannot be tackled in isolation,
but should be addressed as a whole - from grassroots to the highest
level. Everything must be in place with the right programmes -
infrastructure, technical expertise, continuity, professional approach,
administration and financial resources.
On the same topic of development, it was heartening to note the
Malaysian Junior Badminton Foundation (MJBF) will be set up so that there
will be more organised development programmes for the juniors.
At least, this is starting at grassroots levels with a long-term
vision, and the money spent will see returns.
Although the MJBF will initially be set up in Kuala Lumpur, it is also
important to note there are plans to extend the programme to other States
This is another issue be addressed in sports development - centralised
training centres - which will be discussed next week.

No comments: