IT is private clubs like Cobra (Combined Old Boys Rugby Association) who have given hope for the future of sports in the Malaysia.
While many national sports associations have become over depended on handouts to conduct their activities, it is clubs like Cobra who have emerged that pride and passion can take them a long way.
Infact, putting to shame many established associations who come no where close to the management of Cobra.
And this was clearly noticed and underlined by none other than the Youth and Sports Minister, Datuk Azalina Othman Said when she was invited by Cobra to their humble home in Petaling Jaya to officially announce the club’s 36th HSBC-Cobra Invitational Rugby 10s to held from Sept 8-10 at the Petaling Jaya Stadium in Kelana Jaya.
Azalina went to commend on the club for having achieved what many established sports associations have failed, where they had not only organized an international tournament with excellence, but at the sametime went on to expose Malaysia to the world.
And it was just not the international exposure that the tournament attained, but the fact the club’s development programme was displayed to the world, drew accolades.
And to top it all, the club members worked very hard to raise the funds for the event and ensured transparency to the core, that corporate sponsors had no hesitation to return and continue to support them.
For a club with a humble beginning when they were formed in 1967 to encourage young Malaysians to continue playing rugby after leaving school, they have certainly come a long way.
The clubhouse today stands on a piece of land which pioneer and life member Datuk Aziz Ismail, one of the best scrum-halves the nation produced, had assisted to acquire in the 70s when he was attached to the Petaling Jaya Land Office.
Today the club boasts of a complex which has a gymnasium, squash and badminton courts, training rooms, dormitories and function rooms.
It has been a long walk to where they are today, but it was pride and passion for the game, that has seen the club this far.
Officials leading the club are sportsmen who only have the game at heart.
Their ability to coax sponsors and working partners in terms of big corporations, only speaks volume of confidence this club is oozing out.
Infact, more and more private clubs like Ulu Kelang Recreation Club, Selangor Club, Penang Sports Club, Penang Swimming Club, Penang Chinese Swimming Club to name a few have surfaced to show excellent management and programmes held to uplift sports in the country.
Malaysians generally have been known to be excellent organisers, but of late have got some backlashes as more and more associations either take things for granted or take the easy way out by getting management companies to manage their affairs for them.
But Cobra will have no such thing, because they are proud of what they do and want to slog it out themselves, so that they can savor the fruit of their labour.
More importantly, they do not want to tarnish their good reputation built over the years.
Their previous tournament report presented on Tuesday, was nothing less to a big corporation report with every minute detail listed – from number of newspapers clippings which appeared for the tournament to television viewership.
That a small club like Cobra could attract international television to air their tournament which finally reached 90 million household world wide, is indeed by no means an easy feat.
It was not surprising that Azalina in her speech said that many NSAs can take cue from Cobra.
Azalina said: “If only all national associations managed like Cobra, sports in the country will be striving.”
Indeed, sports in Malaysia will be booming, especially with excellent Government support which includes millions of ringgit spent on sports, infra-structure, incentives, salaries etc.
What most national associations lack compared to Cobra is the pride and passion for the game.
Many are in the sports for the money they can make out of it, rather than what they can give the game.
With sports sponsorship being part and parcel of the game, many have taken these sponsorships for granted and in some instances, even abused it.
Sponsors have every right to demand for accountability, but more often than not, sponsors are treated as just as “hand-out machines”.
Sports has moved to a new and modern generation, but with it, officials have to keep tab with the latest developments and trends in sports management and manage their associations like they managing corporations.
Cobra is a fine shining example for NSAs to emulate, because if a small club of 200 members can achieve something so magnitude and meaningful, they surely must have something good going.
Long live Cobra!