Saturday, June 25, 2005

GOVT MUST GET VALUE FOR THEIR MONEY (24/06/2005 - The Malay Mail)

Publication : MM
Date : 24/06/2005

THE sooner athletes, coaches and sports administrators come to terms with
the fact the Government really mean business and want to see achievements
in the international arena, the faster they can get their act going.
The Cabinet Committee for Sports, chaired by Deputy Prime Minister
Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, on March 31, approved a RM193 million budget
to improve sports and revive the sports culture.
And last Tuesday, Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi,
sent a message to the national hockey team bound for the World Junior Cup
in Rotterdam, expressing his wish to see them set an example for other
sports to follow in reviving Malaysia's glorious years.
While team officials and players took his advice as words of
encouragement, hidden in Abdullah's message was a subtle reminder that
the Government wanted to see results if they were going to spend millions
of ringgit on sports.
After all, the Prime Minister strongly believes in transparency and
obviously, he wants to to see results to justify the millions spent.
It is even more important because Malaysia have tasted success with
smaller amounts of money spent on sports when passion, pride and honour
were enough to get the desired results.
But these days, money is the all-important factor as it is not only
used to pay athletes, but also to provide top-class training by top
coaches, pay for excellent training facilities, and not to mention the
rewards that accompany success.
However, many of these athletes, coaches and administrators have yet to
accept he fact that sports is now like a business, and professionalism is
the order of the day.
And the Government's generous financial support only underlines the
fact they believe that while sports can build a positive image for the
country, it will also create a healthy living society and serve as a
revenue-earner in the long run.
The Government do not want to see their funds being ploughed into
sports and not getting anything in return, except for more
disappointments, bitterness and frustrations.
A success story is what the Government are looking at and the onus is
on the sports fraternity to make it a reality.
However, there are numerous problems to be sorted out among sports
associations in getting their act together.
There is infighting within several associations whose sports are among
the eight cores named by the Cabinet Committee - aquatics (swimming and
diving), athletics, badminton, bowling, football, gymnastics, hockey and
This is not the right start, and it is disheartening to note that
despite Government funding, associations still cannot unite their members
to work towards a common goal: to do Malaysia proud.
The Government are not only looking at elite sports, but also at
grassroots level. This only goes to show the Government's support is here
to stay as they are not looking at shortcuts to success, but seeking
long-term benefits.
Of the approved budget, RM125 million has been allocated to grassroots
development, another RM30 million for the athletes development programme
while RM38 million is set aside for the high-performance programme.
The allocations underline the Government's seriousness towards
developing sports, rather than just instant success.
But Malaysia need success stories from sports, champions who not only
can be sources of inspiration for the young generation, but also to
reinforce the message there is indeed a future in sports.
Implementation of programmes at grassroots level is of utmost
importance because if they are not in place nor managed properly,
everything may go haywire.
And with so much money readily available, there is a lurking danger
there will be misappropriation of funds.
After all, there is some truth to the saying - "money is the root of
all evils" - and even more so when there is too much!
The best coaches need to be placed at grassroots level to secure a
better future because whatever foundations laid will benefit their
charges later on.
It is obvious things have not been right for some time at the
grassroots and Malaysia are now paying the price.
However, the current batch of athletes have been given some quick
fixes, and it is their duty to give their best because they will be doing
their part to help regain the country's sporting glory.
Malaysia may not enjoy the kind of success they did in the past, and it
will take some time before they get anywhere near there.
But athletes now have an opportunity to set things right and in motion
- and they must do it for the love of the nation.
Nowadays, athletes do not make the sacrifices which would make them
appreciate the benefits because they are much more fortunate with funds,
facilities and opportunities all readily available.
It is about time these athletes consider how lucky they are compared to
many of their countrymen
The young hockey players in Holland can start the ball rolling and give
Malaysian sports the much-needed jump-start and, hopefully, they will not
let the country down.

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