Friday, December 30, 2005

My New Year wishes (30/12/2005 - The Malay Mail)

Publication : MM
Date : 30/12/2005
Headline : My New Year wishes

AS we usher in the New Year one second after midnight on Sunday, there
are not one but 12 wishes - one for each month of the year - that I hope
will come true for the sake of sports in the country.
For far too long, we have been trying to revitalise sports, with the
hope of relishing their achievements, and thereby justifying the big sums
of money spent.
Of course, we have had our moments of success in squash, bowling,
badminton, wushu and recently, the SEA Games in the Philippines.
But there is much more to be achieved, especially in all the other
sports that are still struggling to make an impact.
And for that to happen, I believe these 12 wishes, or at least the
majority of them, have to be fulfilled.
Indeed, 2006 will be a busy year for sports where Malaysian athletes
will be involved in a number of major events, except the World Cup in
Germany in June.
These include the Melbourne Commonwealth Games, World Cup hockey,
Thomas Cup, World Badminton Championships, Men's World Bowling
Championship, World Squash Championships and Doha Asian Games.
If success is achieved in these competitions, all will be fine. If not,
there is going to be witch-hunting.
So, looking at sports in the country on a long-term and sustainable
perspective, it is best if sports associations, athletes and the public
try to make these wishes come true:
staff of the association, from the leader right down to the office boy,
are held accountable and work for the sport, and not their personal
agendas. Ensure professionals are hired for the respective jobs in the
set-up because in modern-day sports, leading positions cannot be filled
by volunteers.
2. HAVING A VISION: Set targets and realistic goals and always start
development at the grassroots level for natural progression. Conduct
checks and balances from time to time. Forget about short-term goals.
3. EMPHASISE SCHOOL SPORTS: This point is important because schools
form the foundation of any sport. The Education and Sports Ministries
have to work hand in hand, while the National Sports Associations and
State Sports Associations have to play their role in helping schools by
setting up bases there.
4. NURTURE THE PASSION: Be it an official, athlete or the public,
unless they embrace sports, we will be fooling ourselves to try and
achieve targets.
5. FINANCIAL ACCOUNTABILITY: With millions of ringgit being spent by
the Government on sports, the funds given have to be accounted for to the
last sen, and proposals closely scrutinised before they are approved.
6. SELF-RELIANCE: Sports associations cannot depend on the Government
to fund their programmes forever. They have to start standing on their
own two feet, and also begin behaving like business organisations by
seeking sponsors for their own survival.
7. RESPONSIBILITY: Sports associations have a social and cultural
responsibility besides playing a part in education and national
WORLD: Unless sports associations are in tune with the international
scene, we are going to be left behind. This is especially so with sports
going increasingly hi-tech.
9. INTERNATIONAL EXPOSURE: Sports associations cannot remain in their
shells, but instead should meet international challenges and compete
against the best, if they want to close the growing gap in many sports
between Malaysia and their neighbours. Athletes should be exposed to the
highest levels of competition. It is not just about winning medals each
time we compete.
10. SPORTING FACILITIES: Sports associations should work closely with
the State Governments or town councils to ensure there are more playing
fields, gymnasiums, halls and courts throughout the country. Without
proper infrastructure and, more importantly, nor public access, sports is
not going to make any big leap in the future. Stop building ultra-modern
stadiums, which become white elephants or are not easily accessible to
the public.
11. LIMITED GOVERNMENT INTERVENTION: It is great the Government are
fully supportive of sports in the country and genuinely want to see
sports reach a higher level. But they have to be careful not to take over
the responsibilities of the sports associations because the latter also
have an equally important role to play. It would be better to teach the
sports associations to fish rather than supply them with the fishes.
12. MEDIA COVERAGE AND UNDERSTANDING: The media play a vital role in
the development of sports and it is important that reporting is
objective. There should be no cover-ups, biased reporting nor favours
granted. There will always be the good, the bad and the ugly and every
aspect should be reported to help sports in the country reach the peak.
These may be one too many wishes to be achieved in a year when we have
failed for so long. But there is nothing like taking a bold step to try
and achieve it for the sake of Malaysian sports, which has tremendous
potential that has never been fully realised because of all the
Have a Happy New Year and let's hope for a prosperous 2006 for
Malaysian sports.

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