Saturday, April 15, 2006

NSAs must now focus on the grassroots (14/04/2006 -The Malay Mail)

Publication: MM
Date : 14/04/2006
Headline : NSAs must now focus on the grassroots

NATIONAL Sports Associations (NSAs) have lots more to do, especially in
developing their respective sports at grassroots level, now that the
Government have come out in full support of sports by funding the
training of elite athletes.
This was the strong stand taken by Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM)
president, Tunku Tan Sri Imran Tuanku Ja'afar, when he met editors from
the electronic and print media at a luncheon yesterday.
And Tunku Imran is correct because the Government - through the
Ministry of Sports and the National Sports Council - have virtually
funded the cost of training elite athletes, especially for the eight core
Thus, this leaves the NSAs with more time, manpower and also money to
channel their energy into developing the basics of their respective
In recent years, there is no denying that most NSAs have neglected
grassroots development and just depended on the schools to carry out that
And sadly, the schools alone cannot do the job for these NSAs because
they have far too many sports to handle in a calendar year. And each
sport will be lucky if it can get two to three months of attention in a
Tunku Imran stressed it is imperative the respective NSAs give
immediate attention to the matter because their athletes in the elite
squad will not be there forever. Replacements must be found, and
programmes must be in place churning out new talent.
"Without doubt, the monetary burden to train elite athletes has been
taken off the NSAs' shoulders. As such, they should channel their
attention towards grooming rising stars, finding new talents and
promoting their respective sports so that they would have a wider base
for selection," said Tunku Imran.
He, however, added that at the end of the day, the NSAs are the ones
who should bear the responsibility of success or failure of their
athletes, because they are the ones who spotted, groomed and nurtured
them into championship material.
The NSC can provide all the training, competition exposure and
guidance, but they are actually working on athletes provided by the NSAs
from the start.
If NSAs provide half-baked athletes or who do not have the potential to
reach international standards, then the NSC cannot be blamed for not
reaching the targets.
In a nutshell, it just means that although there is tremendous support
of sports by the Government, NSAs still have a key role to play in the
development of sports.
NSAs cannot be waiting for hand-outs and surrender the responsibility
of moulding champions to the NSC.
NSC are the supporting body to NSAs, and it pointless blaming NSC each
time there is a failure, because they should actually be blaming
Take the FA of Malaysia (FAM) for instance. They were regarded as one
of the richest associations not so long ago, but ever since the
withdrawal of Dunhill as their main sponsors, they have fallen on hard
Maybe it is a blessing in disguise that Dunhill pulled out as sponsors
because FAM were, in a way, getting too comfortable and complacent.
But the changed scenario has seen FAM being made to work hard to bring
in new sponsors. And since none of these sponsors are in the mould of
Dunhill, they have to look for multi-sponsorship.
And FAM have to oblige all their sponsors by giving them their money's
worth in terms of exposure and mileage.
They can no longer sit back and hope the money will drop on their laps.
And it was under these circumstances that FAM have secured yet another
new partner in AirAsia.
And when AirAsia Group chief executive officer, Datuk Tony Fernandes,
revealed at the luncheon how the sponsorship came about, it spoke of the
many associations who just sit around and hoping sponsors will come to
Last November, Fernandes was invited by FAM independent member Khairy
Jamaluddin to speak at the marketing aspect of the FIFA Com-Unity
Workshop, organised by FAM.
He was bombarded with questions on why AirAsia were linked to
Manchester United, but could not support local soccer.
His answer was simple: "No one approached us."
That could have prompted FAM secretary-general Datuk Seri Dr Ibrahim
Saad to get cracking, resulting in the sponsorship deal.
This just goes to show how many associations take things for granted
and just sit around waiting for things to happen, when they themselves
can set things in motion.
And judging by Fernandes' enthusiasm yesterday and based on what he has
done with AirAsia with his deputy CEO Kamarudin Meranun when they started
off with just two planes, 4 1/2 years ago, FAM can expect to soar to
greater heights.
As Fernandes himself puts it; "There is nothing wrong to dream, as long
as one works hard to make it a reality."

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