Saturday, January 21, 2006

Putting the money to good use (20/01/2006 - The Malay Mail)

Publication : MM
Date : 20/01/2006
Headline : Putting the money to good use

SPORTS is a defined activity for pleasure that also needs physical
efforts or skills.
Basically, it is all about enjoyment, with the elite taking their
participation to excel at a higher level, to compete against the best at
various levels, and also to win in their respective fields.
Sports is more often than not competed in a special area, and according
to specified rules.
While the general rules of sports are quite clear and do not cause
complications, it is the rules set to govern specific sports meets that
spawn countless controversies.
This is especially so when the rules are set with specific agendas by
certain parties who have vested interests or with ulterior motives.
If only the administrators of sports can stick to fair play, and are
passionate about the development of sports, everything will then fall
into place.
The Malaysia Games (Sukma), going into their 11th edition in Kedah in
May, have lost the essence and meaning of their inauguration in 1986.
It is now a a battle for the medals at all costs, building new
facilities for the sake of having them and seeing certain parties gaining
financially in the process.
Athletes have become the sacrificial lambs and pawns in the
bureaucratic battles.
The Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) have rightly decided to take up
the case with the National Sports Council (NSC) to allow national
athletes, who did not win gold or silver medals in the recent SEA Games,
to compete in the coming Sukma.
It is baffling how young athletes are barred from competing in an
age-group competition meant for them, just because they have competed in
the SEA Games.
It is fine that those athletes who have won gold or silver medals at
the SEA Games - in any case the SEA Games is the lowest level of
international competition in the region - are barred from competing in
the Sukma, as they have attained certain standards and should not deny
other budding athletes a chance of tasting glory.
Besides, the presence of these SEA Games athletes at the Sukma will not
be healthy for the development of sports - which was the Malaysia Games'
prime objective.
Many States had not released their athletes to compete at the
Philippines SEA Games last month as they would be barred from competing
in the Sukma.
This was indeed sad, because the losers are the athletes themselves,
who were deprived of exposure at SEA Games level, which could have had
helped them improve.
If all the States are serious about the development of sports, the
number of medals won should be the least of their worries as they should
focus on how well their athletes fare or how much progress they have made.
However, the States will be complaining they have spent a lot of money
for the Sukma and thus need to see immediate returns.
This is rather subjective because in most cases, the money spent is on
attire, accommodation at top-quality hotels, allowances and handsome
monetary rewards for achievements at youth level, when the funds could
have been put to better use.
At the same time, money spent on the young athletes' training, food
supplements, allowances, coaches and facilities, will be with the
nation's sporting future in mind. And that itself is worth many gold
Development is about spending money for the right reasons and seeing
rewards at a later stage.
There is further controversy with the Sukma secretariat declaring that
the Federal Territories Ministry, Kuala Lumpur, Labuan and Putrajaya,
will compete in Kedah under one banner - Federal Territory.
In the past, KL and Labuan always competed in the Sukma as separate
However, last March, the three FTs were merged under the Federal
Territories Sports Council by the then Federal Territories Minister Tan
Sri Mohd Isa Abdul Samad.
Sports associations in Kuala Lumpur, however, do not agree on competing
as one team at the Kedah Sukma, and have appealed to Sports Minister
Datuk Azalina Othman Said (left) to intervene.
It is hoped that whatever decision taken on the status of the Federal
Territory teams, it will be in the athletes' interest, and also for the
development of sports in the country.
One has to look at the big picture and not be narrow-minded by making
decisions for selfish reasons, which will be detrimental to the country's
sporting future.
Big money is spent on sports. As such, let's forget about egos and
personal agendas by making the right decisions, so that sports and
athletes in the country will be the winners.

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