Friday, September 9, 2005

UKRC SHOW THE WAY (09/09/2005 - The Malay Mail)

Publication : MM
Date : 09/09/2005

IT is good to know that volunteerism, camaraderie and community values
still exist in today's punishing rat race.
And it is even more heartening to note there are sports clubs who
practise these values and they have proven that they can manage their
activities better than some of the more established institutions.
Ulu Klang Recreation Club (UKRC) are one such prime example.
Last weekend, the club - which have stood test and time to keep the
field from being acquired in the name of development - organised their
5th International Soccer 9s.
The tournament saw 12 teams competing. Two sides were from Singapore,
of which one - Garden FC - won the inaugural title.
It was not just about some veterans still trying to play football, when
their legs would certainly have been begging otherwise.
It was the manner UKRC orga nised the tournament, which had an air of
togetherness, friendship and warmth as well the spirit of competition,
all in the name of sports.
The fact the club - under the able leadership of Andrew Gopal - managed
to raise RM60,000 from the tournament and even secured a coup (by getting
Astro to be the title sponsors) speaks volumes of the efforts that went
towards the organising aspect.
What made it more remarkable was UKRC only spent RM20,000 to organise
the event.
The club did not engage any PR firm to publicise their event, nor any
management company were hired to raise funds and run the tournament.
The members of the club and residents of Ulu Klang all had a hand in
ensuring the tournament's success.
It was a common sight during the tournament to see club officials in
their distinctive attire, scampering the premises carrying out their
tasks - from filling drink containers, setting out chairs and tables,
decorating the VIP tent and keeping the area spick and span, ensuring
everything looked its best for the guest teams.
Instead of holding the welcoming dinner for the teams at a fancy hotel,
UKRC just arranged the tables on their field with light supplied through
oil-lamps placed in strategic points.
Only about RM7,000 was spent on the dinner for about 300 guests,
including community residents who used the club facilities.
And the food was fit for royalty.
The highlight of the event was a 10-minute-long fireworks display,
which saw the guests giving a standing ovation to the club for a splendid
show, one they least expected of such an insignificant tournament.
And no, before anyone starts accusing the club of "burning their money"
on the fireworks, it did not cost the club a single sen as it came
courtesy of the residents. They only spent RM1,000 - a 50 per cent
discount - to purchase the fireworks from a dealer-friend.
The club even had a hi-tea party at the end of the tournament on
Sunday, again with tables laid out on the field for about 100 guests.
All - winners and losers, spectators, supporters and visitors - left
UKRC with a heavy heart as they knew they would be missing the club's
warmth and hospitality.
For a club who only collect a monthly membership fee of RM20 from those
who play soccer in order to cover field maintenance costs, they certainly
have a lot to show.
It is free for others who join UKRC but they have to pay minimal fees
to use their other facilities, including a community hall and a
basketball court.
Over the years, UKRC have done renovations at minimal cost. And most
times, the members buy equipment on their own for the renovations, hire
part-time workers and they themselves also help out in areas whenever and
wherever possible.
For instance, a recent addition to the club premises are the rock
garden terraces, which the members built for only RM4,000 instead of the
normal fee of RM10,000.
Among the other club projects included the upgrading of the changing
room and store-room, tiling of the hall, regular upkeep of the field,
installing lights for basketball courts, clearing up surrounding areas of
the field, renovating the caretaker's house.
Apart from soccer, the other activities offered by UKRC are basketball,
a junior soccer development programme, karaoke sessions, Indian classical
dancing, line dancing and yoga lessons as well as quarterly medical camps.
Rest assured that when the same 9s tournament is held next year, there
will be further improvements to the club facilities from the funds raised
this year.
What a small community club can do, many sports associations with
better means and bigger budgets have failed to equal, all because there
are many with personal agendas.
The fact the UKRC land, approved for recreational use in 1958 but yet
to be gazetted to be under the club's control even though they have done
so much, should see the matter resolved once and for all by the
authorities concerned, so that such a strong community presence is not
The spirit at UKRC is similar to the one I experienced at the Maxis-NPC
Merdeka Rally for Humanity, where 66 cars and 25 bikers turned up to
support the cause.
Though the participants did not expect anything in return, they gave
their time and support to bring cheer - through gifts and donations - to
some 100 orphans from five homes.
The bikers, especially, braved the heavy rain to not only complete the
seven-hour rally, but also risked their lives to act as marshals in
guiding the cars.
It is such spirit and UKRC's, which offer hope to the sporting culture
to strive again, and hopefully, this will ignite the spark to seek
excellence in the field of sports in the near future.
But for as long as many still practice politicking in the world of
sports, have personal agendas, undermine one another, back-bite, are
selfish and are always looking for opportunities to manipulate situations
for their own gains, sports will continue to suffer and be dragged
through mud and slime time and again.

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