Friday, September 23, 2005

WALKING THE TALK (23/09/2005 - The Malay Mail)

Publication : MM
Date : 23/09/2005

IT'S about time to walk the talk in Malaysian sports.
Otherwise, accept the fact that Malaysians may have the knowledge about
the ills befalling sports in the country with the solutions in hand. But
it's a big flop on the implementation aspect.
Having attended two seminars in a week, with both related to sports
culture, development and improving the standards of Malaysian sports, I
have come to the conclusion we are not short of ideas on this issue.
The first seminar was organised by the Olympic Council of Malaysia
(OCM) and the other by the Malaysian Association for Physical Education,
Sports Science and Fitness.
Having discussed the first seminar in last week's column, and sharing
my disappointment on how the right people were absent, the second was no
different with the "right people" (policy- and decision-makers) also
shying away.
That the seminar on the National Sports Policy did not attract the
"right people" only bore testimony to the fact that the majority are not
interested in raising the standard, but only want to be involved in
sports for their own personal agenda.
It was the seventh seminar on the policy held since 1994, and I left
the half-day seminar, feeling that like the other six - it did not serve
any purpose in changing the course of Malaysian sports.
Do not get me wrong. It was an excellent seminar with Datuk Dr Ahamad
Sipon, director-general of Education, who spoke on "High-quality
physical education and schools sports in Malaysia, the way forward",
hitting the nail on development of sports in the country.
And what Ahamad mentioned was virtually a fool-proof way to get
Malaysian sports soaring to great heights.
He pointed out that Education Minister Datuk Hishammuddin Hussein was
dead-serious on meeting his department's programme's target of 95 per
cent participation by students from ages five to 18 in high quality
physical education and schools sports by 2010.
But whether this becomes a reality, or just plain planning, is left to
be seen.
To achieve the goal, the Education Ministry are supposed to focus on
two key areas - Sports for All (SALL) and Sports for High Performance
For SALL, they are looking at improving school facilities, increasing
the pupil participation rate and involving more teachers in PE (physical
education) and sports.
For SHIP, they are to focus on co-organising competitions and the
development of the two sports schools (Bukit Jalil and Bandar Penawar).
The strategies for success based on the two concepts included under
SALL are:
* PROFESSIONAL development of PE teachers;
* IMPROVING school programmes for PE and sports;
* IMPROVING curriculum for PE and sports;
* INCREASE participation of pupils in PE and sports;
* SCHOOLS as part of the local community; and
* IMPROVING initial teacher training in relation to PE and sports.
And under SHIP, the strategies for success are:
* SHARING of best practices and developing research in PE and sports;
* ENGAGING the services of sports specialists.
As for the combination of SALL and SHIP, they are:
* IMPROVING facilities for PE and sports; and,
* LEADERSHIP in PE and School Sports with the focus on developing the
eight core sports (badminton, football, hockey, bowling, gymnastics,
squash, athletics and aquatics).
While Ahamad must be commended for his lecture, it was sad that those
present were not State Education Department directors, school headmasters
and all those responsible for implementing all the aforementioned points.
Directives probably have been issued to these officials, but whether
they are going to be implemented effectively is left to seen.
And to make matters worse, Ahamad had to leave immediately after his
address to attend to urgent matters.
As such, he could not listen to the responses from Dr Ramlan Aziz
(director-general of National Sports Council), Associate Prof Dr Teoh
Heng Teong (director, Sports Centre, Universiti Malaya) and Sheikh
Kamaruddin Sheikh Hassan, (senior physical/health education lecturer)
from Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM).
Teoh and Sheikh Kamaruddin, in particular, reiterated that as long as
implementation of programmes does not take place, everything will be back
to square one. And the duo cited many such examples.
Though Dr Zuber Hassan, a deputy director at the Ministry of Education,
was present, whether he got the right message conveyed by the respondents
to the director-general, is not known.
That the hall was packed with students, with a majority of them
chit-chatting away and not showing any interest in the discussion, made
it even more sad.
That the national sports associations were not present to absorb the
ideas being offered and ensure they do their part to see them implemented
by the schools, further underscored the apathy towards development of
sports in the country.
I hope I will be proven wrong that what ever plans revealed will not
just remain on paper. This is because I believe if they do come to
fruition, they will be the long-awaited answer to reviving Malaysian
It may take more than the five years targeted by the Ministry, but if
it is effectively executed by all concerned,we are bound to reap rewards.
Whether this becomes a reality, or merely talk, only time will tell.

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