Thursday, December 10, 2009

Two sides to the coin

It is indeed heartening to hear that there are 40 back-up athletes in 12 disciplines among the contingent of 348 for the Laos Sea Games which officially started yesterday.

It is about time that the Sea Games is used to expose our young athletes and the obsession of winning medals at the Games take a back seat.

For far too long, the emphasis has been to send the country's best athletes to the Games and in some sports like badminton, squash, tenpin bowling, lawn bowl to name a few sports who have made their mark at the international sports arena, to have their athletes competing at the Sea Games level is a mockery.

With no disrespect for the Sea Games, it is the lowest level of Games and it will be better used to groom athletes for the future. Over the years, it has served its purpose for the best athletes in the region to compete and improve. The time has come for it to be used as a Games for development for the region.

In Malaysia, all this while when national sports associations wanted to include fringe athletes who missed the Olympic Council of Malaysia's (OCM) qualification mark for the Games - normally at least a third placing from the previous Games - were not allowed to send their athletes.

The only way these associations could send them was under 'B' category, where they bear the cost of sending these athletes, but will be reimbursed if they return with medals.

While OCM's stand could be understood for reasons like some associations jumping on the bandwagon to send undeserving or unqualified athletes in the name of development, maybe a separate criteria could have been outlined to allow the legitimate junior or back-up athletes who are future to compete.

After all, OCM's role as the guardian of sports in the country, is to promote sports and assist national associations to reach the highest level of excellence, especially through development.

Maybe, finance was the setback for OCM in their stance.

This is where the National Sports Council (NSC) comes into the picture. They are the government agency to assist sports in the country through financial aid and providing sports facilities.

But NSC seemed to have moved away from its initial direction and seem to have taken on more than they can chew. (Read here to get a clearer picture of sports in Malaysia)

For the Laos Games, the 40 athletes have been sent by NSC under the Pelapis (Back-up) Programme. Obviously, NSC have borne the cost for these athletes.

One wonders, why NSC had not extended their help when national associations - the custodians and experts for their respective sports - had wanted to to send their back-up athletes all these years.

But now, when they are sending their own back-up athletes, the funds are flowing.

It must be stressed here, that there are no qualms about the exposure being given to the future athletes.

The only issue here is why the double standards.

Did OCM have any issues about the number of back-up athletes going for the Sea Games without meeting the qualifying mark? Or it did not matter, as long as it was paid for.

Then there are rumblings among some associations over NSC's role in developing the "future athletes."

The more established and stronger associations put their foot down with the Pelapis programme, where they insist they work hand-in-hand, as they are the governors and experts in their respective sports.

Then there are other national sports associations who have just allowed NSC to take over their development role, as a matter of convenience.

Finally there are a few associations who are loggerheads with NSC over the programme accusing the latter of taking over the development role and having stronghold over their athletes because of the power of money.

There is another area which has caused some rumblings among the national sports associations where they claim that when they put up plans for development, their programmes go through stringent process and more often than not, are not granted the full amount requested or sometime not at all.

These associations are now questioning, on who vets through all the proposals put up for the Pelapis programme and gives approval for the huge amount of money spent.

If it is NSC themselves who approve the budget, then where is the check and balance. In all probability, NSC will say that the Ministry of Youth and Sports are the ones who approve their budget or the budget comes from the Ministry itself. In this case both being government bodies, there should be much hassle in the release of funds.

The next question that some of these associations are asking is whether NSC are qualified to handle the various sports programme, when the guardians and the experts of the sports, are the national associations themselves.

In all fairness to NSC, probably some national associations themselves have to be blamed for not working closely with NSC or engaging them. Other sports associations have neglected their development role that their sports have deteriorated to a low ebb, that NSC had to step in.

Whatever it is, the issue needs to be addressed before it is becomes full blown and a controversy arises.

The idea to have a proper development programme is indeed good and timely. But all parties concerned, especially the governors of the respective sports, should be engaged and working together with NSC in harmony. NSC on the other hand, should keep tab on their boundaries of direct involvement with the sports.

It is said in the NSC website that it had taken the drastic action to set up the back-up athletes' programme, as it was proposed by the Minister of Youth and Sports this year.

Under the programme there are three categories namely the National Back-up squad who are considered the best athletes who have a chance to break into the elite squad in the near future. These athletes train full time and will be based at the NSC and will be given an opportunity to compete in the Sea Games for a maximum of two Games, before they are expected to graduate to the elite squad.

Then there is the Regional back-up squad where the best youth athletes from the States train at two regional centres in Penang and Johor respectively.

And the final category is the State back up squad where development of specific sports for athletes from the age of 13-21 are conducted with 5 to 8 sessions a week, with the hope to see athletes from this group move on to the Regional and National back-up squads.

The various sports under the various categories and the athletes are the Laos Sea Games are as follows:

NATIONAL BACK-UP SPORTS Badminton, Cycling, Archery, Shooting, Weightlifting, Swimming, Artistic Gymnastics, Gymrama, Athletics, Lawn Bowl, Karate, Squash, Tenpin Bowling, Yachting, Taekwando, Hockey (M), Boxing, Fencing, Judo, Table Tennis, Wushu, Sepak Takraw, Cricket, Golf, Silat, Tennis, Soccer, Hockey (W), Basketball, Snooker and Billiard

REGIONAL BACK-UP SPORTS Cycling, Archery, Weightlifting, Athletics, Karate, Gymnastics, Boxing

STATE BACK-UP SPORTS Badminton, Cycling, Archery, Shooting, Weightlifting, Diving, Swimming, Artistic Gymnastics, Gymrama, Athletics, Lawn Bowl, Squash, Tenpin Bowling, Yachting, Boxing, Fencing, Judo, Silat, Sepak Takraw, Wushu, Karate,


1 Mohd. Saufik b. Ahmad (+ 105 kg)
2 Arisha Farra @ Catherine bt. Erwin (75 kg)


3 Sannatasah Saniru
4 Tee Jing Yi


5 Nurul Ahmar bt. Badeuzzaman (Criterium & Mass Start)
6 Nur Ain Bte Malek
7 Muhammad Aim Mohd Fauzi (Mountain Bike)


8 Mohd. Fakhrul Izzat b. Afandi (66 kg)
9 Nik Norbaizura Nik Azman (57 kg)


10 Nagatheeban A/L Govindasamy (Kumite)
11 Teagarajan A/L Kunasakaran (Kumite)
12 Pavitern Prataban (Kumite)
13 Loganesha Rao Ramaraw (Kumite)
14 Kam Kah Sam Kata
15 Leong Tze Wai Kata
16 Chong Chew Teng Kata

Table Tennis

17 Muhd. Ashraf Haiqal b. Muhd. Rizal
18 Ho Ying


19 Mohd. Zubair b. Muhammad Rifle
20 Mohd. Norahimim b. Abd. Halim Rifle
21 Nur Ayuni Farhana bt. Abd. Halim Rifle


22 Mathialagan A/L Subramaniam 800 / 1500 m
23 Mohd. Hafizuddin b. Sahadan Lompat Bergalah
24 Noor Amira bt. Mohd. Nafiah Lompat Jauh / Kijang
25 Ganthi Manthi A/P Kumarasamy 800 / 1500 m
26 Muhammad Idris Zakaria 100,200
27 Yuvaraaj Paneerselvam 400m. 800m
28 Norliana Mohd Rusni Jalan kaki
29 Cynthia Maghing 100m, 200m
30 Abdul Azlan Samsudin 400m Berpagar
31 Siti Zubaidah Adabi 4 x 100m, Lompat jauh
32 Nurul Faizah Asma Mazlan 4 x 400m


33 Mohd. Fuad b. Mohamad Ridzuan 45kg
34 Mohd. Fairus Azwan b. Abdullah 75kg

Pencak Silat

35 Siti Rahmah Mohd Naser


36 Kevan Cheah Peng Heng (Taijiquan)
37 Yeap Wai Kin Duilian (Weapons) )
38 Fong Chui Theng (Changquan)
39 Khaw Jing Yee (Changquan)


40 Darrel Jossie (Finweight)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It is good to see back up athletes given an opportunity to prove their talent internationally.We must have more young ones groomed for such events.

Sports need money to run activities but who monitors or supervises that the fund is efficiently managed is indeed a difficult task to determine. We have seen and heard some "amazing" senarios of money being accidentally lost by some sports teams......on trips abroad....

back up athletes form the big base of selection and it is essential that there is a constant inflow of them. HOWEVER good coaches and managers must keep a database of the performances of their athletes to justify their eligibility to represent the nation internationally.

Documentation of their succeess must be appreciated by the relevant authorities and it is only logical at this century to realise that EVERYTHING requires money to run efficiently.

The problem to day in sports is that there is lack of people with integrity and that makes the system weak and parents do lose hope in the system. Parents contribution is extremely important in developing the child's talent. Coaches who have identified and trained these talents must pass these talents onto NSC. They must carry on looking out for fresh ones and just not stop there.

The elite are a different class altogether- their expectation is different and their needs are different.We have seen and heard the extent their demands some sports just because they think they are " Celebrities".The drama sets in when their demands are not met....after all Malaysia wants them to be professionals....but fails to see the repercussions .....