Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Sawarak the sports hub

S’wak on road to excellence

KUCHING: If only the other states’ sports councils and state governments in the country can emulate Sarawak, Malaysian sports will be placed on a firm footing for the future.
Sarawak is the one State that just do not sit round waiting for handouts from the Federal Government. It initiated many sports programmes on their own.
Yes, they do get assistance from the Federal Government through the National Sports Council’s branch in Kuching, but it is the action-orientated and foresight of the State Sports Council headed by the Minister of the Social Development and Urbanisation Ministry, Dato Sri William Mawan, that has put sports programmes for Sarawak in place.
However, Sarawak’s sport prowess is not recent. Sarawak produced top level athletes as early as the 60s when Kuda Ditta became the first Sarawak-born athlete to qualify for the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games. Sarawak’s real prowess actually made its mark starting from the late 80s.
Much credit of Sarawak’s rise can be attributed to the hosting of Sukma for the first time here in 2002.
I was there personally as a guest of the Sarawak Sports Council for the pre-Games tour and I covered the Games eventually.
Sarawak emerged as Sukma champions for the first time that year and it was no surprise seeing all the work they had put into the preparation. It was one of the best Games organised and Sarawak raised the bar for the rest to emulate.
The Games also saw sports facilities in the State being improved tremendously. It was an essential ingredient for sports to grow.
Not only had Sarawak emerge as overall champions, but they did better by continuing with their commitment towards excellence in sports, especially at the youth level.
It cannot be denied that the setting up of the Sarawak State Sports Council under the National Sports Council Malaysia Act 1971, Schedule ll (amendments) 1979 which was officially established on October 10th 1985 by the Chief Minister of Sarawak, Pehin Sri Haji Abdul Taib Mahmud, was what set Sarawak sports in motion.
Among the Sarawak athletes who have done the State proud include the likes of Salomon Ismanto, Bujang Taha, Ballang Lasung, Gladys Chai, Albert Blassan, William Yeo and Suhali Yusuf.
Sarawak’s next generation of athletes emerged with the likes of Jong Nyan Chong, Jessica Lau. Lee Chiew Ha, Suhari Salem, Mazlan Wahid, Shafie Ali, Jackson Ting, and Jonathan Lim.
Among the more famous names to emerge in recent times include Watson Nyambek and Sapok Biki.
Watson has the proud record of having broken the national record for the 100m in 10.46 seconds set by Datuk Dr Mani Jegathesan, when he clocked 10.33s, while Sapok did the nation proud by becoming the first Malaysian ever to win a gold medal in boxing at the Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur in 1998.
Without doubt, Sarawak has an abundance of talent. The question is: who has the task of spotting these talents and nurturing them into international athletes.
Sarawak is certainly not sitting around doing nothing and hoping for talent to emerge.
They have always given sports priority and work hard at it with constant updating in systems, strategies, knowledge and improving sports facilities.
Having realised their initial vision to become a sports powerhouse by 2010, they are now embarking on the journey to the next level to become even more prominent by 2020.
The most recent effort is the appointment of the Australian Business Centre (ABC) as consultants for the State’s Sports Development Master Plan Study in their efforts to become a national and regional sports powerhouse by 2020.
The project involves formulating a comprehensive long-term strategic plan for the State immediately running up to 2020.
More importantly, the State has realised that the move to the next level requires a professional setup and management.
The development programme will involve 40 sports associations and that is a huge task at hand. It will be two prong-attack where besides strengthening the potential high performance sports and looking into proper management, maintenance, promotion and marketing of all existing Stadias and sporting facilities, the future is given equal emphasis with greater grassroots programes and participation, especially at schools.
Private sectors and non-governmental bodies will also be roped in for the State agenda and their involvement, especially in sponsorships will play a key role in the extent of the success of this vision.
Already sports like tenpin bowling and soccer have good programmes in place.
While a national training centre has been set up here for ten-pin bowling, with former national bowler, Jackson Ting in-charge, the Sarawak Football Association, have recently launched a long-term development programme involving schools.
Soccer also has former soccer coach and manager, Alan Vest, from Australia coming regularly as a part-time technical director, to conduct coaching courses to upgrade the level of coaches and impart the latest knowledge on the game.
Diving will also have a Centre of Excellence in place later this year and this recognition of Sarawak’s prowess in the sport.
In the past, Sarawak in their eagerness to upgrade sports in the State, have made some mistakes in engaging the wrong people, but they are certainly wiser and moving in the right direction now.
Other states had better watch out for Sarawak. It is already making an impact at national level in various sports.
The underlying factor in Sarawak’s success story is that they always have long-term plans and have more often than not, got the right people to chart their upward trend.
Sarawak certainly has the right attitude for sports and their persistence to excel, will certainly be seeing many more athletes from the Land of the Hornbills soar to greater heights and do the State and nation proud.

Keep up the good work, Sarawak. Then you will definitely be an example for many states to emulate!


Anonymous said...

Tony, I agree with you that other states have to watch out for Sarawak .

Politico-socially it is run differently that is why the system is structured and you will see changes flow easily.

Try flying into Sarawak and see the difference the moment you land there as when you enter into Sabah.

It is multifactoral issues- only people in the eastern states know How, When, Why , What and who runs the system.

There is a difference from the Land of Hornbills and the Land Below the Wind from the states in Peninsula malaysia.

There is a difference when you say " SATU Malaysia" in Peninsula Malaysia to SATU Malaysia IN Sarawak and SATU Malaysia in Sabah.

You have to really see it, to get the feeling and believe the sincerity of people in Sarawak and Sabah when they give their best to whatever work is entrusted to them......they try their best to produce results.....if given ADEQUATE SUPPORT and not take them for granted

rizal hashim said...

Very true, Tony, and Sarawak is lucky that they have leaders and implementors/characters to run the programmes. However much of Sarawak remains untapped. I'm sure there are many more unpolished gems to be uncovered...

The 1990 Sukma was remembered for Tania Bugo winning the Proton Saga and Linda Chin's prowess on the track. The knock-on effect was tremendous. Awang Mahyan and Datuk Taha Ariffin combined to create a football frenzy in Kuching, in recent years Bryan Nickson Lomas captured the imagination of the world media in athens 2004...we hope there will be many more feel good stories to emerge from Sarawak...and sabah..

Anonymous said...

Sarawak was offered to set up a sports school in the 8th Rancangan Malaysia. They insisted having it in Santubong which is swampy and it was found to be not feasible in terms of cost. For the 9th Rancangan Malaysia, Sarawak opted to have an "Seni" School and it is now operating in Pertrjaya.

There are merits and demerits of sports school. We can a long debate on this topic, but I shall not want to at this moment.

If Sarawak is the powerhouse of sports, this additional information is to add to your report. So when questions are asked, why was a sports school establish in Bukit Jalil and not in Gombak, why there is a sports school in Bandar Penawar?

Why in 9th Rancangan Malaysia, there were plans to have sports schools in Pekan, Perlis, Terengganu (reported as Terengganu did extremely well in the last SUKMA as host) and also n Sabah??? and not in Sarawak.

Darren said...

great story you have there mate.