The general belief that Universities are a graveyard for sports, is fast becoming a thing of the past in Malaysia.
Last weekend, the Minister of Higher Education, Datuk Seri Mohd Khaled Nordin announced that RM10 million is allocated to higher learning institutions under its programme to develop sports among undergraduates.
The announcement appeared in The Sunday Times under the heading - Varsities get RM 10 million to nurture athletes (read here)
Sports Excellence Centres at universities nationwide are already in place and the funds allocated was to develop selected sports in a systematic method and provide further education for students athletes in order to create "thinking athletes".
The programme was in line with the ministry's goal to have 30 per cent of the country's athletes to be from higher-learning institutions.
Eight universities have already been selected as Sports Excellence Centres which each focusing on a specific sport.
The eight Sports Excellence Centres are Universiti Malaya (netball), Universiti Sains Malaysia (swimming), Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (cricket), Universiti Putra Malaysia (rugby), Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (rowing), Universiti Teknologi Mara (football), Universiti Utara Malaysia (golf) and Universiti Malaysia Sabah (taekwondo).
Besides the eight universities, other institutions which had the potential to become centres for sporting excellence had also been given the status of Focus Sport Centre.
There are 18 higher-learning institutions with the Focus Sport Centre status
Out of the RM10 million being allocated by the ministry for sports development this year, about RM7.2 million was for the Sports Excellence Centres and RM3.6 million for the Focus Sport Centres.
All well and good and kudos to the Ministry of Higher Learning.
But my question is whether a proper study was made before naming the sports to be focused in each particular higher learning institution.
I know for a fact that in 2006 an in-depth study was done by Prof Rabindarjeet Singh who was then with the National Institute of Sports (NSI) on sports adoption by Universities.
That under the current Sports Excellence Centres that Universiti Teknologi Mara has been named for soccer is baffling.
What happens to the Chinese, Indian and others who play soccer in the higher institutions.
This alone gives rises to queries if a proper study was actually made.
Several other universities named to be Sports Excellence Centres with their respective sports is also questionable.
Hopefully, a good project will not go down the drain just because there was no proper study before naming the universities to focus on the sports.