Thursday, September 5, 2013

School sports off the beaten track

Veteran athletics coach Arunandy in despair over poor state of stadiums in KL

Thursday, September 05, 2013 The Malay Mail

IT was the pride and joy of schoolchildren to compete at stadiums not so long ago in Kuala Lumpur.
But today, stadia have become unaffordable, and to make matters worse, some of the venues are in poor conditions. Former national athletics coach S. Arunandy, who has been involved in the sport for 40 years, was disheartened at the poor conditions schoolchildren have to face today.
“Despite the general belief that athletes in the city have many stadiums to train in, it is just not true," said the 63-yearold, currently who is a sports teacher at Sri Garden.
Arunandy was particularly upset over the Kampong Pandan Sports Complex which has been existence for as long as he has been coaching.
"The Kampung Pandan Sports Complex was the haven for the development of athletics and many other sports. But today it is in a deplorable state.
“The former sports minister Datuk Sabery Cheek made a visit upon his appointment and he immediately instructed a facelift of the gymnasium.
“Now it has very sophisticated equipment and very well maintained. It’s open to the public at a very nominal price. But the track has been in deplorable condition for the last five years,” lamented Arunandy.
“Despite that, it has been the venue for many school sports and the home of the Kuala Lumpur track team. The new sports minister made a visit just a month ago. I hope he will do something about the track," said the Federal Territory Amateur Athletics Association coaching chairman.
“When it gets hot, the track starts to melt and the material sticks to your shoes. Last year the six-lane track became four. The contractor dug up the last two lanes to lay water pipes despite there being space outside the track.
“When I approached the contractor, he told me that he was only following instructions from the sports ministry.
“This sports complex is fully utilised, even on weekends. The staff at the complex are about the most supportive civil servants I have come across and work overtime to facilitate the bookings.
“However, they are shorthanded, making maintenance work very difficult. Twice a year, I top up the sand in the long jump pit. Even the ‘take-off ’ board was replaced by me. Early this year, I drew the lines on the track at my expense." Arunandy said Merdeka Stadium which was the pride of the nation, has become a white elephant.
"Twenty years ago, it was the main venue for all major events, be it athletics, football, concerts and even hockey (the 1975 World Cup was played there).
More than 100 schools held their annual sports there annually.
“In 2007, the 40,000 capacity stadium was reduced to its original 15,000 capacity. The track which was in deplorable condition, was removed and has not been relaid." Arunandy said the Bandar Tun Razak Stadium is another sad story.
“It has been closed since Aug 2011, and I understand that it will remain close for another two years due to repairs. It is unimaginable that it takes four years to repair a stadium which is currently in good condition.
“This stadium too, is another venue for school sports.”
Arunandy said the Bukit Jalil National Stadium, too used to be a venue for schools meets.
“Now the National Stadium pitch is constantly returfed and closed.
“The National Sports Council (NSC) stadium is basically a venue for training of the national athletes and the students of Bukit Jalil Sports School, as such it’s not possible to be used by schools or any other corporate bodies.”
“This is the pathetic truth about the stadiums in Kuala Lumpur. Under such circumstances, how can we produce champions even at the lowest level, let alone world beaters.”

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