Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Corporate sponsors key to bright future

Corporate sponsors key to a bright future

Friday, October 04, 2013 - The Malay Mail

CORPORATE entities should support the development of sports in Malaysia. More often than not, they back sports events that bring immediate returns to the sponsors or fund the more prominent sports associations.
True, development is a lengthy process and takes time to produce results. Any association with development programmes leaves a lasting legacy because when the programmes bear fruit, the money invested generates returns that are meaningful.
This week, a RM1 million cash injection into 17 national sports associations (NSAs) was announced as part of a collaboration between Astro and the Olympic Council of Malaysia. This will also see the respective sports benefit t from coverage and promotions through the 24-hour sports channel Astro Arena.
Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin described the deal as the start of a brighter future for local sports and urged more similar contributions from corporate entities.
Corporate-sponsored sports associations is nothing new in Malaysia. This was the reason former sports minister Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman introduced Rakan Sukan in 1994.
Sadly, many of the NSAs have seen their partnership severed because of poor relations with the sponsors, who demand reports on how the sponsorship money, in some cases as much as RM1 million, was spent.
After all, these organisations are accountable to their boards and owners for every sen that goes out of their books.
However, one association — the Malaysian Amateur Basketball Association (Maba) — have stood the test of time and are still part of Rakan Sukan. And here is why Petronas is still their partner.
“Petronas’ longstanding partnership with Maba began in 1994 under the national ‘Rakan Sukan’ programme and is today one of the programme’s most successful partnerships. Through this partnership, we have helped develop the sport at national, regional and international levels,” the national oil company says in a report on the partnership.
“Many landmark achievements have been made in raising the standard of the game in Malaysia with the establishment of the Petronas-Maba basketball academy and the introduction of the Petronas Cup competition, an annual inter-state championship to promote basketball as a national sport.
“The Petronas-Maba basketball academy provides a valuable platform for nurturing young talent aged between 16 and 20. It scouts for talent within this age group at schools and district-level competitions organised nationwide by Maba and provides them with training.
All academy students are given financial aid for studies up to college level to ensure that they receive a comprehensive education while they undergo training and participate in competitions.

MILLION RINGGIT DEAL: Khairy (second from right) together with Henry Tan, Astro Chief Operations Executive (right) and Tunku Imran Tuanku Jaafar, Olympic Council of Malaysia president, at the partnership signing ceremony between Astro and OCM on Tuesday — BERNAMApic
“In 2003, a 3-on-3 basketball competition was held at selected Petronas service stations to promote the sport directly to the local communities. The annual competition has become increasingly popular, drawing an overwhelming response from the public.”
CIMB is another corporation whose partnership with the Squash Racquet Association of Malaysia is thriving.
Recently, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak urged corporate bodies to continue to sponsor sporting events in the country because it was an effective investment in terms of promoting their brand and indirectly helped generate income for the country.
“The contribution from the corporate bodies should not be perceived as merely charity from them but should be looked at in terms of their commercial value,” he said.
Sure, the NSAs should look for corporate sponsors, but their priority should be long-term programmes. At the same time, corporates should target development programmes.
When the funds start flowing in, the NSAs must ensure their programmes work because the end results will show whether or not their efforts were earnest.
In 2005, the Cabinet Committee for Sports, chaired by the then deputy premier Najib, approved a RM193 million budget to revive the country’s sports culture. Of this, RM125 million was for sports at grassroots level — a clear indication of the direction the government was taking.
However, accountability is the essence of success and must be monitored closely.
With recent successes in the inaugural Asian Schools track and field championships in Kuantan, the national junior hockey team’s second placing in the Sultan of Johor Cup and Harimau Muda winning the Merdeka tournament, clearly, a focus on development and youth is the way to go for Malaysian sports.
TONY MARIADASS is the sports editor
of The Malay Mail. He can be reached

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