Friday, May 23, 2014

Let the Games begin on the right note

Friday, May 23, 2014 - Malay Mail
THE 17th Malaysia Games (Sukma) starts in Perlis tomorrow, but there are signs all is not well.
One would expect the organisers to have everything under control, but there are unresolved issues.
Yes, Perlis are hosting it for the first time and the National Sports Council (NSC) should ensure everything runs smoothly.
NSC, as the manager of the Games, collaborates with the State Sports Council, the Olympic Council of Malaysia, the sports Ministry and the Sports Commissioner’s office on this.
The Malaysia Games began in 1986 in Kuala Lumpur. They were first held biennially but has become an annual affair since 2012.
It’s an arena for young people to parade their talent, for states to showcase their athletes and a yardstick to measure the athletes’ progress through development programmes.
Khairy visiting the aquatics centre in Perlis recently and is confident it will be ready before the Games. — Filepic

The Games also provide the hosting states a chance to equip themselves with or upgrade sporting facilities and an opportunity for state officials to gain valuable experience in organising something of that stature.
But there are negative aspects to the Games as well. Each year, the same problems crop up, including the pinching of athletes from other states, poor management of certain sports, sponsorship wrangles, violence or boycotts when not satisfied with the results and using money to ‘bribe’ young athletes to win medals.
But above all, the Games are a hunting ground for contractors because new facilities have to be built or upgraded. While in the past such work was handled by the Public Works Department, these days it is tendered to private contractors. And not all of them have delivered on their promise.
The aquatics and badminton stadiums at the Kangar Sports Complex were supposed to have been ready last Thursday, but checks revealed neither were.
Perlis Menteri Besar Azlan Man and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin then said the stadiums will be ready before the Games begin.
The question is, would there be enough time to get the Certificate of Fitness? While all indications are that badminton will be held at the chosen venue, aquatics may be held in Alor Star, Kedah.
Leaving such a key decision to the last minute does not augur well for the reputation of the Games and would be unfair to the swimmers.
Then there are the rewards awaiting the winners. Is encouraging them to perform for money the right culture to instil in them at such a young age? What about pride and honour?
I am not against rewarding athletes, but aren’t scholarships, sporting equipment, better coaches, career development opportunities and placing monetary rewards in trust funds better options?
For the record, some of the states are offering RM6,000 for a gold medal, RM5,000 for silver and RM2,000 for bronze.
The Games have so far been dominated by four states — Selangor, which have won eight overall titles, defending champion Terengganu (four), Sarawak (three), and Kuala Lumpur (one).
It would be good to see other states being more competitive but that may not happen overnight. There must be emphasis on development programmes throughout the year, not just before the Games.
Let’s just hope that at the end of this outing in Perlis, there will be more reasons to cheer than complain.

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