Friday, May 2, 2014

Please lead by example

Friday, May 02, 2014 - Malay Mail
Najib with the NFDP blueprint, April 10, 2014. ― Picture by


THE sports authorities in the country had better walk the talk so that national sports associations toe the line and manage their associations prudently.
The Sports Ministry and National Sports Council (NSC) are the two main bodies who assist, fund and drive sports and national associations.
While it is an open secret the ministries’ yearly funds have been cut and they have been told to spend wisely, the Sports Ministry and NSC have sometimes been accused of being lavish in their spending.
The different Sports Ministers have had different projects to mark their tenure in the hope of leaving a legacy.
But more often than not, when a new person helms the ministry, previous programmes are either shelved or left to die a natural death.
In the process, critical remarks and reports collect dust.
Even more alarmingly, funds have been wasted that could have been put to good use for development.
Two years ago, the government, after Malaysia’s football’s success at the Sea Games and AFF Suzuki Cup, announced that RM10 million will be allocated to the National Football Development Fund.
It was later announced that RM6.5 million had already been disbursed to the FA of Malaysia (FAM) for grassroots development activities that year.
Then Deputy Sports Minister Datuk Razali Ibrahim said the expenditure, comprising 65 per cent of the RM10 million, included the salaries of 112 coaches, equipment and costs of organising junior tournaments.
He added that there was an additional RM10 million for 2012 under the new budget, but there are no assurances they will continue to receive this amount in the future.
A committee was formed with representatives from the Sports and Education Ministries, the NSC, FAM and other stakeholders that was tasked with ensuring Malaysia’s qualification for the 2019 World Youth Cup with some 1,600 children under the age of 12 training at 14 state centres under 112 coaches and former national player Lim Kim Choon supervising the programme.
Earlier, then sports minister Datuk Ahmad Shabery Cheek had said the ministry had picked English Premier League club Everton as the consultant to study the needs and development structure of Malaysian football.
He also said the ministry would launch a campaign to collect funds as it needed at least RM50 million to implement the programme.
Later at a ceremony, the minister received RM40,000 from Astro, 100Plus, Aiman Motor Sdn Bhd and Berjaya Group as contribution to the fund.
It is learnt that two delegations had gone to Everton in Goodison Park to finalise the programme and paid an initial payment for the programme.
Then there was a change of plans and Cardiff came into the picture with the 1Malaysia Cardiff City development programme and the Everton programme disappeared despite the club pursuing the matter as a deposit had been paid.
With no response, the Everton programme died a natural death, as did the deposit.
Now, under current Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, a fresh National Football Development Project (NFDP) has been implemented and leading it is another former national player, Lim Teong Kim, who was based in Bayern Munich. The NFDP was launched by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak in Gambang, Pahang.
Khairy announced his ministry had set aside RM20 million for the programme, covering mainly operational costs, while the Ministry of Education will bear the cost of maintaining the facilities and half the salaries for the coaches. It is not known yet how much funds MoE has set aside for the programme.
The Finance Ministry has contributed an additional cash amount of RM10 million to the programme.
As announced by the prime minister, this is a national agenda and it is hoped that if and when Khairy moves to another ministry, the NFDP will continue under the new minister.
It is also learnt that the disbanded Champions Youth Cup held during the tenure of another sports minister, Datuk Seri Azalina Othman, saw the authorities pay out a hefty sum in settlement for breach of a three-year contract of a RM17-million-a-year deal.
It is learnt that it would have been cheaper to just go ahead with the championship than to cancel it. Above all, access to world-class clubs would have done wonders for Malaysia football.
Penny wise, pound foolish? Money down the drain?
Another disturbing piece of news which surfaced is that the Sports Ministry is requesting 20 per cent of sponsorship money from vendors/organisers of programmes for the Malaysian International Youth Day this month. And this percentage is to come from sponsors sourced by the organisers themselves.
If this is true, an explanation is in order.
Yes, the ministry may request rent for usage of their facilities, but when others are organising the events for it, the least it could do is provide the facilities for free. In fact, the ministry should be subsidising these bodies to organise the event in Putrajaya which one million youth are expected to attend.
There are many other programmes, including the Malaysia Games, for which huge sums of money are spent without much ado that could be reduced drastically if prudence and accountability were exercised. So, can we have leadership by example for the good of Malaysian sport?

TONY MARIADASS is a sports journalist with
more than three decades of experience and
is passionate about local sports. He can be
reached at
Twitter handle: @tmariadass

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