Still in the dark ages
Friday, July 04, 2014 - Malay Mail
ARE Malaysian sports facilities any better for all the money pumped into them over the years? I don’t think so.
On the surface, facilities seem to have improved by leaps and bounds, but there are many areas that have not kept up with the times.
I had not covered football matches for some time, but the last three months took me to a number of stadiums in the country that I used to frequent on my beat as a football writer.
While some of the stadiums have seen vast improvement in appearance with the quality of their pitches raised to international standard, there still remain the same old problems. I could not believe I was encountering them after a good 30 years of covering Malaysian football.
My bone of contention is the media facilities at most of the stadiums.
I remember the days when we used to cover matches from the sidelines of the pitches, seated on a few metal chairs placed under the blazing sun and running for cover when it rained.
There was one stadium where the media had to sit between the fans in the main stand.
They literally blew air down our necks.
We had special light stands on the table which we used to switch on when the lights in the main stand were switched off the moment the match began.
In other stadiums, we just had to find a place among the fans.
In the few stadiums that had media rooms, there were few or broken chairs most of the time with a layer of dust covering the tables and the glass windows, which we had to wipe clean to see the pitch outside. There were no phone lines, so we had to rush to public phones to read our stories to the desk back in the newsroom.
I thought I had seen the last of those days, but I felt I was in a time tunnel at the Perak Stadium last week.
It was the same old inadequate media room from the past. The only difference was that we had to share it with group of ladies, who, I later found out, were there to count the day’s ticket collection.
The room had no Internet service, but we had our mobile phones. Unfortunately, the stadium was in an area that was not served by any mobile service provider. Talk about being in the 21st century!
So I had no choice but to read my story over a land line at halftime and at the end of the game. It brought back memories of the late 1970s and early 1980s.
And to add insult to injury, a start-list was not available. When we went down to the secretariat to ask for the list, we drew a blank — they did not know what a start-list was.
Finally, we managed to get a copy that we had to share. Also, there was no media officer around as stipulated by FAM requirements.
Didn’t FAM instruct the state FAs to provide proper facilities for the media at all football venues? Maybe the Sportswriters Association of Malaysia (SAM) should take it upon itself to visit all the venues before a season starts to ensure adequately equipped media facilities are available.
Anyway, this is just the tip of the iceberg.
It is indeed embarrassing that Malaysian football, after four years of semi-professionalism from 1989 and full professionalism from 1994 — that’s two decades — still cannot overcome such basic issues.
Where does all the money allocated annually for upgrading work and hosting the Malaysia Games go?
The problem with our sporting facilities is the funds are for building and upgrading, not maintenance, which is so crucial for the upkeep of the stadiums.
It is time to remedy the situation, especially with sports in the country aiming for par excellence. If we cannot get the basics right, let’s not waste any more money or time on setting Malaysian sports on the right course.
TONY MARIADASS is a sports journalist with
more than three decades of experience and
is passionate about local sports. He can be
reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter