Saturday, November 22, 2014

Yes, Minister


Level Field

 Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin is spot-on in launching the Talent Identification and Development (MyTID) System – a move to stop the declining standard of Malaysian sports.
Khairy was also responsible for the National Football Development Programme (NFDP) launched by the Prime Minister himself earlier this year.
One cannot go wrong by emphasising sports development because if implemented correctly and monitored well with the right people in charge, it guarantees not only results in the future but also the availability of a big pool of talent to choose from.
The only problem with development is that there are no immediate results. It requires tons of hard work, patience and time to bear fruit. It is also a thankless job.
Khairy has also done well by not only recognising the differences between the stakeholders of the programme, namely the National Sports Council (NSC), National Sports  Institute (NSI) and the Ministry of Education  (MoE), but asked them to work together to ensure the success of MyTID.
He sees, rightly, clubs as the backbone of sports development and has said that part of the 2015 budget for the latter will go towards spurring the involvement of clubs and strengthening their roles in the whole process.
MyTID is the biggest-ever grassroots development programme so far, launched with a RM34 million budget and an ambitious target to see some 100,000 pupils from 1,500 schools screened by the end of next year. This will be broadened to 500,000 pupils from 7,000 schools by 2019.
MyTID is probably the best thing to happen to Malaysian sports when it is declining at such an alarming rate, no thanks to the apathy of many national sports associations.
The plans all look good on paper, but the million-ringgit question is that whether they will survive the test of time and will they be properly managed?
There have been previous talent identification programmes and as confirmed by Khairy, there was a RM3 million allocation for them. He revealed that less than 1% of those identified by the previous programmes were absorbed into the back-up training programme.
So, what will be different this time around?
Yes, the good minister has said no more excuses this time around, especially as his reputation is at stake. But in Malaysian sports, we have short memory. We launch programmes in a big way, make strong recommendations whenever there is a debacle, come up with all sorts of suggestions and everyone has something to say. But when it comes to execution, we fail miserably.
Every time a new issue arises, old matters that were raised take a backseat and more often than not, are forgotten.
To recap, just last month there was a hue and cry about the Incheon Asian Games debacle and all sorts of recommendations came up. Prior to that, it was the Glasgow Commonwealth Games fiasco, which was the highlight of the month. Then along came the Lee Chong Wei saga and everything is now quiet on all the other fronts.
Next, all attention will probably shift to the Sea Games in Singapore in seven months and since it is just across the Causeway, everyone will want a piece of the action in the name of development, exposure, minimum cost factor and wanting to study how Singapore organises the Games as we are the next host.
The plan to be more careful in selecting the athletes, raise the qualifications for the Games, exercise prudence and all other matters discussed after the earlier two debacles will probably go out the window.
Will the same thing happen to MyTID after its novelty wears off?
Already, there are some grumblings about the NFDP, which is under the stewardship of former international Lim Teong Kim. The coaches are unhappy and there are questions about the selection process and whether the right people are handling the job, especially at grassroots level.
My biggest concern is, what will happen to MyTID and NFDP if Khairy is moved to a different ministry in a Cabinet reshuffle?
We have had so many programmes die prematurely once the minister who initiated them left office. Remember Talent Identification, Sports for All, Sports Culture and Sports Industry?
The next minister usually does not carry on his predecessor’s programmes because he wants to leave his own legacy behind.
Khairy has said the NFDP is a national agenda but he must make sure that it is gazetted and does not disappear after he leaves the ministry.
The civil servants in the ministry, NSC and NSI themselves are equally guilty as every time a new minister comes on board, they abandon the old programmes.
One wonders what happens to all the pre-approved budget – is it channelled into different and new programmes or is it written off?
A lot of money has been allocated for sports development this time around and let us hope that it is used wisely for the programmes initiated by Khairy.
Otherwise, it will be more public money down the drain and sports in the country remaining in the doldrums.

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

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