Thursday, April 30, 2015

Keep them eyes wide open

 Level Field  

The Ministry of Youth and Sports, the Stadium Board and National Sports Council should inventory the nation's sports facilities and the condition they are in before any new facilities or programmes are launched.
At the same time, the Ministry of Education should tot up the number of schools that have fields, their size and condition.
These figures will determine whether we are really striving to be a sporting nation or just paying lip service.
Recent random checks revealed that many existing sports facilities are in deplorable condition and poorly managed.
The stadiums at quite a few sports complexes are an eyesore while many of the multipurpose courts built for parliamentary constituencies four years ago are the worse for wear.
Among the complexes highlighted by the Malay Mail that beg for refurbishment are the Bertam Sports Complex in Kapal Batas, the Kuala Kubu Baru Sports Complex, the Padamaran Sports Complex and the Petaling Jaya Sports Complex.
The artificial turf at many places are worn out and only recently was an effort made to spruce up the Pantai hockey stadium and the Jalan Duta hockey stadium.
The fields at the National Football Development Programme centre in Gambang were neglected because of a supposed delay in the renewal of the field maintenance contractor's contract but they have since been restored.
Many of the stadiums or complexes built when the states host the Malaysia (Sukma) Games are also in bad shape. A swimming pool built in the middle of a padi field in Kedah now has water from the padi field seeping into it, the Batu Kawan stadium has cracks, is leaking and is hardly used while parts of the stadium in Terengganu have collapsed.
It could be the same sad story in the other states and the main reason for it all is that no budgets were made for maintenance when the facilities were built. Of course, there is also the shoddy workmanship.
The officers in charge of the complexes or facilities too are responsible for the poor conditions because of bad management or cost-cutting.

Then we have officers hold posts associations but do little to help or even execute with urgency approved plans.
In the case of Kuala Lumpur Rugby (KLR), permission was granted by the higher-ups in City Hall to make the Padang Merbok the official ground for city rugby and upgrading work, including the building of facilities such as a changing room, office space, a pavilion with seating and others to ensure international rugby tournaments can be hosted there, was supposed to have started but nothing has happened so far.
What we have is officials who are stifling the growth of sports or giving it a bad name because of their inadequacies.
Then we have public playing fields that are in equally appalling state while programmes are being launched for the rakyat to keep fit in gyms. For those who cannot afford the gym, the fields are the best solution to keep fit but if these are in a lousy state, where will they go for exercise?
Worse still, well-managed fields are being taken away in the name of development or for some ulterior motive. The Ulu Klang Recreation Club (UKRC) is one good example where the authorities have taken over its field, although UKRC is still fighting to keep what belongs to it. Since the coup, what used to be one of the best-kept club fields in the city has deteriorated because of lack of maintenance.
A public field that is just a stone’s throw from UKRC is neglected and poses a danger to its users, yet the authorities deemed it fit to acquire the UKRC field. 
On a positive note, early this year, the Ministry of Youth and Sports decided to set up community recreational and sports clubs in every parliamentary constituency in an effort to activate sports activity at grassroots level. 
This is in the final stage of being established and hopefully these clubs will be a healthy gathering place for youngsters and be fully utilised by them and well maintained. 
In the final analysis, we have to ensure whatever sports facilities we have in this nation are kept in good condition and do not fall into disrepair and become white elephants while we continue to harp on the lack of facilities.

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: @tmariadass​

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