Saturday, July 11, 2015

National bodies need to buck up


Level Field  

All is not well with the majority of the national sports associations (NSAs), as statistics from the Sports Commissioner’s office show.
For starters, the statistics show that in 2012 and 2013, 28 and 24 cases respectively were brought to the attention of the Sports Commissioner’s Office.
Of these, 57% in 2012 and 54% in 2013 were related to the validity of the associations’ annual or biennial general meetings. The other cases involved the status of officer bearers, their abuse of power, membership issues and athlete problems.
On Wednesday, Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin after witnessing the partnership renewal between Astro Arena and Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM), lambasted the national associations, ordering them to be more accountable when it comes to spending the corporate funds they receive.
The partnership intended to provide media coverage for the council’s affiliates is to run from this year to 2020, will see 13 NSAs share a RM2 million sponsorship.
Astro in the initial agreement two years ago had earlier given RM 1 million.
Moreover, despite huge government funding, the availability of ultra-modern facilities and assistance for the associations and athletes from the National Sports Council and National Sports Institute, achievements have been far from satisfactory.
More often than not, it is poor management, neglect of athletes’ welfare and lack of development work that is to blame.
However, these problems are not new to the sports fraternity.
Despite efforts by the Olympic Council of Malaysia, the Sports Commissioner’s Office and the Ministry of Sports to train the NSAs on how to manage sponsorship matters and themselves, they continue to run their affairs like amateurs.
In fact, some of the presidents are hardly in their office and sometimes don’t even attend regular meetings.
No professional is engaged to run these offices and the job is done by part-timers who usually have no clue about sports management.
For many of the officer bearers, it is all about the perks and their name on the management list.
Corporate sponsorship is not new to Malaysia with former sports minister Tan Sri Abdul Ghani Othman having introduced Rakan Sukan (Sports Partners) in 1994. Sadly, a majority of sponsors have severed their partnership with the NSAs because of poor relations and non-accountability.
Nevertheless, one NSA - the Malaysian Amateur Basketball Association (Maba) - has withstood the test of time and is still sponsored by Petronas.
Their relationship began in 1994 under Rakan Sukan and is today one of the programme’s most successful.
“Through this partnership, we have helped develop the sport at national, regional and international levels,” the national oil company says in a report.
“Many landmark achievements have been made in raising the standard of the game in Malaysia with the establishment of the Petronas-Maba basketball academy and the introduction of the Petronas Cup competition, an annual inter-state championship to promote basketball as a national sport.
“The Petronas-Maba basketball academy provides a valuable platform for nurturing young talent aged between 16 and 20. It scouts for talent within this age group at schools and district-level competitions organised nationwide by Maba and provides them with training.
“All academy students are given financial aid for studies up to college level to ensure that they receive a comprehensive education while they undergo training and participate in competitions.”
Two other success stories are IJM Plantations and Eagles Rugby Club in Sandakan and IJM and Cobra Rugby Club who marriage in sponsorship have worked well for both.
The problem with a number of NSAs that do have partners in sports is that they take their sponsors for granted and stop looking for other avenues of funding.
The Squash Racquets Association of Malaysia (SRAM), for example, is in a fix now because CIMB ceased to be the title sponsor of the Malaysia Open this year after having done it from 2005 to 2014.
CIMB now wants to focus fully on the CIMB National Junior Circuit.
The Malaysian Open is thus in danger of being cancelled as SRAM are finding it difficult to find a new sponsor.
In all fairness to SRAM, they managed the sponsorship well and have given their sponsor ample returns on investment, especially with world champion Nicol David in their fold.
If they look hard enough, SRAM should be able to find a replacement, although they would want to steer clear of another bank as CIMB is still involved at grassroots level in squash.
However, it will not speak well of SRAM if they resort to the Ministry of Sports to bail out them out as the latter already has its hands full.
Recently, the Malaysian Rugby Union (MRU) turned to the NSC to save their skin when they ran short of funds to host the Asian Rugby Football Union (ARFU) Division Two championship.
It may be harder to get sponsorship in these hard times but there are corporations out there that are prepared to support sports and get some tax exemption – that is, if the returns are substantial and the sponsorship is managed well.
But most of the troubled NSAs take the easy way out – they just wait for government support.
Maybe it is time the ministry pulled the plug on funding and taught the NSAs a lesson - swim or sink.
It should just work with the few well-managed NSAs that are transparent, don’t depend on handouts and, most importantly, produce results.
What is sad is that even with handouts, some NSAs make a mess of managing their sport, giving it a bad name.
Sometimes, one has to be cruel to be kind.

No comments: