Saturday, August 22, 2015

Malaysian sports at crossroads


Where are the sports administrators who are supposed to chart the course of Malaysian sports and lead sportsmen and women with utmost integrity and professionalism?
Recent developments on the local sports scene when it comes to election time have been less than healthy and are giving sports a bad name.
How will athletes have faith in their administrators if these people resort to mud-slinging and discrediting each other just to win votes?
Arguing at meetings in the rowdiest manner, disrupting proceedings and staging walkouts, discrediting reputable officials and bringing sports associations to disrepute, and even challenging the results of elections – all in an attempt to wrest power – herald a cloudy future for sports in this country.
Now everybody seems to be an expert and even those who have no background in sports or a track record are aiming for high positions at the national sports associations.
Of late, we have seen disputes at the Malaysian Billiard and Snooker Federation, Taekwondo Malaysia, Malaysian Athletics Federation, Malaysian Tenpin Bowling Congress and now at the mother of all associations in the country – the Olympic Council of Malaysia – who will be holding their annual general assembly (AGA) tomorrow morning.
Granted, elections in sports must be a democratic process but when underhanded tactics, backbiting and money politics are employed, the whole things turns ugly.
Mutual respect and adherence to rules and regulations have gone out the window. Fair play, which is a pillar of sports, has been blatantly disregarded.
The three core values of the Olympic Movement, which inspire us on an individual and organisational level, are:
Excellence: This value stands for giving one's best, on the field of play or in the professional arena. It is not only about winning, but also about participating, making progress against personal goals, striving to be and to do our best in our daily lives and benefiting from the healthy combination of a strong body, mind and will.
Friendship: This value encourages us to consider sport as a tool for mutual understanding among individuals and people from all over the world. The Olympic Games inspire humanity to overcome political, economic, gender, racial or religious differences and forge friendships in spite of those differences.
Respect: This value incorporates respect for oneself, one's body, for others, for the rules and regulations, for sport and the environment. Related to sport, respect stands for fair play and for the fight against doping and any other unethical behaviour.
But when officials choose to ignore all these principles and promote themselves with ulterior motives, the last thing on their minds is the welfare of athletes and the promotion of sports.
Can Malaysian sports be saved from going in the wrong direction? It all depends on the wisdom of the officials and their desire to keep sports sane.
They cannot be blinded by promises that are unrealistic and pick election candidates simply because they are associates. Instead, they should look for people who are experienced, dedicated and tenacious.
Already, despite being praised by the International Olympic Council (IOC) on their hosting of a recent session, OCM’s image has been tarnished by one of its high ranking officials who has been suspended from all Olympic Council of Asia’s events and activities with immediate effect for his depredatory comments made on a group chat which was visible to IOC members.
We certainly cannot be seen to have irresponsible officials leading our sports associations.
Without doubt, a lot of work needs to be done to save Malaysian sports but it has to be a concerted effort with one goal, one direction and one vision.
It is hoped then that the delegates at the elections tomorrow will vote wisely because the future of Malaysian sports is at stake. They need to be led by respectable and level-headed officials who want to hold office for the sake of sports.

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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