Friday, November 6, 2015

Reignite the flickering ambers

 Reignite the flickering light of Malaysian Indian sports

As Hindus celebrate the Festival of Lights come Tuesday, they should ponder whatever happened to their role in Malaysian sports.
Not too long ago, Malaysian Indians played a key role as administrators and athletes in local sports. But today, their role has diminished and become somewhat irrelevant.
I am just underlining the fact that sports has taken a back seat in the Indian community and it is about time something was done about it.
Many factors have attributed to the lack of participation of Malaysian Indians in the sports arena, including a shift in priority to education, migration to the bright city lights from estates and rural areas, distractions of city life, lack of   Indian sports clubs and the diminishing number of Indian school teachers with a sports background.
Another reason could be a move two decades ago to eradicate race-based clubs in an effort to ensure that sports was developed on a multiracial platform.
Whether or not that was a good move is debatable but looking at the smaller number of Indians in sports, maybe it was a setback.
We still have the Malaysian Chinese Football Association, Malaysian Indian Football Association and Malaysian Malay Football Association organising their own tournaments that allow three players of another race to be registered for the competition.
However, the marginalisation of Malaysian Indians in school sports has seen a decline in their presence on the local scene.
It is no different when it comes to sports administrators.
However, this problem is not confined to Malaysian Indians. The Chinese community is in the same situation.
Those were the days when Malaysian teams were truly 1Malaysia and they produced some outstanding results in the international arena.
This is not an exercise to find fault with anyone but an effort must be made to let a truly Malaysian sports community surface again.
To a certain extent, Malaysian Indians have only themselves to blame for what has happened. They are not making a real effort to become relevant.
Bodies like the Tamilian Physical Culture Association (TPCA), Tamil Youth Bells Club, Selangor Indian Association, Kinta Indians Association and other state Indian clubs exist in name only, with some having folded or playing a minimal role. There was a time when these clubs produced many national athletes.
The Malaysian Indian Sports Council (MISC) is supposed to be the saviour of the community but it hardly does anything. However, the Malaysian Indian Football Association (MIFA) founded some twelve years ago by Datuk S. Pathy, who is its vice-president while Datuk T. Mohan is the president - have been doing something for football. Hopefully, some talent will emerge from their programmes.
Last week, MIFA concluded their 10th national Under-23 tournament in Penang. They also hold annual tournaments for under 12 and under 16.
The Under-12 tournaments are also organised at state level.
But the talent is not outstanding because not enough effort is being put in at the state level to develop the players.
The Petaling District FA, in collaboration with MIFA, organises annual Tamil school football tournaments, where about 100 schools from Kuala Lumpur and Selangor compete. There are about 540 Tamil schools in the country.
While football is heading in the direction, other sports like hockey, athletics, and badminton certainly could do with a good p

The hockey 1MAS programme and even the National Football Development Programme (NFDP) and schools of excellence in the states could make some of the Tamil schools their centres of excellence.
And ex-internationals and coaches who are no longer in elite programmes could assist in coaching in the districts, schools and development programmes.
Indeed, plenty can been done by not only the Indian community but others too to make Malaysian sports ‘Truly Malaysian’. Food for thought during the Deepavali festivity.
Happy Diwali to all Hindu readers and Malaysians.

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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