Sunday, October 23, 2016



Level Field 

SOUTHEAST Asian nations and Malaysia especially, are forewarned that Philippine sports standards could well rise on the back of President Rodrigo Duterte’s unequivocal support for flying the flag in regional, continental and global sporting arenas.
Last week Duterte proclaimed October as volleyball month and placed the hosting of the 2016 FIVB Women’s Club World Championship, which started this week at the Mall of Asia Arena, Pasay, in the spotlight.
The proclamation is indicative of the Duterte administration’s strong support for Philippine sports.
Duterte had earlier evinced his love of sport when he announced additional allowances for the Rio-bound athletes and coaches, and ordered Philippine Sports Comission (PSC) chairman William ‘Butch’ Ramirez to accompany them to Brazil.
When Hidilyn Diaz bagged a silver medal in weightlifting, the president topped up two million pesos (RM174,000) on top of the five million pesos (RM434,000) incentive provided to her under the national sports incentive scheme.
Ramirez has also been instructed by the president to unify sports. PSC have begun scrutinising their books in adherence of the president’s order to stamp out corruption.
Ramirez said he would not think twice about suspending financial assistance to sports associations that do not iron out internal differences.
He went on to say if nothing happens with the healing process or unification, PSC will switch focus to directly supporting grassroots development.
Internal ructions are a familiar scenario in Malaysian sports associations as well.
Perhaps it is time the National Sports Council (NSC) withdrew financial support for associations that fail to pull their socks up.
Malaysia certainly needs dynamic leaders to head National Sports Associations (NSAs), preferably young, vibrant, successful corporate figures who have a strong interest or background in sport.
One association that will soon come under the microscope is the FA of Malaysia which will see a change at the helm as incumbent president, Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, announced he will not stand for re-election.
The FAM Exco meet today to decide on their biennial general meeting, slated for March-April next year.
Already affiliates have started throwing their support behind candidates of their choice.
Tengku Mahkota of Johor (TMJ), Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim, owner of Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) Football Club, seems to have garnered support from five states — Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Malacca, Sabah and Johor — and from the Chinese, Indian and Malay football associations and the national coaches association.
Hopefully the support is out of a genuine interest in the game.
Other names that have surfaced are corporate figures Datuk Idris Jala, Tan Sri Tony Fernandes and politician Tan Sri Anuar Musa.
Affiliates play a key role in deciding who will lead FAM but they need to be objective in casting their votes and must consider who can best serve the game and its comprehensive development.
Changing the leadership alone is no guarantee that football in the country will improve.
These are indeed testing times for Malaysian sports, thus, as government aid is critical, NSAs have to repay the largesse with top level performance and professional management.
With Malaysia hosting the SEA Games in August, NSAs will come under even more rigorous scrutiny. The ball is indeed in their court.

TONY is a sports
journalist close to
four decades of experience
and is passionate about
local sports.
He can be reached at

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