Friday, December 9, 2016


 Level Field

IT IS time we look for talent in an area which has been ignored — orphanages.
It would be a noble effort because it would mean giving orphans hope of a new life through sports.
They will value the opportunity and will fight to make the grade.
Knowing pain, suffering and without parental love, they need no motivation to make the best of the opportunity.
No disrespect to our sportsmen and women, but many are spoon-fed and hardly experienced suffering or made sacrifices. They are easily contended and more often than not, take things for granted.
But for orphans to make the grade, we need sports associations to embrace the idea and comb the length and breadth of West and East Malaysia to identify orphanages where talent identification can be done.
According to UN statistics, in 2010 there were 410,000 orphans, presumably only those with no parents, in Malaysia.
In 2013, Association of Women Lawyers Malaysia vice-president Goh Sui Lin, said in an interview, there were more than 400,000 children who have been orphaned in Malaysia. Are we ready to assist sports-talented orphans?
This exercise is not going to see instant results. 
It is going to take time, planning and execution, with the right people involved from management, talent identification, programmes and coaching.
Just to draw reference to football, which has so many private football academies and coaching programmes for grassroots, and yet we do not find clubs, state or national associations really tapping these channels to identify talent.
For instance, at the 12th RSC Datuk Chu Ah Nge International Junior Football tournament last weekend at the RSC Bukit Kiara Sports Annex, there were 1,000 participants, ranging in age from six to 16.
The tournament, launched in 2005, serves as a platform for competition among all age-group teams in the Royal Selangor Club, under the RSC Junior Soccer Development Programme (JSDP).
JSDP has 200 children of various age-groups training every weekend under calibre coaches headed by technical director V. Kalimutu, an ex-international who was a member of the 1972 Munich Olympics qualifying squad.
The international tournament invites selected teams from similar junior development programmes and football academies around the country and overseas.
Sadly, there were no scouts or coaches from the big clubs or state associations at the two-day event.
Surely, there must have been more than a dozen players, at least, from the 1,000 competing who had potential to be groomed to become stars of tomorrow.
Malaysia has a population of 30,188,000, of which 9,426,000 are children under the age of 18, and 2,499,000 under five.
Surely the future of Malaysian sport lies here.
In China, although millionaire coaches and players are the norm now, smaller teams are doing nicely in the shadow of their bigger, well-heeled neighbours.
These minnows, in spite of taking a low-key approach, produce their own players, thus promoting Chinese talent.
These low key clubs transfer a lot of players to other clubs to make their balance sheets healthy.
Despite finding it hard to attract fans, a small club like R & F finished creditably in the China league, taking sixth place.
These clubs look at long term planning, unlike in Malaysia where they are focused on the short term.
As long as states and clubs continue in this vein, Malaysian sport is not going to realise its true potential.
Perhaps, it is time to try something new. Looking at the orphans could be the way to go. What have we to lose?

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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