WEcelebrated Teachers Day on
Wednesday but we must not forget the special breed of “sports teachers” from
the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s who acted as talent scouts, coaches, councillors and
They had the heart and soul for sports and did their share for development.
They didn’t receive remunerations, but gave time, money and
passion to groom thousands of future national athletes and icons.
The Ministry of Education (MOE) should set up a Hall of Fame for
There are various reasons why teachers of late have been blamed
for not having the same commitment for sports.
Among them are lack of rewards, schools not interested in sports,
education taking precedence, teachers concentrating on tuition and diminishing
number of school fields.
In all fairness MOE, especially the sports division headed by Dr
Mehander Singh, are doing their best to make sports relevant in the education
Under high performance schools, 2,061 coaches and 37,339 athletes
are involved in 860 district training centres which involves eight core sports
— football, hockey, gymnastics (artistic and rhythmic), sepak takraw,
athletics, archery, bowling and badminton.
Then there are development programmes in the form of league and
circuit for football, athletics, hockey and netball.
These involved 1,425 students.
The cream of potential athletes surface from the Malaysian School
Sports Council (MMSM) sports calendar which involves 24 sports.
It involves Under-12, Under-15 and Under-18 boys and girls where
805,088 compete at district level, 100,636 at state level and 12,154 at
Top athletes from MSSM are then selected for Asean, Asian and
world age group tournaments.
But the bulk of athletes come from the two sports schools.
It was different back in the day.
I benefited from a dedicated school teacher, Master Kirubakaran
Rokk, who was my football coach at St John’s Institution.
He taught civics, but his passion for football was overflowing.
Having attained his coaching badge from the Dave McLaren coaching
programme for teachers in the early 1970s, Rokk was determined to see the
school team win the Selangor Schools football title.
He formed a squad a year before the championship when we were in
Form Four and trained three times a week and during school holidays.
At the end of 1974, just before we broke camp in December, Rokk
requested 10 dollars (then it was dollars) from each of us.
It was difficult times and to ask your parents for that sum, could
only incur their wrath.
Many of us did odd jobs including pulling out “bull grass” from
the school field and were paid about three dollars for a half day work by
Brother Director Joseph Yeoh.
I also “picked tennis balls” at Selangor Club to earn a few more
We then handed Master Rokk the 10 dollars.
On the first day of our 1975 school assembly, all the football
players were called onto the stage and presented with a white track-top with
two green-stripes and the embossed school emblem sewn on.
Later we found out Master Rokk had sourced for funds from his
friends and had the track top stitched.
It was the proudest moment for many of us and the team pledged we
would win the title which the school last won 10 years earlier.
After emerging Datuk Keramat District champions, we travelled the
length and breadth of Selangor before reaching the final to meet defending
champions and favourites La Salle PJ coached by Bernard Khoo.
We played the final at Merdeka Stadium and we won by a solitary
goal from our top striker Stephen Chiam.
The memory still brings tears during my regular meet ups with
goalkeeper Mazlan Maaruf, strikers Husin Haron, Annuar Che Wan, Francis Da
Silva and midfielders Burhanutheen Ahmed Mustafa and Richard Thor Kong Hock.
It is impossible to credit every one because there are those who
shy away from publicity, or work in remote places, while some are never
recognised because others take their glory.
Many names mentioned here might not ring a bell but they need to
Among them include Gerald Rozells, Bernard, Philip Adolphus, Rokk,
David Fernandez and Ahmad Shafie (football), Lionel Rajamoney, Michael Perry,
C. Ramanathan, T. Krishnan, Rennie Martin, A. Tripadi, S. Sivapragasam, Tan
Choo Mong, T. Thiruselvam, Marina Chin, N. Nadarajah (athletics), Brian
Foennader, Louis Rodriques, Vincent Fernandez, S. Sivapathsundram, Malek Khiew,
Teng Cheng Leong, Pritam Singh Sandhu, Gurdial Singh, Clifford Sequerah
(hockey), B. Rajakulasingham, Indran, B. Sathiasivam, R. Ratnasingam, Jimi Chai
(cricket), Aladad Khan (multiple sports), Mui Fatt Chai, Goh Yea Yen (badminton),
Wong Tong Poh (swimming), Phua Seng Tiong, Ung Ket Chow (rugby) and the list
A few weeks ago in Alor Star a Kedah Sports Personalities
Recognition night organised by former members of the Garuda Athletics Club and
they honoured several teachers.
Many of these teachers are still actively involved in coaching
despite being retired.
In recent times, there has been fair share of dedicated teachers
Among them are K. Sukumaran, P. Gansesmoorthy, C. Nadarajan, Md
Yazid Yahaya, Sidan Harun, Mat Jusoh Saat, Khairul Annuar Khairuddin
(football), S. Arunandy, Khoo Boon Keat, A. Vellurajan, K. Segeran Nair, Tan
Eng Hui, R. Magendran, Pritam Kaur, (athletics), S. Sasitheran, R. Vivekananda,
N. Ghananathan, K. Sunderasan, Tejar Singh, Yap Gark Soo, Mokhtar Baharuddin,
Durai Raj (hockey), Mazlan Ahmad (swimming), Guana Seagarn Sammuel, Yasmin
Othman, Nahar Desa, Madeline Parril, Khairul Mohtar, Anita Abdullah, Doris
Selvi Thomas, Mathialagan, Abdul Rahman Besar (bowling) to name a few.
To these sports teachers and the many more not mentioned, a
standing ovation and salute is in order.
The Hall of Fame for sports teachers is definitely long overdue.
TONY is a sports journalist with close
to four decades’ experience and is passionate about local sports. He can be