Saturday, August 23, 2003

It's about being consistently good (22/08/2003 - The Malayl Mail)

Publication : MM
Date : 22/08/2003
Headline : It's about being consistently good

EXCELLENCE in sports is about consistently performing at a high level and
champions are only true champions when they repeat their performances.
We have to educate our athletes that champions are made of stern stuff
and would remain on top for a period of time.
In some ways, the sports system in Malaysia is partly to be blamed for
one shot wonders.
The authorities and general public get all excited with any form of
achievements. This is because Malaysians are starved of achievements and
go overboard in praising any success.
Then, of course, the large rewards for mediocre achievements see
athletes losing sight of their ultimate goal, and fizzle out in most
It's time to review the National Incentive Scheme and replace it with a
pension-like scheme with higher payouts after retirement based on the
number of years as a national athlete and the achievements during that
This way, it will definitely see our national athletes strive harder to
not only stay longer in their respective sports, but to continue to work
hard to get results after results. Otherwise, they will be at the losing
Just look at the number of athletes who have had a yo-yo performance
after a good outing, took their time to return to the top or in some cases
just just disappeared from the scene.
Names like Hidayat Hamidon, Sapok Biki, Amirul Hamizan Ibrahim and Hafiz
Hashim should ring a bell.
But, at the same time, we have athletes who are dedicated, disciplined
and determined to go higher each time they compete or, at worst, are
consistent with their performance.
We certainly cannot fault athletes who work hard and try their level
best but are unable to achieve the desired results because of tough
And, surprisingly, many of the athletes who have done well and continue
to strive hard are those who make sacrifices - like those who have to
divide their time between studies and sports or those who have gone
Among the athletes who have often given reasons for cheers time and
again include sailor Kevin Lim, cyclist Josiah Ng, shuttler Wong Choong
Hann, bowler Shalin Zulkifli, karate exponent S. Premila, swimmer Lim Keng
Liat and squash player Ong Beng Yee.
It is about time the rest of the Malaysian athletes emulated these
athletes to give Malaysian sports a more permanent ranking in the world
One just has to look at Tiger Woods or the Williams sisters to understand
what champions are all about.
Of course asking our athletes to emulate these icons would be asking too
much of them but they certainly can start somewhere to be more
consistently successful, at least in this region, for all the money spent
on them and sports in general in the country.

Saturday, August 16, 2003

The hearts of our fans lie abroad (15/08/2003 - The Malay Mail)

Publication : MM
Date : 15/08/2003
Headline : The hearts of our fans lie abroad

IT is sad that the Malaysia Cup kicking off next Wednesday is not getting
the same attention from the local fans who are more excited about the
English Premier League (EPL).
The new EPL season starting tomorrow is the talk in schools, offices,
streets, restaurants, pubs, warong, and even in the toilets!
Even Malaysian women are getting excited over it.
Last Sunday at a street soccer party in Bangsar during the launch of the
New Straits Times special pullout, EPLplus, about 5,000 fans packed Jalan
Telawi 3 to watch the Community Shield match between Manchester United and
It was a fantastic response to a match played thousands of miles away.
Ironically, on the same night in Penang, the Malaysia Cup draw was made
without much hype.
The next day, folk were still excited about the Community Shield match
but there was hardly any talk of the Malaysia Cup draw.
Without doubt, the EPL and European Champions League have captured the
imagination of Malaysian fans in a big way - thanks to the live telecast
of many matches from the continent and wide coverage in Malaysian
Teams like the Red Devils have Malaysian fans so much in thrall that
they suffer withdrawal symptoms when the EPL season ended. Many just did
not know how to spend their time in the evenings while many woke up in the
middle of the night, disappointed there was no live telecast.
On the other hand, during the M-League, teams were playing to half-
filled or near-empty stadiums across the country. Malaysian fans no longer
talk about their local teams or players.
Even the giants like Selangor have lost their allure.
What is happening to Malaysian soccer?
Talk to any fan on the street, and he will say that the standards of
Malaysian soccer have suffered.
Or is it because these fans have acquired a taste for foreign soccer
that they start comparing Malaysian players with the foreign teams?
Whatever it is, there is no denying that Malaysian soccer standards have
dropped drastically.