Friday, March 25, 2005

The dying breed (25/03/2005 - The Malay Mail)

Publication : MM
Date : 25/03/2005
Headline : The dying breed

TEACHERS of late have been blamed for not having the same commitment as
their past colleagues when it comes to the development of sports in
There are various reasons from lack of rewards, rising number of women
teachers, schools which are not interested in sports, the changing
lifestyle of the society where education takes precedence to teachers who
prefer to earn extra money through tuition and the diminishing number of
school fields.
The politics played by teachers to get into positions at the State or
National Level Sports Councils, the backbiting and undermining of efforts
of fellow teachers and jealousy are also discouraging other teachers.
Parents also play a part when they get personal and use their influence
for their children sake.
In the past, there have been cases of teachers being transferred because
of complaints from parents, or even fellow teachers, who have clout or
"connections" at the right places.
Some of these teachers have given up sports in their new schools, while
some continued with their work to produce athletes every year.
How can there be sports development when there are so much problems at
the grassroots?
In all fairness to teachers, who have done their share in development,
this column attempts to credit teachers who have been the pillars of
Malaysian sports foundation.
It is impossible to credit every one because there are always the
teachers who do all the hard work but shy from publicity, or are working
in their own on some remote place in Malaysia, while some are never
recognised because others take their glory.
Dr Harjit Singh, the Johor Cricket Council (JCC) president for the past
19 years, is a dedicated worker who is an all action and hands-on man.
He has seen the many phases of Malaysian sports and testified teachers
of the old school are a dying breed.
"We had teachers who were not only dedicated but would spend their own
money to promote sports in their schools and State," said Harjit.
"But times have changed, economically and socially, and we cannot blame
teachers who prefer to look after themselves financially first."
Many names mentioned here might not ring a bell to the new generation of
teachers and students but they need to be acknowledged for being
responsible for the past glories.
Among those who made their marks in the 60s, 70s and 80s include Gerald
Rozells, Bernard Khoo, Philip Adolphus, Kirubakaran Rokk, David Fernandez,
Ahmad Shafie (soccer), 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 (hockey), B. Rajakulasingham,
Indran, B. Sathiasivam, R. Ratnasingam, Jimi Chai (cricket), Aladad Khan
(multiple sports), late Mui Fatt Chai, Goh Yea Yen (badminton), Wong Tong
Poh (swimming), the late Ung Ket Chow (rugby) and the list goes on.
Many of these teachers are still actively involved in coaching despite
being retired. These are the dying breed of teachers.
The present times have their fair share of dedicated teachers.
Among them are K. Sukumaran, P. Gansesmoorthy, C. Nadarajan, Ustaz Md
Yazid Yahaya, Sidan Harun, Mat Jusoh Saat, Khairul Annuar Khairuddin
(soccer), 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), K. Kamarajan (cricket), 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.
There is still hope for schools to become the permanent foundation of
Malaysian sports but it needs to be made worthwhile for teachers to be
seriously involved.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Parents should know their place (18/03/2005 - The Malay Mail)

Date : 18/03/2005
Headline : Parents should know their place

PARENTS are the first step towards a sporting culture which excels at the
highest level.
However, changing times in society, have seen them giving less
importance to sports.
Their lack of interest is reflected in the end products with fewer and
and fewer students doing well in sports.
But in fairness to parents, who still play a major role in churning out
talent from schools, their contribution is indeed immense.
In general, there are three kinds of parents - those who emphasise on
education with loads of tuition than on sports.
Then, we have parents, who take great interest in sports, supporting
their kids with the best equipment, sending them to training and even
attending competitions to create a family carnival by bringing food and
They also spend tons of money in order for their kid to succeed.
The third category of parents are those who get too involved in the
sport and problems arise when teachers lose control of their teams.
More often than not, these parents get emotionally involved, question
selection and lose sense of fairness. This can turn into ugly situations.
This, unfortunately, has certainly been the case in recent years and is
unhealthy for the growth of sports.
In a way, the teachers have to share the blame.
In most cases, the parents get involved as the teachers do not take much
interest in the sports and it is the parents, who get things going.
Before you know it, it is the parents who are running the show.
But when parents get involved, they allow their sentiments and emotions
to get the better of them, especially when it comes to selection.
If teachers are in charge, they would pick the best based because they
want the best to represent the school.
Recently, parents who are upset by teachers' decisions, have even taken
the matter to the Education Department.
Luckily, good sense prevailed with the State and national Education
Departments dismissing such complains, saying parents can't be directly
involved in the selection process.
But the situation will continue if teachers do not take full
responsibility of sports they are in charge of and take the easy way out
when parents offer assistance.
Haresh Deol, Malay Mail Sports stringer, a law student, who has been
covering the schools scene for the last five years, has stories of parents
being overzealous on numerous occasions.
One recent incident involved parents invading a hockey pitch to question
the umpire's decision during a schools game in the Klang Valley.
At a recent bowling championships, parents questioned the selection of
the district team.
But this particular district still emerged tops and eventually, the bulk
of their bowlers helped the State to emerge champions.
There was even an incident where a parent hit a teacher after a heated
If this continues, the few teachers still dedicated to sports, will
disappear to avoid any controversy.
After all, most put their heart and soul coaching - for free.
As such, while parents are the key which unlocks champions, they have to
restrain themselves from getting involved emotionally.
They should assist teachers when asked, in non-controversial areas.
They should work together to bring the best out of children and not act
in any manner which will be detrimental to their development.
On the other hand, kudos to parents who have played important roles in
nurturing champions.
Among the athletes who have succeeded are the Kali Kavandan brothers
Keevan and Logan Raj, Dr Brian Jayhan Sivapathasundram, Shalin Zulkifli,
Wendy Chai, Zandra and Zaid Ibrahim Hakimi, Zulmazran Zulkifli, Nicol
David, Ong Beng Hee, the Sidek and Hashim brothers, Kevin Lim, Timothy and
Delia Arnold and the list goes on.
These parents have set exemplary examples and it is about time they are
recognised publicly.
Perhaps even rewarded, so it makes it worthwhile for other parents to
follow suit.
With the Government now making it worthwhile for students to excel in
sports for a better future, parents should take bolder steps to encourage
their children to excel in sports.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Save the fields first (11/03/2005 - The Malay Mail)

Publication : MM
Date : 11/03/2005
Headline : Save the fields first

SPORTS in the country may be on the rise, what with the strong support
from the Government, who have been focusing on the grassroots level of
However, one important area seems to have been neglected: the fields.
All programmes and plans will come to nought if there are not enough or
even proper fields for the children to train on.
It is no secret there is a shortage of fields in the Klang Valley and
the other towns, where many a field have disappeared in the name of
Even school fields have not been spared where construction of new
classrooms, facilities like science and technology laboratories and car
parks has been given priority over fields.
A recent survey of 268 secondary schools showed 53 per cent of them lack
in one or more facilities of the the following: courts for badminton,
basketball, netball, sepak takraw, tennis, handball and volleyball; as
well as fields for football and hockey; multi-purpose courts, fields and
Many of the new schools also do not have fields or may have small-sized
fields which hardly could be used for any activities.
Some schools have to share fields with their neighbours, while many
fields are poorly or hardly maintained at all, making some of them
dangerous for sporting activities.
When asked about the lack of playing fields, Sports Minister Datuk
Azalina Othman Said said she was aware of the problem and was trying her
best to change the situation through the assistance of the Ministry of
Education and State Governments.
State Governments' help is sought as their lands come under their
jurisdiction, not the Federal Government's, where only a directive can be
the solution.
Appeals have been made to State Governments to have more fields and
parks, but more often than not, these often fall on deaf ears as the local
authorities may not consider it a priority.
In setting the wheels into motion, Azalina has this week at the National
Youth and Sports Exco meeting in Kota Kinabalu, requested the respective
States' Excos in charge of sports development to submit detailed reports
on facilities available for the eight core sports identified by the
Government - badminton, tenpin bowling, squash, gymnastics, hockey,
athletics, swimming and football.
The Government's plan to build 519 community sports complexes in State
constituencies may provide a solution to the problem, but more
importantly, it is the school fields which need to be in place.
The fields and other facilities in the schools could be a two-prong
solution because they could be used by occupants of residential areas
after school hours for community sports activities.
The community could also play their part in raising funds to ease the
burden on the schools authorities in managing and maintaining the
facilities, and work closely in creating sporting hubs in each State.
And teachers will have to play an even important role once the
facilities are in place.
Teachers too have not been contributing and in fact, they have received
more brickbats than accolades.
It is common to hear phrases like: "Gone are the days when we had
dedicated teachers who made sports strive in schools."
While in all fairness to the teachers who are earning meagre salaries,
they do no want to spend their time on the field after school hours, when
they can be giving private tuition for extra income.
Some teachers even become part-time car salespersons, sell direct-
selling products and kain batek in their school staff rooms, rather than
waste their time in the hot afternoon sun on the field.
Part of the blame is due to the ratio of school-teachers these days,
where females exceed the males, thus seeing many of the former not really
interested in sports.
Then, of course, even among the males, a majority of them do not have
sports backgrounds, even in the case of those who are products of teacher
training colleges and universities offering Physical Education (PE)-
related programmes.
A recent survey of 1,276 teachers from 248 primary schools in Peninsular
Malaysia by Univerisiti Teknoloji Mara's Faculty of Sports Science, led by
Dr Wee Eng Hoe, revealed more than half of PE teachers - specialised or
otherwise - have not attended related course after being posted to their
respective schools.
Not only teachers, but headmasters must also play a key role in their
respective schools.
Some headmasters, and it is more common if they are women, do not
particularly pay much attention to sports development.
However, there are still a dedicated few who keep sports alive in their
educational institutions.
This rare breed would spend hours on the field coaching, and acting as
counsellors, friends, fatherly figures and, above all, dedicated teachers.
These are the ones who are responsible for the talents coming out of
Teachers who produce these athletes should be rewarded and recognised,
if more of them are to surface.
All the machinery at the schools level has to be set right, before the
sports culture concept is expected to be part and parcel of Malaysian
In next week's column, the very foundation of a sports culture - parents
- will be discussed.

Saturday, March 5, 2005

Renewing hopes for Malaysia (04/03/2005)

Publication : MM
Date : 04/03/2005
Headline : Renewing hopes for Malaysia

ONE woman has the vision of Malaysian sports being taken to a higher level
in the near future, while another is proving it can be done, even if it
means beating the men.
They are none other than Sports Minister Datuk Azalina Othman Said and
bowler Shalin Zulkifli respectively.
While Azalina, since taking office 11 months ago as the first woman
Sports Minister, has been all action with her fervor and passion,
believing Malaysian sports no longer need to remain in the doldrums but to
rise and shine again, Shalin has been continuing with her international
exploits to reignite hopes for Malaysian sports.
Azalina, even at the expense of being accused she was biting off more
than she can chew, is committed towards achieving what she has set in
Both Azalina and Shalin may be considered the fairer sex, but they have
proved a thing or two, prompting the men to sheepishly admit the duo have
done better.
Probably, it is about time for athletes, officials, schoolchildren,
parents and Malaysians at large, to believe there is indeed hope for
Malaysian sports and they must get cracking.
The time certainly cannot be better with Azalina playing a key role in
getting the Government to support sports in an unprecedented big way.
While it was left mainly to the Sports Ministry in the past to chart the
path of Malaysian sports, the recent formation of the Cabinet Committee on
Sports Development - headed by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib
Razak - only underlines the fact that the Government mean business.
There are athletes like Shalin and the other bowlers, squash players and
occasionally the shuttlers, who bring honours, injecting a ray of hope
into Malaysian sports.
And Shalin's feat of overcoming even the world's top men, not just last
week when she beat Ahmed Shaheen Al Muraiki of Qatar, double gold
medalist in the 1999 AMF World Cup and World Championships, on his home
ground in the H.H. Emir Cup, but on two other occasions in the last four
years, only reinforces the fact that Malaysian athletes, with the right
attitude, approach and guidance, can excel in the international arena.
Maybe, it will be too far-fetched to say Malaysian athletes can do well
in all sports, because the reality factor has to be considered, where in
some, Malaysians don't stand a chance due to the physical aspect.
But then again, when Asians like the Japanese, Koreans and Chinese, have
proved they can compete against the world's best, maybe it is not an
impossible task after all.
This brings one back to Azalina, who from day one has been preaching
what the national athletes' mindset and sports culture should be.
Without doubt, one of the main reasons for Malaysian sports slipping
into a slump is the sports culture has slowly but surely eroded.
But every effort is being made to revive that spirit, with the onus now
on parents and teachers, who are the foundations of Malaysian sports, to
be ably supported by the various sports associations.
The grassroots have been neglected for some time by many sports
associations, which are now paying a heavy price.
But the few, like bowling and squash, who still give emphasis to
development, are the ones who are standing tall.
Of course, many blame the changing times where emphasis is more on
studies, tuition, computer games and the temptations of the entertainment
But an earnest effort is being made by the Government to change all
that, and the fact 15 Ministers have been named to the Cabinet Committee
for Sports, only goes to show the seriousness given to sports, so that
there is a concerted effort from all quarters.
No one can now turn around and point at another Ministry because all
have to work hand in hand to make the plan work.
However, the only worry is with all the promises that Malaysian sports
are on the upswing due to the importance placed on them now, this could
raise false hopes that results can be expected soon.
And poor results in the Manila SEA Games at year's end, and next year's
Melbourne Commonwealth Games and Doha Asian Games, may see many joining
the bandwagon to brand all the efforts as a failure.
What has been set in motion currently to restore the Malaysian sports
image is going to take time, and patience, persistence and perseverance
will be the vital ingredients of success.
If there are going to be any notions of having launched the programme
today and expecting results tomorrow, we are certainly not heading