Friday, May 26, 2006

World Cup Showcase (2006 - Malaysian Today)

World Cup Showcase

THE world’s greatest show-piece which comes once in four years, is well underway.

The build-up to the World Cup in Germany in Malaysia has been far the best in print media, electronic media, in form of advertisements from official sponsors and of course the telcos, who are the latest to join in the fray of the promotions.

Gone are the days when the Raykat contributed to bring a live telecast match in 1982 from Spain.

Today we have all 64 matches brought live to our living room.

Everyone cash in on the World Cup and it is only hoped that for Malaysia, that the World Cup will do some good for the game.

However, the fear is that there will be more harm done than good in Malaysia by the World Cup.

The ideal scenario would be that the World Cup which witnesses top class football played, will rub-off on Malaysian soccer.

But that would be asking too much, because more often than not, it is the bad habits that are picked up.

The chances that many a marriage and relationship is wrecked, while many others become paupers or some many virtually write their life off through heavy betting, lose their cars and properties through sheer greed to make easy money and probably get sacked for being inefficient at work or worst still coming up with one too many medical leaves.

Many become overnight experts in the game and will virtually know every player, coach, manager in the World Cup, but ask to name their local state team players and they will draw a blank.

Of course, the immediate response from these “overnight experts” is that “who watches local matches and they have no standard.”

Agreed, that Malaysian soccer lacks the class and charisma of the top teams in the world, but does not charity begins at home first.

It is probably going to take many more World Cup tournaments before Malaysia can dream of a team playing in one.

Until then, we just have to contended that the Malaysians can romance the World Cup by not just watching it live on the tubes, but have Malaysian involved in key positions in the tournament.

Among the Malaysians from the soccer fraternity who are considered the best soccer brains who are in Germany include Asian Football Confederation (AFC) secretary-general, Datuk Peter Velappan and his deputy, Datuk Paul Mony Samuel, FIFA Goal Programme manager in Malaysia, Winsdor John, who has the posh job as the general co-ordinator in Berlin – the venue of World Cup final -, Lim Kim Choon (technical study group), Dr Gurcharan Singh (medical), Nazri Abdullah (referees’ coordinator), R. Indran (security), and Lazarus Rokk (Media).

But it will be nothing like seeing a Malaysian team in the World Cup!

For that to happen, the Malaysian soccer team will have first start to win the Sea Games gold they last won in 1989 in Kuala Lumpur and then eye for the Asian title – be the Asian Cup or the Asian Games – and it is no easy feat.

There is something good happening with the National Under-20 team coached by K. Rajagopal and they have been dubbed as the future of Malaysian soccer.

But with the State FAs already trying to stake claim of these players for tournaments like the Malaysia Games and Malaysia Cup, despite these players through the FA of Malaysia having signed a MoU with the National Sports Council (NSC) for the team to be adopted fulltime.

This team has potential, but guarantee is there that they will not be “spoilt” like all our present players.

Unless the FA of Malaysia keeps a tight rein on these players, another potential reality maybe just turned to ashes once again.

And while hopes are placed on this team for a brighter future, it is not going to be permanent if serious development work is done by the State FAs steadily keep the supply for young and talented players coming through the line of production.

Otherwise, our hopes of a World Cup appearance will continue to be a far-fetched dream and Malaysians will only be known as good organisers and administrators and who even have the AFC headquarters in Bukit Jalil, but still do not have the quality to make an impact in the beautiful game.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

A review of the SUKMA in order (2006 - Malaysian Today)

A review of the SUKMA in order!

THE Malaysia Games or SUKMA has to be reviewed immediately, if it’s original goals are to be achieved for the future of Malaysian sports.

The Games in its eleventh edition end in Alor Setar, Kedah on Sunday, but there has been one too many negative issues which has been surfacing throughout the event, that the owners of the Games, the National Sports Council (NSC), will be addressing the issue.

Sports Minister, Datuk Azalina Othman Said herself has expressed her disappointment that the Games despite running into millions of Ringgit to organise, has not been unearthing enough talent for future national athletes in the various sports.

The growing emphasis by States to win gold medals at all expense, has given rise to pinching of athletes, athletes themselves marketing themselves to best offers, while States themselves too offer lucrative monetary rewards, to lure the best athletes.

Many States have been neglecting the basic essence of the Games, which is identify talent and develop them to compete in the Games.

With the endless number of controversies arising Games after Games, it only underlines that the State simply do not understand the rules of the Games which has been clearly spelt out. It is the onus on the States when they register their athletes that they fulfill all the requirement and are bona fide athletes of their State, but there has been cases of States either being ignorant of the rules or blatantly flouting it.

And it is sinful to see host of the Games, trying to outdo the previous host to make the “Best Games Ever” and get blinded by trying to have the best opening and closing ceremonies and spend millions of Ringgit, instead spending the money on development or giving more emphasis to the organisation of each event with quality, fairness and efficiency.

To make matters worse, State bring athletes to the Games just to make up the numbers and forget about quality and standards.

A prelude to what was in store for the Kedah Games by the athletes was probably displayed in the opening ceremony by athletes of the various States, except Police, in the march-past, where their behavior was totally unbecoming of sportmen and sportwomen, especially in the presence of dignitaries, including the Sultan and Sultanah of Kedah.

When discipline is compromised from the very start of the Games, it is little surprise with all the incidents that happened during the Games.

There has also been mention that since the Malaysia Games, is a national Games, it should be held at a permanent venue – that National Sports Complex in Bukit Jalil, so that there is better control of the Game from all aspects.

Of course, the next host Terengganu followed by Malacca, are going to protest fervently as they will lose out on the opportunity upgrade sporting facilities, not to mention the money-making exercise which goes on in every Games hosted.

Maybe, till the Games come permanently to Bukit Jalil, the coming Games should see the respective national sports association take charge of managing the respective events, with the host’s State sports association providing the support-service, to eliminate all the accusation of bias judging and poorly run events.

Probably, NSC may also want to consider reducing the number of events, probably just sticking to the eight-core sports and maybe include another four sports, which is well managed and draws good participation.

To ensure that there is quality in the Malaysia Games, it will be appropriate that a selection process is held through the District Games, which is being mooted by Azalina, which is expected to be held in between the Malaysia Games years.

Only the best in the District Games should be allowed to compete in the Malaysia Games, or athletes who better the performance of the best performer from their respective States in other meets like the State or national meet of the respective sports.

Even Olympic Council of Malaysia, president Tunku Tan Sri Imran Tuanku Jaafar, totally agrees that a qualifying standard has to be set to check the deteriorating standards in the Malaysian Games.

OCM will be having their annual conference on July 29 and the topic is about Malaysia Games. It is hope that all National Sports Associations, National and State Sports Councils, athletes and others will give their input with the interest of the Games at heart.

The feedback will certainly be useful before NSC reviews the Games and the Malaysia Supreme Council meet to deliberate on the matter and take a final stand on the future of the Games.

Monday, May 8, 2006

Sukma poised for new directions (2006 - Malaysian Today)

Sukma poised for new directions

THE Sukma (Malaysia Games) should be taking a new dimension with some positive changes expected to take place to take the youth Games to the next level after the OCM-NSC Annual Sports Conference last Saturday at the OCM Indoor Sports Complex.
After the Youth and Sports Minister, Datuk’ Azalina Othman Said in her opening address in the morning had paved the path for “no holds barred” conference when she boldly asked the participants, if they were ready to make changes to take the Games to the next level after 20 years eleven editions and ten hosts.
The fact that she provoked the participants who comprised National Sports Council, Olympic Council of Malaysia, State Sports Councils, National Sports Associations and State Government Sports Governors, that she was asking what they wanted of this Games and was going to give her full backing, got the representations all worked up when they broke for workshops.
In the workshops the issues discussed were Events and Rules, Athlete Issues, Issues of Governance and As The National Sports Association Sees It.
The fact that the conference was well represented by all involved in the Malaysia Games which saw about 200 people attend, was further prove that they were serious about the fate of the Games.
OCM president Tunku Tan Sri Imran Tuanku Jaafar, taking the cue from Datuk Azalina, further underlined the importance of the Conference when he addressed the past, the present and future of the Games in his address of the participants.
The fact that Datuk Azalina had said that the resolutions at the end of the conference which will be further discussed and fine tuned by a committee comprising and OCM, NSC and representatives from different sections from the conference, before being submitted by Tunku Imran to the Cabinet Committee for Sports Development chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, further underlined the importance of this Conference.
The consensus to agree of Datuk Azalina’s that the Games should be athletes based and that the States should use the huge allocations given to the Games smartly, with welfare of the athletes being given top priority, meant there was better days ahead for the Games.
Matters like attention should be focused towards incentives like scholarships, training and progress assistance, rather than cash further meant that it was thinking of the future of the athletes to attain the best from them and at the same create a career path for them.
The existing objectives of the Games, will definitely be reviewed for better impact of the future of Malaysian sports.
Athletes and the competition will be the most important elements of the Games.
The brainstorming sessions at the workshops indeed did see important resolutions made, so that the Games will not continued to be marred by petty issues like eligibility of athletes, battle to have established athletes compete for their respective States with lure of money and not understanding basis rules of the Games, will be a thing of the past, especially after the Games in existence for 20 years.
It is about time to make the Games more relevant to present national aspirations and needs.
The Games has played its role over the years, but of late it some what has lost track and it about time to get on track and take it to the next level.
Indications from what transpired from the Conference, certainly indicates that better years are ahead.
More importantly, the fact that National Sports Council (NSC) who were the stakeholders of the Games, will now will be closely with OCM to organize future Games, is indeed a milestone in the Games moving to a new era.