Friday, August 11, 2006

Cobra Sting! (2006- Malaysian Today)

Cobra Sting!

IT is private clubs like Cobra (Combined Old Boys Rugby Association) who have given hope for the future of sports in the Malaysia.

While many national sports associations have become over depended on handouts to conduct their activities, it is clubs like Cobra who have emerged that pride and passion can take them a long way.

Infact, putting to shame many established associations who come no where close to the management of Cobra.

And this was clearly noticed and underlined by none other than the Youth and Sports Minister, Datuk Azalina Othman Said when she was invited by Cobra to their humble home in Petaling Jaya to officially announce the club’s 36th HSBC-Cobra Invitational Rugby 10s to held from Sept 8-10 at the Petaling Jaya Stadium in Kelana Jaya.

Azalina went to commend on the club for having achieved what many established sports associations have failed, where they had not only organized an international tournament with excellence, but at the sametime went on to expose Malaysia to the world.

And it was just not the international exposure that the tournament attained, but the fact the club’s development programme was displayed to the world, drew accolades.

And to top it all, the club members worked very hard to raise the funds for the event and ensured transparency to the core, that corporate sponsors had no hesitation to return and continue to support them.

For a club with a humble beginning when they were formed in 1967 to encourage young Malaysians to continue playing rugby after leaving school, they have certainly come a long way.

The clubhouse today stands on a piece of land which pioneer and life member Datuk Aziz Ismail, one of the best scrum-halves the nation produced, had assisted to acquire in the 70s when he was attached to the Petaling Jaya Land Office.

Today the club boasts of a complex which has a gymnasium, squash and badminton courts, training rooms, dormitories and function rooms.
It has been a long walk to where they are today, but it was pride and passion for the game, that has seen the club this far.

Officials leading the club are sportsmen who only have the game at heart.

Their ability to coax sponsors and working partners in terms of big corporations, only speaks volume of confidence this club is oozing out.

Infact, more and more private clubs like Ulu Kelang Recreation Club, Selangor Club, Penang Sports Club, Penang Swimming Club, Penang Chinese Swimming Club to name a few have surfaced to show excellent management and programmes held to uplift sports in the country.

Malaysians generally have been known to be excellent organisers, but of late have got some backlashes as more and more associations either take things for granted or take the easy way out by getting management companies to manage their affairs for them.

But Cobra will have no such thing, because they are proud of what they do and want to slog it out themselves, so that they can savor the fruit of their labour.

More importantly, they do not want to tarnish their good reputation built over the years.

Their previous tournament report presented on Tuesday, was nothing less to a big corporation report with every minute detail listed – from number of newspapers clippings which appeared for the tournament to television viewership.

That a small club like Cobra could attract international television to air their tournament which finally reached 90 million household world wide, is indeed by no means an easy feat.
It was not surprising that Azalina in her speech said that many NSAs can take cue from Cobra.

Azalina said: “If only all national associations managed like Cobra, sports in the country will be striving.”

Indeed, sports in Malaysia will be booming, especially with excellent Government support which includes millions of ringgit spent on sports, infra-structure, incentives, salaries etc.

What most national associations lack compared to Cobra is the pride and passion for the game.

Many are in the sports for the money they can make out of it, rather than what they can give the game.

With sports sponsorship being part and parcel of the game, many have taken these sponsorships for granted and in some instances, even abused it.

Sponsors have every right to demand for accountability, but more often than not, sponsors are treated as just as “hand-out machines”.

Sports has moved to a new and modern generation, but with it, officials have to keep tab with the latest developments and trends in sports management and manage their associations like they managing corporations.

Cobra is a fine shining example for NSAs to emulate, because if a small club of 200 members can achieve something so magnitude and meaningful, they surely must have something good going.

Long live Cobra!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

The sour taste of failure (August 2006 - Malaysian Today)

The sour taste of failure

TRANSPARENCY and accountability are two musts in Malaysian sports, if it is move to the next level to excel in international field with a fair amount of success.

For as long as sports associations try to sweep issues under the carpet or fail to reveal findings to the taxpayers, who have every right to know what went right or wrong, Malaysian sports is not going to take the forward step.

For as long as sports associations wants to protect certain officials, coaches or players and are afraid to reveal the truth, they will continue to stay in the doldrums because they are going to make the same mistake the next time around.

For as long as sports associations look for excuses for their failure and start pointing fingers, except accept the responsibility of failure by themselves, they will continue to pass the buck to someone else to take the wrath for them.

It has happened many a time in the past and it has happened again after the recent World Cup qualifiers in China.

A special committee headed by the Malaysian Hockey Federation(MHF) deputy president, Admiral Tan Sri Mohd Anwar Mohd Nor, Disciplinary Board chairman, Datuk Ho Ko Chye and independent member Datuk R. Yogeswaran, was set up by MHF to come up with comprehensive report on the team’s failure in China.

A comprehensive report they certainly came up, but the full report was not presented at the MHF Council, but was only privy to the MHF executive committee only.

It was the MHF executive committee’s decision that the full detailed report will not be circulated to the MHF Council who met Aug 5.

A summarised version of the report prepared for the Council, which was actually a calendar for events of whom the special committee interviewed and when and some selected recommendations from the detailed report.

It is learnt that the detailed report had more “meat” and several personalities were taken to task.

The media too were not given the detailed report, but the summarised version only.

When things are hid, it is only naturally that sports journalists want to get to the bottom of the matter and try all means to get the full report. This would mean talking to officials and therein lies the danger because some of them may not be fully aware of the detailed reports, but with the little knowledge they know normally through hearsay, they interpret it to their understanding.

And in the end all sorts of versions come up and only confuse the matter further.

One of the issue which has come up out of this report is that apparently some blame was directed to the National Sports Council (NSC) for meddling with the affairs of MHF.

Whether this is true or not, that it was part of the report, the fact that it has surfaced, has got NSC all upset because they certainly did interfere with the workings of MHF.

Whatever assistance, mainly support service, was given to MHF, was at the latter’s request and also after joint discussions and agreed upon by both parties.

To now point the accusing finger at NSC is indeed merely looking for a scapegoat.

And NSC will certainly not tolerate such irresponsibility. Afterall, it is NSC who has been the financier and to bite the hand that feeds, is indeed souring relations and may even lead to a rethink of funds being granted in future.

NSC will definitely get to the bottom of it, if it surfaces through the proper channel.

There were times not so long ago when sports associations managed themselves and did well too.

But of late, they have become over dependent on funds from the government to conduct their activities.

Sponsors who have in the past come out readily in support of sports associations’ programmes and even have been partners, have shied away because they did not get the mileage promised to them or there was no transparency to show how the sponsorship money was spent. In some cases, sponsors were totally left out of the picture once the funds had already come in.

And that is what the Youth and Sports Minister, Datuk Azalina Othman Said, herself has been speaking out lately - emphasising on Key Performance Indicators (KPI) for events and sports associations.

At the rate unfavorable reports are surfacing with sports associations who get assistance from the Government, a review might be in order and if sports associations get less in future or even none, they have only to blame themselves.

The Sports Ministry and NSC, too have to be accountable because they cannot go on supporting sports associations, if results are not fort coming.

Sports Associations had better start putting on their thinking caps and start operating like corporations or do the honorable thing by allowing professionals to run the associations.