Saturday, September 16, 2006

Stand up and be counted (Sept 2006 - Malaysian Today)

Stand up and be counted

WHAT are the responsibilities of National Sports Associations (NSAs) today?

Gone are the days when NSAs were responsible for the development of their respective sports and their sports achieving the highest level of performance, both locally and internationally.

Moreover, most of the NSAs used to produce results in both areas despite them being amateurs and the associations run mainly by volunteers.

But these days with fulltime staff in NSAs and sports having moved into a professional era, the results are not forthcoming.

More sadly, the development of sports has been neglected by most.

These days, NSAs look to the National Sports Council and the Ministry of Sports for almost every activity they want to do.

Of course, there are a handful of NSAs who source for their own funds, but the majority just wait for handouts.

Just look at NSAs that have done well in their respective sports. One thing that shines like a beacon is that the administration is excellent and the NSA is headed by sports-loving personnel with professional backgrounds.

It is appalling how some NSAs ask for funds to host events and submit the entire budget for these – from allowances for officials to the farewell dinner -- without making any effort to get funds on their own.

Or is it that NSAs do source for sponsorship, but do not make it known? They still manage to organise their events although, more often than not, when their request is finally approved, they only get a portion of the budget they submitted.

So, is there any accountability for the sponsorship money?

There are NSAs whose sport is fast dropping in standards, but they want to impress the world by trying to organise international seminars and courses, but with funds from the NSC or the Ministry of Sports.

Then there are NSAs which receive aid from the funding authorities, but still complain that they have not been supported financially.

Some even complain that all the funding has been going towards the athletes’ training, allowance, food and lodging, while they themselves do not get cash in hand.

Are the athletes from NSAs not part and parcel of them?

To top it all, when their sports does not deliver at international events, they point the finger at the NSC; some have even accused it of meddling in their affairs.

But when they ask for funds, they ask for the sky.

It is about time NSAs are held accountable and responsible too.

When they present their cases to the Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) for the inclusion of their athletes in international events, they promise that they can deliver a certain number of gold medals just to get their athletes in.

But when their athletes fail, they look for scapegoats to pin the blame on.

At least, they should share some of the responsibility with the NSC which provide them with financial aid for training and development and support services for their athletes.

Foreign coaches are even hired after consultation with NSAs. So, are NSAs not answerable for their choices when their sports does not deliver.

The NSC and the Ministry of Sports too have to take a share of the blame for being too generous and letting others take them for granted.

Maybe the Government’s policy to support sports in a big way and the allocation of huge amounts of money has made all NSAs complacent and over-dependent.

There needs to be a review and funds only allocated to the real deserving cases, like NSAs that have a track record of delivering when it matters most, NSAs that give proper account of all funds used from allocations and NSAs that are transparent and genuine in their efforts.

Officials who are in NSAs for their own benefit and have their own agenda have to make way for those who are truly passionate about sports.

Sports certainly does not need officials who only give lip service, use their political clout to get things for themselves and above all, kill the sports they are in charge of.

It is only a matter of time before heads roll and the culprits are exposed and hopefully when the New Year comes in four months’ time, Malaysian sports can, once and for all, start on a fresh footing that is conducive to its development, growth and excellence.

For far too long, many have taken advantage of the generosity available in the name of sports, and in the end, the athletes and sports are the losers.

The brakes have to be applied to this and it must happen before Malaysian sports becomes a joke.