Wednesday, October 11, 2006

NSAs walking on thin ice (2006 - Malaysian Today)

NSAs walking on thin ice

NATIONAL Sports Associations (NSAs), especially those in the Eight Core Sports, are walking on thin ice.

The Ministry of Sports and the National Sports Council (NSC), have had enough of funding NSAs, but not seeing the desired returns in terms of achievements.

NSC is even more concerned because they are literally funding NSAs from A to Z.

Even development work is done by NSC for NSAs.

The last straw to break the camel’s back was when the national badminton team returned from the World Championship in Madrid last week, with just a bronze medal to show from the mixed doubles of Koo Kien Keat and Wong Pei Tty.

While there is reason to believe that the shuttlers were saving their best for the Doha Asian Games in December, NSC;s question is simple – why them go with a full squad and spend almost a million ringgit.

This is the second debacle by a NSA this year, with the hockey team having failed in the World Cup qualifiers earlier.

And NSC is not amused because they have been providing everything the NSAs require, but only to see no results worth mentioning.

Without doubt, the Doha Asian Games, is the last chance for NSAs to put things right and deliver.

Failing which, the NSAs can expect drastic cuts in support and even the possibility of being left out of the Eight Core Sports.

The Government has been very generous in providing support to NSAs both in kind and cash and support over the last few years have been like never seen before in Malaysian sports.

NSC have come to terms that many NSAs have been taking their support for granted, while athletes have been getting into the comfort zone.

And they certainly intend to put as stop to that and it is about time they did, because NSAs have become over-dependent on the NSC.

NSAs are no longer self-reliant and looking for sponsorships to manage their affairs has become a foreign language.

It is no secret that NSAs in Malaysia are a lucky lot, because no where else in the world do NSAs receive the kind of support that is available in Malaysia.

Yes, foreign nations too support their sports, but it is minimal and if the amount is big, then they are supporting winners not losers.

NSC’s outburst after the badminton’s dismal performance at Madrid, had better serve as a final warning to NSAs because the Government is dead-serious about cutting down the support, if no results are fort coming.

Of course, success does not come overnight, but at least there must be some signs that a particular sports in moving in the right direction.

All that most sports have been signaling, is the downward trend.

Just look at athletics, which was the pride of the nation not too long among many other sports including soccer.

It was pathetic to witness at their recent national championships in Penang that foreign teams like Thailand and Myanmar sent more athletes than some States.

And the fact that some events did not even have enough athletes, was surely a sign that something was wrong in the sports and that development has been neglected starring at us.

Instead of trying to restore some pride in the historical sport, there is in-fighting in the association, getting rid of people who are interested in doing genuine work and almost everyone working against each other and harmony is an alien word to them.

Sport in the country is indeed in a sad state of affairs, when it should be at its best with the kind of support they get from the Government these days.

To make matters worse, there are NSAs who do not even have their house in order.

How are they going to look into the welfare of their athletes, when they own house is in a mess.

Sometimes, officials forget that they exist because of the athletes.

Of course some officials, will want to argue that without them, the athletes do not exist.

But one look at most NSAs clearly show that it is the officials who are messing up things in their associations.

To top it all, we have unscrupulous officials who misuse the funds of their NSAs.

Maybe, the time has come for all senior officials who have over-stayed their welcome in their respective NSAs to make way for young and professional blood to manage NSAs like it should be in this modern age of sports – like a business.

At least then, we will have proper accountability, transparency and creditability in NSAs.

And the sooner it happens, the better it is for the future of Malaysian sports.

Indications are that some drastic measures are expected to be taken after the Doha Asian Games as a measure of house cleaning in many NSAs.