Saturday, January 13, 2007

Winds of change (2006 - Malaysian Today)

Winds of change

THERE are winds of change in the offing in the preparation for elite athletes for future Games and championships in move to see athletes better prepared.

There is also indication that National Sports Associations (NSAs) will have to play a more prominent role in development and no longer can just leave at the hands of the National Sports Council to do their job as guardians of the respective sports.

The Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) is also expected to work even closer with NSC and at the same time work closely with NSAs to help them in development of the respective sports.

The NSC are expected to concentrate more on just elite athlete preparation so that the best effort is put in without any other distractions like development work and talent identification.

The Ministry of Youth and Sports, could well be emphasising further on sports for all and instilling a better sports culture among the raykat.

These are some changes could well happen with the Minister of Youth and Sports, Datuk Azalina Othman Said, having given indications of such a move in Sports Talk on Trax FM (a radio show) on Sunday and her visit to the OCM on Tuesday evening where she met Board Members headed by president Tan Sri Tunku Imran.

Azalina has also lined up visits to the associations of the Eight Core Sports (athletics, badminton, bowling, gymnastics, football, hockey, swimming and squash) to visit their administrative office and also to have informal discussions with their respective senior officials.

She is expected to throw innovative ideas for the betterment of sports in the country and see the responses and commitment from the NSAs.

Basically, just like she was picking the brains of the OCM offcials, she is expected to do the same of the Eight Core NSA officials.

She even had a similar meeting with Sports Editors of the Print and Electronic Media at a luncheon this afternoon, to get the Media’s feedback.

Once she has equipped herself with all the thoughts from all quarters, she is expected to discuss it at the Cabinet Committee meeting at the end of the month, before coming out with a structure which could see Malaysian sports elevate itself to higher grounds.

However, these plans when unfolded, is not expected to be a short term plan or any magical plan which is launched today and champions born yesterday.

It is going to be process, where the concerted and cooperation

Friday, January 12, 2007

Embrace Sports Medicine (2007 - Malaysian Today)

Embrace Sports Medicine

IT is about time Malaysian sports loving fraternity once and for all accept that sports medicine and sports science are part and parcel of modern days sports, especially at excellence level.

On too many occasions of late, questions have been asked about the importance and relevance of support service for teams. In some instances, the support services have even been blamed for poor performance of teams.

It is indeed sad that sports medicine and science have been ridiculed in this modern age of sports and especially by those who have little or no knowledge in the area.

More and more sports and coaches are accepting that sports medicine and especially sport science plays an important role in the overall performance of an athlete or team.

But there are still some sports and coaches who shun sports science, feeling threatened by it, especially when they have little knowledge on the matter.

It is a globally trend these days for athletes and sports alike to have support service to enhance their performances.

Soccer teams for the recent World Cup in Germany had as many support services staff with them, as they had players on their squad.

Support services are more often misconstrued as people who disrupt the plans of teams. On contrary, these support service team play a huge role in the rise in the overall performance of athletes and teams.

And now for the coming Doha Asian Games in December, where a total of 31 support services have been accredited to travel with the contingent to Doha, there is bound to be some adverse criticisms enlisted.

There a total of three doctors, four physiotherapist, six masseurs, five psychologists, three nutritionists, two sports code personnel and eight conditioning staff going to Doha as against …….. athletes and officials.

Under sports medicine are personnel who are involved in clinical services, physiotherapy, paramedical services, anti-doping, rehabilitation, radiology, pharmacy and biochemistry.

And under sports science come physiology, biomechanics, psychology, nutrition, conditioning and sports code.

The sports science personnel do specific works which help the coach to bring the best out of athlete, especially in working on weaker areas of an athlete.

But for the support service to be effective, the coach and athlete must believe in them.

The growing trend in Malaysian sports is that more and more coaches and athletes believe that the support service, do them good.

The works of the various support service in indeed intricate and involves a great deal of work on specific information on the athlete. Among them include counseling, to plan, develop, implement, supervise and evaluate physical conditioning programs to develop the athletes, to monitor athletes’ body composition and weight through continuous assessment, weight and management program and to provide the most appropriate physiological assessment methods that serve to continuously monitor the athlete’s fitness by identifying and quantifying the physical and physiological characteristics that contribute to performance in particular sports.

It is certainly degrading when we have for instance where there has been suggestion that Sports Code involves counting the number of times the shuttlecock crosses over the net in a game of badminton.

Yes, they keep count of rallies in a game of badminton as part of match analysis, but they certainly do more than that to provide not only vital statistics, but suggest on weak areas which need to be worked on.

In short the support service accompany the contingent not for a holiday, but an integral part of the team.

But to point fingers at the support service and say that they interrupt in the management of teams and athletes when performance in not up to the expected mark and coaches and athletes take all credit when they do well is indeed not fair to these professional personnel in the support services.

However, on the other hand, these support service are not there to take credit when performance is creditable, but merely as one and part of the team in achieving the best in an athlete or team.

The sports science team work with the entire contingent of athletes and provide a monthly report on all the athletes they work with and a look at the complied notes on individual athletes will tell one, that a great deal of work have been put in and the information and suggestion provided is indeed valuable to both athletes and coaches.

Sports Science and Medicine which is now concentrated at the National Sports Institute (NSI) in Bukit Jalil, is fast being made available to all states where mini sports science units are being set up, so that more embrace it.

As director-general of National Sports Council Dato’ Dr Ramlan Abdul Aziz, who was also the previous director of NSI puts it, “sports science is an integral part of modern days sports and the sooner all come to terms with it, the better of the development of sports in Malaysia.

“Sports science for developing countries is even more useful because it helps to compete against the giants in sports who have an abundance of talent. Sports science helps to bridge the gap between the giants and developing countries to compete on a more level playing field.”

Many fail to take the trouble to find out of the workings of sports science and more often than not make damaging statements which undermines the creditability of these support staff who work under the various divisions.

It is hoped that for the coming Doha Asian Games, these support staff of sports science are seen in a different light, acknowledgment is given to them and accept them as an integral part of modern days sports.