Friday, February 28, 2014

Arul’s key to excellence

Friday, February 28, 2014 - The Malay Mail
I DON’T know how many of our sportsmen and women have heard cricketer Arul Suppiah’s motivational message on radio station Lite FM, but it has been on air repeatedly for more than a month now.
Each time I listen to Arul’s message in his thick English accent, I wonder how many of our athletes understand what he is saying and whether what he said meant anything to them.
Don’t blame the 30-year-old Arul for speaking with an accent because he has been living in England from a tender age of 12 to realise his dream — to become a fi rst-class cricketer.
In his inspirational message, Arul urges athletes to nurture their talent and pursue their dreams to be top class athletes in their fi eld. He says he had talent and worked at it with determination.
Arul had uprooted himself from the comforts of his home to go abroad on his own in order to pursue his dream.
Many a time, Arul would cry himself to sleep, unable to stand the cold, missing his parents, home-cooked food and, above all, having to compete in a foreign land where he received no favours.
But he was made of sterner stuff and chasing a dream that he knew he could achieve despite the trials and tribulations.
A right-handed batsman and a left-arm orthodox spin bowler, Arul was the youngest player to represent Malaysia at 15 and played at England Under-14, Under-15, Under-16 and Under-18 levels. He also represented England Under-16 at hockey and played badminton for his school.
The Kuala Lumpur boy moved to England to attend Milfi eld School with the support of Sports Excel when he won a scholarship to further his studies and cricket career.
He made his debut for Somerset Second XI in 2000 and played for the fi rst team for the fi rst time in 2002 against West Indies, making his first-class debut. The rest is history as he continued to win accolades for his achievements, including making cricketing history when he set a new world record for the best bowling fi gures in T20 cricket after taking six wickets for fi ve runs against Glamorgan in Cardiff in July, 2011. He has scored 5,156 runs and taken 45 wickets.
Arul was forced to retire early in the middle of the 2013 season after continuing problems with both his knees.
He was appointed the director of cricket at Queen’s College in Taunton in January.
On accepting his new appointment, Arul said: “It has been a pretty varied and hectic year for me what with me being awarded a benefit year by Somerset and then having to retire midway through it, but that is probably why I worked to get my degree when I was younger, which meant I had something to fall back on.
He added: “It’s a new challenge to me in my career and I am really looking forward to it, so can’t wait to get started in January.”
Yes, Arul was granted a ‘benefit year’ by Somerset County Cricket Club for his loyalty. This means he got to host a variety of events to raise funds for charitable organisations and himself.
Arul was in Malaysia last year to organise charity events and will return in April to hand over the funds raised — RM52,000 each for Cancer Research Initiatives Foundation (CARIF) and KL Junior Cricket Development, which had discovered Arul’s talent.
So, how many Malaysians can do what Arul has done? Are our sportsmen and women who recognise their talent prepared to go all the way and make sacrifi ces to live their dreams? How many young footballers have we seen go overseas, only to quickly return home, citing cold weather, diff erent food, homesickness and most of all not being able to blend in with the locals where they were based? Malaysian athletes are generally a pampered lot and unwilling to make sacrifi ces or go the extra mile to become the best.
They are a contented lot and lack ambition.
Here we have Arul who not only excelled in cricket but is giving back to society through charity work. If we had more Aruls, Malaysian sports will indeed be fl ying high.
This is where I wonder if the High Performance Training Centre (HPTC) in Hertfordshire, England, which was proposed in 2006, would have made a difference as young Malaysian athletes would have been placed there to be nurtured. Sadly, the idea was shot down.
I remember how the then director-general of the National Sports Council (NSC) Datuk Dr Ramlan Aziz, who had so much to off er, was ridiculed when he tried to reason for the HPTC programme.
Let it go on record that HPTC was not shelved because of opposition but because of delicate land matters related to redeveloping the Tun Abdul Razak Research Centre (TARRC) in England.
It’s a pity that the idea was not allowed to germinate because TARCC continues to host wedding receptions, Merdeka Day celebrations and parties while a big portion of the building is rotting and a huge piece of the land has been loaned out to farmers for their sheep and cows to graze as it is too expensive to mow the grass.
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