Thursday, April 30, 2015

Malaysia got talent


 Level Field  

Instead of finding fault with each other for Malaysia’s current dismal football standing, all the parties concerned - schools, colleges, universities, clubs, state FAs, FA of Malaysia and the Ministry of Youth and Sports - should work towards a common goal.
Harmiles Daramin, the principal assistant of the Education Ministry’s Sports Division, has come out to say that the failure of the national team cannot be blamed on development (or the lack thereof) at school level. He said one should look at what happens to the players after they leave school at 17 until they make it to the senior teams.
He defended the schools, saying he believes an evolving system is in place that sees continuous improvement, so much so that the teams in the Under-14 and Under-17 Education Ministry leagues play almost like professionals.
He also commented on the launch of the National Football Development Programme (NFDP) last year, a collaboration between the Education and Youth and Sports ministry that will see every age group participating in competitive leagues. And when NFDP is fully operational, there will be programmes and competitions for children aged between 7 and 17 nationwide.
But the fact remains that these are all recent programmes and need time to mature and bear fruit. The Ministry League was introduced in 2008 while the NFDP was launched last year and is not expected to be fully operational until 2017.
Also, the national league only caters for the top schools and a limited number of players.
Truth be told, the authorities have neglected school sports for years now with minimum time dedicated to it.
Sports schools are not the answer to the problem. We need mass participation, which means children playing inter-class and inter-house football before the better players are absorbed by the school team.

And the school team should play in the inter-district league for a period of time, not on a carnival basis over the weekend or a day or two.
These days, with the sports schools with the cream of the crop competing in the inter-district tournaments, the ordinary schools are reluctant to compete for fear of getting thrashed. This does not augur well for development at all.
Maybe, if the better players return to their schools of origin and play for them, the playing field will be level, so to speak.
The best from the inter-district competition can then move on to the national school championship, by which time these players would have played at least six months of football.
According to Harmiles, these players do return to their schools of origin in some states and the state teams acquire them for age-group competitions and Sukma.
And with the universities, which were at one time considered the 'graveyards of sports', now actively involved in the inter-university games and leagues in several sports, the Ministry of Education and Higher Education Ministry should work closely to ensure these players move from one stage to another.
Both ministries should also seek the cooperation of the state FAs so that these players are not lost in transit.
Appointing C licence qualified coaches to the schools is a good start but if we want to produce quality players, shouldn't the best coaches be involved at grassroots level?
Ex-international players or even state players are a good option for schools to engage. But strict education policies on the involvement of ‘outsiders’ make it hard for such coaches to penetrate the schools.
There are clubs and state associations that want to work with the schools but they are prevented from doing so by the policies.
Amid stories of sports facilities in the rural areas being under-utilised and falling into disrepair, the Education Ministry's Sports Division has admitted a lack in many schools.
Harmiles said there will be improvements under the 11th Malaysia Plan, including the upgrading of school fields. According to him, 103 school fields nationwide are being upgraded with drainage systems that cost RM850,000 per field and 27 schools will benefit this year.
Granted, 103 is a big number, which only underlines the shabby state of school fields in this country.
It is just hoped that the huge amount allocated for the upgrades is money well spent, through proper supervision and the desired end-result. The last thing we want to see is the fields going back to their deplorable state soon after the upgrading because of a shoddy job by unqualified contractors.
We have seen this happen time and again, even at state level. The National Stadium in Bukit Jalil comes to mind.
Harmiles said the Education Ministry is doing its best to develop sports but that sometimes it has its own problems.
The bottom line is that there needs to be better coordination and cooperation among all the parties involved. If everyone wants to do things their way, there is going to be a lot of wastage and the common objective will remain a distant goal.
We hear of joint working committees involving the ministries of Education and Youth and Sports, but how effective are they when it comes to the implementation of policies on the ground?
Mere words are not enough. We need action-oriented plans that everyone understands in order to give their full cooperation. Red tape must be shredded in the name of sports.
More often than not, the best programmes are launched but when it comes to implementation, they run smack into a brick wall.
Crucially, we need dedicated teachers and officials who are passionate about sports. How many times have we heard of teachers and officials shortchanging athletes just to make a few bucks for themselves? Then, we have teachers with huge egos who threaten to pull out their teams for the smallest reasons.
There is no doubt that this country has an abundance of talent on the ground waiting to be discovered and nurtured. But do we have talent scouts who take the trouble to go to the remote or rural areas to spot them? Sabah and Sarawak, which have many talented athletes, have been overlooked simply because they are far from the peninsula.
If sports in Malaysia is to go forward, the whole country must be combed for talent, who must then be given equal opportunity to make the cut.

TONY MARIADASS is a sports
journalist with more than
three decades of experience
and is passionate about
local sports.
He can be reached at
Twitter: @tmariadass​

1 comment:

HSKamal said...

They will never learn!!

To win at all cost approach is the reason why talents coming from schools lack the imagination and realization to understand themselves of their role and responsibility towards the society and nation.

All what the schools want is to win at any cost, ignoring the many issues involving character and substance.
They're trained and thought to excel by damaging the core values which comes with it - winning at all cost approach can bring out the ugly side of human behavior.

Sporting spirit are most often compromised by those adults who helm the foundation stage of moulding sportsmen and women.

The damage is so severe, it gives very slim hope for a better future for sports in schools to do the undone.