Saturday, July 11, 2015

Shame the offenders


Level Field

As the 28th Sea Games officially gets underway in Singapore today, Malaysian athletes in search of glory must not lose their focus or do things to give the nation a bad name.
Even before the start of the Games, footballer Nazmi Faiz Mansor has hogged the limelight for the wrong reasons - he spat at a Timor Leste player in Malaysia's opening match against the country on Saturday.
Nazmi should have been sent back home at once, even before he was given a six-match suspension on Tuesday.
Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, Olympic Council of Malaysia president Tan Sri Tunku Imran Tuanku Jaafar and Chef de Mission Datuk Seri Mohamad Norza Zakaria are all on the same page when it comes to punishing any athlete who breaches the code of conduct: send them home.
But how about the team managers, coaches and national associations? Are they on the same wavelength?
FA of Malaysia vice-president and team manager for the Sea Games football team, Datuk Afandi Hamzah, did not want to send Nazmi back after the player was red-carded. Instead he asked him to stay on until the disciplinary board had made a decision.
Maybe, if Afandi had given Nazmi the marching orders after his disgraceful behaviour, the disciplinary board would have considered that punishment enough and suspended the player for fewer matches.
Note that Nazmi is a 'serial' offender. He earned his fourth red card with his latest irresponsible action, not to mention let his team down.
Both Tunku Imran and Norza said on Monday that Nazmi should have been sent back immediately after he was red-carded. Deputy Chef de Mission Peter Chee, who is in charge of integrity and discipline and who was already in Singapore should probably have taken it upon himself to put Nazmi on the next bus home.
Talking about buses, it will be interesting to see how the player returns to Kuala Lumpur.
The entire contingent for the Games had travelled to Singapore by bus. So, logically, it should be the express bus or, at worst, the train for Nazmi.
Neither FAM nor OCM should fly him home because that would be preferential treatment that he does not deserve.
It is hoped that Nazmi’s case will be the first and the last during this edition of the Games and that the 641 athletes, of whom 292 are women, and 268 officials will be at their best behaviour.
As there is no official Games Village and the athletes and officials will be staying at various hotels in Singapore, they will have a lot of freedom. But that luxury should not be abused with any act or offence that requires disciplinary action. If indeed discipline is broken, the person concerned should leave immediately after a quick enquiry. There should be no leniency even if the athlete is a potential gold medallist.
Discipline is a key pillar of sports and if an athlete cannot uphold it, he does not deserve to wear the national jersey.
Our football players should also stay away from any undesirable party that might try to influence them into fixing matches, especially after their disastrous 5-1 loss to Vietnam and solitary goal loss yesterday afternoon which has ruled out Malaysia of a place in the semifinals.
Whether the Malaysian contingent meet their target of winning 56 per cent medals (any colour) of the 402 gold medals at stake in 39 sports will largely depend on the athletes reaching their full potential.
The general opinion is that it is a difficult target as Malaysia has already lost several gold medal opportunities as karate and lawn bowls are not included in Singapore's programme.
While the bulk of the medals is expected to come from diving, rhythmic swimming, men's and women's hockey, archery, bowling and water skiing, much is expected from the development athletes who form about 50 per cent of the contingent.
The Sea Games is a platform for budding athletes to make their mark on their sport event and it is hoped that none of these future athletes of the nation gets into any kind of disciplinary trouble. 
So, let the Games begin and let us excel as professionals and do the nation proud.

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