Something needs to be done for sports in Malaysia and although there has been much talk along the corridors of power, be it at Putrajaya or Bukit Jalil, nothing concrete has come out of it. There has been much said about the Cabinet Committee for Sports, but until and unless something concrete is visible, it is tantamount to empty vessels making noise.
And to continue with such juvenile carping is to do a great disservice to all the athletes who worked so hard to represent the nation.
The reality is that despite some occasional praiseworthy performance, the overall result for Malaysia in the international scene over the years was poor. It will continue to be poor until we provide long-term assistance for developing athletes.
At the same time we need to start getting the basics right by ensuring that sport plays a more relevant role at primary
school level. Sport in our primary schools is a joke at present. An increasing number of our school children are overweight and very few pupils receive sufficient exercise. This is a worrying trend, not only because it minimises our chances of producing top class sports performers, but also because of the future cost to our health care system. But the Government is doing too little too late to tackle the crisis.
One of the platforms in the National Sport's Council’s High Performance Strategy is to develop pathways for delivering high-level performances. They pay particular attention to the Physical Education and school sports. And yet through Government neglect, schools are our weakest link.
The Government has failed to invest in the building blocks. It needs to start putting the structures in place right now. We need a nationwide audit of sports facilities and participation levels among all age groups and social backgrounds.
Research shows that people who take up sport at an early age are more likely to be active into adulthood. Instead, through this insane penny pinching, the Government puts an added financial strain on our healthcare system and makes Olympic success the exception rather than the rule.
There are a number of measures aimed at increasing participation in sport and improving our chances in top competition. These include:
· Long term funding for existing top athletes
· Identification and support of developing athletes at an earlier age
· Increased funding for sports equipment and in facilities for schools
· The development of a new interlinked Physical Education curriculum at primary and secondary level
· A nationwide audit of sports facilities and participation levels
· Increase linkages between local government, schools and sports clubs to develop and share sports facilities.
A shared vision, a framework for opportunity and real achievement - in short, a strategy for sport - must be the goal of all those to whom sport and recreation really matter. There has never been a strategy for sport in Malaysia. It is high time that there is a document that sets out the vision, goals and targets to which we should aspire, amongst which should include:
- raising standards – supporting schools to review and develop their PE and school sport programmes to enhance the quality of provision;
- strategic planning – enhancing PE and sports development through development plans;
- primary liaison – establishing and developing PE and sports programmes for primary and special schools.
- school to community – building and supporting school/club links;
- out-of-school-hours activity – developing and supporting out-of-school- hours sports programmes (including inter and intra school competitions);
- coaching and leadership – developing leadership, coaching and officiating programmes to help pupils gain skills to enhance their future role with the
And until someone, somewhere realizes that this is what needs to be done, we will all be groping in thin air.