The lack of competetive matches for those at schools has been highlighted numerous times and so many have made the calls for the inter school rivalry to be re-introduced but no one seems to be making any move to do such a thing, always citing the lack of funds and infrastructure to do so.
The bare fact is that most of us will never turn out to be champions. But we know sport offers friendship, rivalry, challenge and enjoyment. And we know, most of all, that sport isn’t just about being healthy: sport is fun - one of the good things in life.
For it is in schools where most of us get our first chance to try sport. But sadly this has not been the case. It is in schools that children discover their talent and their potential. They need the chance to try a variety of sports, to see which they enjoy most but more often than not we have headmasters who make the kids play the sports which go easy on the school budgets.
The kids need high quality teaching of basic skills and at the same time opportunities to compete at a level in line with where their ability has developed. But when participation and competitiveness is limited, what chance do these kids have to continue to excel. The schoolchildren need clear pathways into taking part at club and national levels, with the right coaching and the right support at every stage. However we have in place self centered administrators who do not think of the bigger picture and chose to place more emphasis on the way kids dress than sports.
But more importantly the Government does not and should not run sport, and by that I mean Ministry of Education and Ministry of Youth & Sports. Let those who have the expertise, those who are democratically elected into positions do what it takes to ensure that football and hockey regain its lost pride.
To some this is an idealistic theory and they argue that in Malaysia the government controls sports. The Sports Act is now seen as a hinderance rather than helping sports develop. And the sooner the Minister of Youth and Sports amends some grey areas in the Act, the actions of the authorities will be viewed with malicious intent.
What is more commonly believed is that sport is for individuals, striving to succeed - either on their own, or in teams. However those individuals, together or alone, need the help of others - to provide the facilities, the equipment, the opportunities. So there is a key role to play for those who organise and manage sport - local authorities, sports clubs, governing bodies, the Sports Councils and the Government.
Thus all involved in sports should now set out plans to create sporting opportunities for all - to create pathways of success for those who have the talent and the desire to rise to the top. The time has come to put forward plans to help schools provide more and better sporting opportunities for our children, and to encourage people to carry on taking part in sport beyond the school years.
What we all want to see is the organisations involved in sports working together to make our vision for sport happen. So plans to increase clarity about their roles, to improve co-ordination and to increase the professionalism of sports management must be clear.
Only if we modernise the way sport is run will we be able to create the wider participation and greater achievement which are our aims. What Malaysia needs is to see new thinking and new action about ways to improve sport in our country. We want to see everyone given a better sporting future. So that the practicalities of sport can match the potential of sport. So that the power of sport can be available to all. And so that the passion of sport can continue to move us and engage us and be part of our lives.
Sport matters, but only if people with passion and commitment are at the helm, and not some glory seekers out to make a quick buck.
So when FAM and KBS meet on February 4th, I hope that the Minister of Youth & Sports will look into the following areas that require more co-ordination from his Ministry.
1.Creation of a Working Group to analyse and coordinate the Youth Development Programmes in the States, i.e. the Academies and School football.
2.Improvement of co-operation and co- ordination with State coaches.
3.Integration of Women’s football into FAM.
4.Improvement of the infrastructure in the districts and regions
5.Establishment of a Road Map defining long term objectives of FAM.