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Singapore’s success, Malaysia’s mediocrity – blame the system, not the athletes

By on December 24, 2021 0

There is no badminton world champion. There is no gold medalist at the Olympic Games. The expectation of football glory, even at the regional level, continues.

Malaysia continues to languish in many sports – soccer, badminton, cycling, diving.

We either depend on the same old stars or on young people still chasing the peloton, left miles behind the sports giants of the world and even the region.

2021 has not been a good year. So, is this the year of Malaysian sports flops?

No, not when it comes to athlete performance and dedication. Athletes and coaches braved the Covid-19 pandemic, despite the risks and dangers, to give their best.

Many have remained standing despite some stupid decisions made by sports administrators.

We have quality athletes, there is no doubt about it. We have talent. We have damn good coaches and selfless officials, who work tirelessly and quietly, without much fanfare.

What then is the problem? Why can’t we produce champions or have a thriving development agenda?

The conclusion I like to draw, like a broken record, is that we are missing a functioning system.

Athletes have had to put up with change after change under different jurisdictions and like many of us they don’t know where Malaysian sport is going.

We need a system that stays in place, even as we change sports ministers like dirty diapers.

The once popular Podium program has almost collapsed.

Massive budget cuts will lead to the downfall of many potential athletes. What a waste of time, talent and resources. Then we mourn the lack of athletes and say it’s time to get back to basics.

The program has been blamed for failures simply because it is easier to blame the program than to point fingers at those who run it.

It is time to end it. We need a good system, with good leadership.

Let’s start by choosing leaders who are former athletes, who know the pulse of the sport and who will fight for the good of the sportsmen and women, and for the good of the sport.

The Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) has former athletes as directors. Why can’t we have people like the old greats Datuk Mirnawan Nawawi (hockey), Tan Sri M. Jegathesan (athletics), Wong Choong Hann and Datuk Lee Chong Wei (badminton), Azizulhasni Awang (cycling, when he takes his retirement), Datuk Nicol David (squash), Shalin Zulkifli (bowling), Pandelela Rinong (diving, when she retires), as the best sports administrators in the country?

I’m glad Mirnawan and Choong Hann are already involved.

Why not even name our Sports Minister from this group of former athletes or choose one from the Malaysian Olympians Association (MOA) led by former hurdler Noraseela Khalid.

Why not a non-member when our elected politicians seem to know about sport? After all, our Minister of Finance, our Minister of Education and our Minister of Religious Affairs are not all elected members of Parliament.

All we see, year after year, is infighting within associations, with officials – mostly politicians – wanting to be on the trip to the Olympics, claiming positions and bringing corruption and monetary policy into the world. sport.

Look at the number of board members who have been with the association too long – who will trust the success of their athletes and then become the first to blame the athletes when they fail.

Please don’t get me wrong, I know some board members who are passionate and selfless; school sports teachers who want to make changes; and state coaches who go to great lengths.

We have good people who can help change the current fragile and inconsistent system.

I have hope, faith and belief, but it has to start with one Savior to make a difference. We can learn from others.

Watch Singapore – Penang-born commuter Loh Kean Yew left the Malaysian system at the age of 13 and joined the Singapore sports school system, which emphasizes meritocracy over mediocrity.

He is now Singapore’s first badminton world champion. The humility in him, the quality in him, the determination in him, plus a good system were rewarded for the little nation. Not to mention Joseph Schooling and Singapore’s first Olympic gold medal.

Meanwhile, the powerhouse of badminton Malaysia is still waiting.

Malaysian sport isn’t bad, it just needs a few tweaks, tweaks and the right balance of dedicated athletes and efficient administration. It’s not too late to make 2022 a better year.

* The writer wishes his readers a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. And for those who brave the floods, the Covid-19 and other tough knocks in life – she prays for hope, joy and peace through it all.