Schools as spawning grounds

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NEW FA of Malaysia (FAM) president Tunku Ismail Ibrahim wants every state to have development programmes.

He would be doing a great favour not only to football but sports in general, if he gets the Education Ministry involved.

The Education Ministry do their bit for sports, but this is far from adequate.

The government allocates RM52 billion to education, which is one fifth of the annual budget, but funding for school sports is a pittance. Malaysian Schools Sports Council (MSSM)’s annual budget is only about RM6 million.

MSSM organise 24 sports, catering to the Under-12, Under-15 and Under-18 age groups.

In 2010 when there was a cut in budget, the allocation was a mere RM1.5 million!

In contrast, the Sports Ministry received an allocation of RM1.2 billion in the 2017 Budget. This included RM450 million for hosting the 29th SEA Games and the 9th Para ASEAN Games.

In addition, several sports development programmes will be implemented.

A sum of RM50 million was allocated for the construction of Football Academy Phase II in Gambang, Pahang; RM122 million was allocated for constructing and upgrading sports facilities, including states youth and sports complexes and 1Malaysia Futsal Complex and Community Sports Complex; RM70 million was allocated to continue the Elite Sports Podium Development Programme to prepare our elite athletes for international sports events; and RM54 million was allocated to continue Sportspersons Development Programmes, including Athlete Preparation Programme and Paralympic Athlete Preparation Programme.

If only the same priority were given for grassroots development, Malaysian sports would surely have a bright future.

The issue of disappearing fields and those in atrocious conditions needs to be urgently addressed, together with time allocated for physical education and the lack of qualified teachers for sports.

A quicker remedy would be to engage ex-internationals to help out but they have to be given some remuneration.

The other day I ran into a group of ex-internationals, all members of Malaysian Olympian Association (MOA), who meet every Wednesday to keep in touch.

All of them were looking at on how they can be involved in schools.

“It has to be a policy decision to allow ex-internationals to be involved,” said R. Pathmarajah, a World Cup and Olympic hockey player.

“I was involved with my son’s school indoor hockey team. But it only lasted a few days. No reasons were given. Either the teacher-in-charge felt threatened he may lose the limelight or the school did not welcome parents’ assistance.”

Fellow former Olympian and former national hockey coach Datuk R. Yogeswaran said schools should make use of ex-internationals as they are facing a shortage of qualified coaches.

“MOA have more than 300 members and 40 to 50 per cent will be available to coach in the respective states in schools,” he said.

“Those years many of the us attended teachers’ training and as teachers coached our sports in our schools. But those days no longer exist,” sighed Yogeswaran, who started his career as a teacher after training at the Malayan Teachers College in Penang in 1961.

Following that, Yogeswaran did a one-year course at the Specialist Teachers’ Training Institute in Cheras.

“Sports and the teaching background were the foundations of my life. It is little wonder I dedicated my life to sports and enjoyed every minute of it,” said the Sungkai-born Yogeswaran who had sport embedded in him in Tapah.

Tapah in the 1950s was a hub for Olympians. The Government English School (presently known as Buyong Aidil Secondary School) was a famous hatchery of sports talent.

Another member of the Wednesday group, 1975 World Cup hockey captain N. Sri Shanmugnathan said: “A concerted effort needs to be made to engage ex-internationals to work closely with the Ministry of Education and schools.”

Sportexcel executive director C. Sivanandan, offered this view: “School teachers played a key role in yesteryears and it was the reason we had a steady supply of athletes coming through the schools.

“But those teachers are a dying breed. We need to look at other ways to put emphasis in school sports and ex-internationals could play the role effectively.”

The group believe Tunku Ismail, with his passion for football, could pave the way for ex-internationals to be actively involved in schools and even with the state FAs and academies.

TONY is a sports journalist with close to four decades’ experience and is passionate about local sports.
He can be reached at