Strangers in the night

IT’S amazing how the right hand does not know what the left is doing in Malaysian sports.

Several issues have cropped up of late that manifest this estrangement as more often than not, we opt for haphazard, short cut planning or popular decisions.

For starters, the excuses national football coaches give when their teams falter.

Some say the players did not play to instructions!

If a coach cannot get his players to play to instructions, then it’s the coach who is at fault!

National football team coach Datuk Ong Kim Swee looks to shortcuts and more often than not, neglects developing players

He relies on his trusted lieutenants and experienced players, but they let him down or pull the plug.

Then we have P. Somasundram, who is in charge of the AFC Under-16 Championship team in Goa.

He said his team lacked international exposure and were not accustomed to the intensity required to perform in the competition. Is it not his job to prepare the team adequately and have a proper programme in place?

Frank Bernhardt, the coach for the SEA Games, blames his team’s poor performance on injures, unavailability of players, and the tight schedule at the Asean Football Federation (AFF) Under-19 championships in Hanoi.

National teams are drawn from a squad whose members can deputise for someone without unduly compromising the overall strength of the outfit.

As for the excuse of unavailability of players, it’s another way of saying planning was poor on the part of the coach and national association.

As for tight schedules being blamed — what were the coach and manager doing when the managers’ meeting was held?

Why was the problem not fixed then? Why was a protest not sent to AFF?

It boils down to poor planning and management.

Meanwhile, top badminton players and divers are in a spot by the simultaneity of the KL SEA Games next year and badminton’s World Championships in Glasgow and the World University Games.

Do we want to our athletes to be world champions which is the goal of the Podium Programme, or do we want them to be content with being regional champions?

How come the clash was not known earlier when Glasgow was awarded the rights to host the championship in November 2014 and the dates announced in February 2015?

BA of Malaysia (BAM) had in their executive council meeting last week decided the top eight players who qualified for would compete in the World Championships.

The remainder would play in the SEA Games.

Yes, Indonesia, who will also be sending their second stringers, will still be a major threat because they have a better pool of players. But Malaysia will still have a fair chance to win gold medals.

Malaysia want to win the SEA Games overall title, but this is better done in a dignified manner.

Last Tuesday, Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin defused the situation after National Sports Council director-general Datuk Ahmad Shapawi Ismail had said all national associations must field their best athletes in the SEA Games and suggested the top badminton players skip the World Championships.

Khairy said players who are ranked high enough to make the cut should prioritise the World Championships.

However, he added: “It won’t be an easy decision but for now it is such. As we get closer to the date of the competition, we may get a better picture of things and a decision shall be made during that time.”

What he meant by that only he knows.

It’s puzzling Shapawi had made a contradicting statement.

A clear case of the right hand not knowing what the left is doing or wants.

It was Shapawi who had intervened when budding athletes Khairul Hafiz Jantan, Badrul Hisyam Abdul Manap (boys’ 100m), Mohd Rizzua Haizad (boys’ 100m hurdles) and R. Kirthana (girls’ triple jump) wanted to skip the Under-20 IAAF World Junior Athletics Championships in Poland to focus on the Malaysia Games in Kuching. Shapawi persuaded them to compete in both.

Having done rightly for our junior athletes, it’s surprising Shapawi has taken a reverse stand on the SEA Games and World Championships.

TONY is a sports journalist with close to four decades of experience and is passionate about local sports.

He can be reached at

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