Grassroots talent 
fully tapped?

IS enough being done in schools to promote sports?

There are 7,772 primary schools and 2,408 secondary schools for a total of 10,180 in the country.

The breakdown of enrolment is as follows:

• Pre-schools — 200,684

• Primary schools — 2,685,403

• Secondary schools — 2,188,525

The total enrolment is 5,074,612 or about 16 per cent of the population of 30,751,602.

Of the 10,180 schools — 128 are “high performance” and 225 are “cluster”.

The Cluster School of Excellence are those that have distinguished themselves by attaining excellence in their cluster — in all aspects of the school management and student achievement.

High performance schools are defined as schools that have ethos, character and a unique identity in all aspects of education.

They have a tradition of high performance work culture that develops national human capital in a holistic and sustainable manner and are competitive in the international arena.

Then there are Sports Schools — Bukit Jalil and Bandar Penawar in Kota Tinggi, Johor — which have an intake about 550 each.

From the aspects of management and administration, the schools follow the concept of fully residential school which is equipped with sports and academic facilities.

Bukit Jalil Sports School was opened in 1996. Its success in producing athletes for the 1998 Commonwealth Games led to Bandar Penawar Sports School that same year.

The government will build another three sports schools under the 9th Malaysia Plan in Pahang, Sabah and Perlis.

The ratio between schools and students against students who specialise in sports is far from desired.

The National Sports Policy in schools is divided to sports for excellence and sports for all.

Sports for excellence comprise of national schools sports competition, sports schools and high performance sports, whereas sports for all under physical education and health, co-curricular and schools sports activities.

The problem is a majority of schools have fields either in deplorable conditions, reduced to minimum sizes or too small. Some do not even have fields!

In 2011, Education Ministry (MOE) began the “1 student 1 sport” policy. All students were to be involved in at least one sport.

The problem is students don’t get to pick the sports but are channelled to the various sports by teachers.

But there are not enough qualified teachers to coach?

Among the development programme are cross-country, standard test and sports day. Who monitors them?

There are tournaments like the Minister of Education League — a national level football competition, but it is only for a select few.

What we need is mass participation over a period of time — not carnival tournaments — to spot talent.

Under the high performance schools, 2,061 coaches and 37,339 athletes are involved in 860 district training centres which involves eight core sports — football, hockey, gymnastics (artistic and rhythmic), sepak takraw, athletics, archery, bowling and badminton.

Then, there are development programmes in the form of league and circuit for football, athletics, hockey and netball. These involve only 1,425 students.

The cream of potential athletes for the future surface from the Malaysian School Sports Council (MMSM) sports calendar which involves 24 sports.

It involves Under-12, Under-15 and Under-18 boys and girls where 805,088 compete at district level, 100,636 at State level and 12,154 at national level.

Top athletes from MSSM competition are then selected to represent the nation at Asean, Southeast Asian, Asian and world age group tournaments.

But for these competitions the bulk of athletes come from the two sports schools.

Talent identification and development (TID) programme is another source of fresh athletes surfacing.

TID programmes are conducted at district, state and national level which involves 12 sports where national sports associations (NSA) are involved in the selection of students to be placed in state and national sports schools.

However, the effectiveness depends of the strength of the NSAs and their involvement at grassroots level.

Only 2,000 students are involved at national level.

MOE and MSSM are trying their best have an effective development programme to provide opportunities for all students to participate in sports and training modules for teachers.

MOE need the cooperation of the state and national associations.

There are some associations who work closely with them but it has to be more than that.

These associations have to work hand in hand with schools.

Malaysian Golf Association, FA of Malaysia, Malaysian Rugby Union, BA of Malaysia, Malaysian Tenpin Bowling Congress, Malaysian Athletics Federation, Squash Racquets Association of Malaysia, Malaysian Gymnastics Federation, and Malaysian Basketball Association have good working relationships with MOE.

However, more can be done for programmes to be more effective.

MOE alone certainly cannot be held responsible for shortcomings, if not enough talent is not coming through from the grassroots.

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

He can be reached at

1. Charl Schwartzel (South Africa)

Schwartzel to grace Maybank Championship

KUALA LUMPUR — Fans will get to follow not one but two holders of the prestigious Masters green jacket in the Maybank Championship on Feb 9 to 12 at Saujana Golf and Country Club when Charl Schwartzel was announced yesterday as one the participants.

Joining the reigning Masters Champions Danny Willett at the US$3 million (RM13.4 million) tournament, the 32-year-old South African won his first Major at Augusta National Golf Club in 2011.

He has a further fourteen professional wins worldwide, 10 of those on the European Tour.

Schwartzel said: “The Maybank Championship is one of the marquee events in Asia for the European Tour so I am really looking forward to being there.”

Top Asian favourite Anirban Lahiri is also set for the Saujana showdown. He enjoyed a memorable 2015 season when he won the Malaysian Open and followed it up two weeks later with victory at the Hero Indian Open. He became the first Indian to finish in the top five of a Major when he shared fifth place at the 2015 US PGA Championship and he made his Presidents Cup debut in the same year.

He was subsequently crowned the Asian Tour Order of Merit champion in 2015.

Lahiri holds a PGA Tour card but is a popular player in Asia as he sharpened his game on the Asian Tour en-route to claiming seven victories on the region’s premier Tour.

Lahiri said: “Malaysia has been a very important place for me and my career. It’s where I got my first European Tour win.

“I want to get 2017 off to a strong start against what will be a very tough line-up.”

Joining the field of top players from the European Tour and Asian Tour will be a number of local players including top local amateur Daeng Abdul Rahman Abdul Aziz.

Earning his spot thanks to his World Ranking of 414, Daeng was also given an invite to last week’s PGM Maybank Players’ Championship where he finished in an impressive fourth position.

This will be his first appearance at the Maybank Championship.

Daeng said: “I am not too nervous about next year as I’ve played with some top players before, but it depends who I get to play with.”

Also securing their spot as a local entry is Ben Leong who claimed victory at the PGM Maybank Players’ Championship in a play-off against Maybank Asean golf ambassador Gavin Green.

“As a local player it means a lot to get the opportunity to be a part of it,” said Ben.


Chong Wei keeps hopes alive

KUALA LUMPUR — Singles ace Lee Chong Wei managed to redeem himself in the Dubai Superseries Finals yesteday after stumbling at the first hurdle on Wednesday against Korea’s Son Wan Ho.

Chong Wei was up against Hong Kong’s Angus Ng Ka Long for the fifth time and made sure to keep his record clean against the world No 9.

The Malaysian beat Angus 21-15, 22-20 in 40 minutes.

Chong Wei must beat Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen in a do-or-die battle today to make it to the semifinals.

While the Superseries Finals proved to be a new experience for first-time participants Goh V Shem and Tan Wee Kiong, the pair managed a win against China’s Li Junhui and Liu Yuchen 18-21, 21-19, 21-19 in 58 minutes.

In the first round of the group matches, the pair was handed a pass to the second round due to a walkover conceded by Danes Mathias Boe and Carsten Mogensen who were reportedly injured.

The Malaysian pair are confident of reaching the final, saying they felt no pressure despite going into the tournament as the top seeded pair.

“We didn’t think anything of it when we became the world No 1, and neither do we think any different now,” said Wee Kiong.

“Our focus continues to be winning matches instead of keeping the ranking, we don’t want to be too fixated on placings that we forget it’s the performance and skills that gets us there,” he explained.

Women’s doubles shuttlers Vivian Hoo and Woon Khe Wei ended their campaign for the title prematurely as their Korean opponents Jung Kyung Eun and Shin Seung Chan beat them 21-19, 21-17 in 40 minutes yesterday in the second round.

Competing in the women’s doubles category as Malaysia’s only representatives, the two said it was a tough match and that it was a good experience for them.

Purple League gains momentum

KUALA LUMPUR — The SS Purple League (SSPL) is starting to gain due recognition as one of the top professional leagues in the world with many recognized brands stepping forward to team up with the league.

The latest names who are involved with this league are Resorts World Genting, Li-Ning, 100Plus, Pearl International Hotel and Lazada Malaysia.

These five sponsors along with title sponsors, Samsung and Senheng have pledged a combined total of RM6 million for the running of this season’s league.

“I would like to thank all sponsors for coming on board and sharing our belief in the Purple League. It is very satisfying to see the league grow to what it is today since its inauguration two years ago,” said Malaysian Purple League chief executive officer, Datuk Jack Koh.

With the backing of the sponsors Koh feels the league will live up to its billing as a top notch league which has attracted some big names.

Meanwhile, Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Razali Ibrahim praised the Purple League’s organisers for providing the perfect platform for the development of Malaysian badminton.

“Badminton is our strong suit. We do not want to fall behind the rest of the world. So any form of development, whether for the youth or senior players, is always welcome.

“And this is where the Purple League comes in. Playing against some of the top shuttlers in the world can only help our players improve. It is vital that they grab this opportunity,” said Razali.

Since its inception, the Purple League has been operating on a budget of about RM10 million.

Despite having to work with a moderate budget, the Purple League is a top competition which attracts big names — local or foreign — to play in this season’s edition.

Local fans can witness the likes of Markis Kido, Tommy Sugiarto, Kenichi Tago, Sony Dwi Kuncoro, Rasmussen Anders Skaarup, Lee Hyun Il, Simon Santoso, Zhao Yunlei, Nitchaon Jindapol and Chou Tien Chen in action.

Among the local stars taking part are Datuk Lee Chong Wei, Koo Kien Kiet, Goh V Shem, Goh Liu Ying, Tan Wee Kiong, Tan Boon Heong, Chan Peng Soon, Hafiz Hashim, Zulfadli Zulkiffli and many others.

The round robin stage of the Purple League 2016-2017 will take place at Gem In Mall, Cyberjaya from Dec 12 to 31 and will continue at the Kuala Lumpur Badminton Stadium in Cheras from Jan 2 to 8.

Stage two of the competition will feature the top six clubs from the final league standings in a knockout round from Feb 9 to 12 at the Arena of Stars, Genting Highlands.

TPC Kuala Lumpur to host WTA Malaysian Open

KUALA LUMPUR — The main draw for the country’s premier women’s tennis tournament, Alya Wta Malaysian Open 2017, will serve up the action in Kuala Lumpur on February 27 February for its eighth consecutive year.

Sanctioned by the Women’s Tennis Association (Wta), the Alya Wta Malaysian Open will take place at TPC Kuala Lumpur amidst the green surroundings of Alya Kuala Lumpur, the newly launched luxury leisure development by Sime Darby Property, formerly known as KLGCC Resort.

The high-end property brand is the title sponsor for this highly-anticipated sporting event for the first time since its inaugural staging in 2010.

Sime Darby Property managing director, Datuk Jauhari Hamidi said: “We are tremendously excited to be hosting this event at TPC Kuala Lumpur and to associate the tournament with our premium development brand – Alya Kuala Lumpur.”

Tournament director and executive chairman of Carbon Sports, Keld Kristiansen said, “This is such a great opportunity for tennis to flourish on so many levels. Alya Kuala Lumpur is the perfect venue for such a prestigious international event and for the establishment of permanent tennis programmes. Sime Darby Property’s contribution will allow us to accomplish our mission of enhancing the level of tennis in Malaysia.”

Additionally, the Lawn Tennis Association of Malaysia (LTAM) will select the best Malaysian women players to be given a ‘Wild-Card’ entry into the tournament, providing a great opportunity for the players to compete with the best in the world.



Liverpool legend Robbie Fowler scores against RoboKeeper at a shopping centre yesterday. Fowler, Bruce Grobbelaar, Patrik Berger and Vladimir Smicer are in Malaysia as part of LFC World’s immersive fan experience. The quartet have several other meet and greet opportunities and will play a five-a-side match against fans at Alice Smith School on Sunday at 4pm.

Faiz receives FAM-ily support

PETALING JAYA — Faiz Subri said FA of Malaysia’s (FAM) sponsorship of his family to the Fifa Puskas Award in Zurich, on Jan 9 is a great gift.

“Since I got married on June 9, 2011, we haven’t had a chance for a holiday. This is the first time my family are going for a oversea trips. We are so excited, especially the kids,” said Faiz.

“As for my parents (Subri Kadir, 65 and Sadiah Ishak, 54), I will take them on another holiday later,” said the 29-year-old.

FAM announced yesterday they will sponsor flight tickets for Faiz, his wife Norzawanis Hashim, 29 and their two sons, Akif Fayyadh, four, and Aqil Zayyan, eight months.

Faiz and family will leave on Jan 8 and return on Jan 11. They will be accompanied by FAM deputy president, Datuk Seri Afandi Hamzah.

Faiz is among the three finalists for the Puskas Award following his goal that “defied the laws of physics” during a Super League match between Penang and Pahang in February.

His rivals for the awrd are Johnath Marlone Azevedo da Silva of Brazil’s Corinthians and Daniuska Rodriguez of Venezuela.

Fans can still vote for Faiz at until Jan 9.

Seniors give juniors morale boost

PETALING JAYA — The national rugby team are readying full-throated morale support for the Under-19 side ahead of the final match against favourites Hong Kong in the Asian Rugby Championship at University Putra Malaysia Stadium tomorrow.

They have to beat Hong Kong to win the ARC Under-19 title, a victory that will emulate the example set by the national team at the Asian Rugby Championship Division One tournament in May, where the seniors staged a come-from-behind title-snatching victory.

In that championship, the Malaysians lost 15-10 to the Philippines in the opening game but pulled off a rousing 42-17 win over Sri Lanka in their next match.

They then staged a dramatic 40-13 win over favourites Singapore in the final and title-deciding game, a win that enabled Malaysia to bag the Division One title for the first time.

Malaysia captain Syahir Asyraf Rosli said yesterday he was proud of the boys’ determination to follow the seniors’ footsteps.

“They need to double up their effort and discipline against Hong Kong,” said Asyraf.

“The boys also must stay positive as they need to win big after Hong Kong beat Sri Lanka 61-0 on their second game
on Wednesday.”

Asyraf said the team must maintain belief even though Hong Kong have physically bigger players.

Seniors’ winger Azmir Zainul Abidin said: “The boys need to focus on their game plan by not thinking too much of Hong Kong.

“There is a possibility for the boys to win.”

Azmir is an inspirational figure for it was his two tries for Malaysia that clinched the ARC Division One title.

After two matches, Malaysia who lost 27-21 to Sri Lanka and beat Taiwan 38-31, are second with six points.

Hong Kong are top with 10 points, Sri Lanka (five) are next and Taiwan (two) last.

NSC happy with
SEA Games plans

PETALING JAYA — Even if Terengganu Cycling Team (TSG) did not keep Malaysian National Cycling Federation (MNCf) posted on the national team’s preparations for the SEA Games, they did make a presentation of their plans to the National Sports Council (NSC).

On Wednesday, the MNCF voiced complaints TSG had not kept the governing body for cycling informed of their preparations.

Yesterday, NSC athletes’ division acting director Jefri Ngadirin confirmed NSC received TSG’s plans last month.

“In fact, they had a proposal which was well done. The presentation contained their preparation, including the SEA Games training and coaching,” he said.

“They presented it to NSC director-general, Datuk Ahmad Shapawi Ismail, and we were satisfied with their plans.”

Jefri, however, advised TSG to keep MNCF posted on what is happening.

“TSG have been handed the responsibility of handling the SEA Games team but l agree with MNCF. The national body have the right to know what is going on.

“We trust TSG and they already convinced us and proved they are the best team in the country.

“They brought back two gold medals from the SEA Games in Singapore last year after a decade without golds for cycling,” he said.

Jeffri said based on the proposal, TSG will leave to Australia early next year for a training stint.

“They will train in Melbourne and will compete in the Le Tour de Langkawi in February,” he said.

Mailsport reported yesterday on the criticism levelled by MNCF president Datuk Abu Samah Wahab at TSG for keeping them in the dark .

Meanwhile, Mailsport’s attempts to contact TSG for comments were to no avail.

Benzema and Ronaldo are Real’s heroes

YOKOHAMA — Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo were on target as Real Madrid defeated Mexico’s Club America 2-0 yesterday to reach the Club World Cup final.

The Spanish giants will face shock finalists Kashima Antlers of Japan in Yokohama on Sunday as Los Blancos look to capture their second world title in three years.

Antlers had earlier stunned Colombia’s South American champions Atletico Nacional 3-0 in the other semifinal on Wednesday.

The goals were scored by Shoma Doi via a penalty, Yasushi Endo and Yuma Suzuki.

With Ronaldo firing blanks until the very end of the game, Benzema struck in first half stoppage time, the Frenchman finishing clinically with the outside of his right boot after a deft pass from midfielder Toni Kroos.

Ronaldo, who won his fourth Ballon d’Or earlier this week, had already squandered a gilt-edged chance by heading against the post.

The Portuguese superstar also had two fierce shots saved by goalkeeper Moises Munoz but finally found the net deep into stoppage time as Real extended their club record unbeaten run to 36 matches in all competitions.

Incidentally, the goal Ronaldo scored yesterday was his 500th for Real.
— Agencies

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