Schools are expected to play a major role, once again, in the development of sports in Malaysia. In fact, going by what is being planned, many are expecting a sporting revival to hit the schools soon. This revival is expected to cause a massive transformation of sports in this country.
Led by none other than the Deputy Prime Minister YAB Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin who is the Education Minister, sports at school is expected to undergo changes which will have long lasting impact on the sporting structure in our nation.
Muhyiddin was Youth and Sports Minister from 1995-99 and during his term, he served with passion and commitment. He knows that for sports to flourish, the system at schools need to be strengthen.
While many of the program are yet to be announced, the Ministry through the Malaysian Schools Sports Council (MSSM) has already embarked on a plan to having coaching, technical and umpiring/ refereeing courses for teachers.
Muhyiddin chatting withMohamed Akmal Nazari at the launch of the TSM Golf Challenge on Friday.
It is reliably learned that the changes in store include the scheduling of events, the time allocated for sports, fundings and also sports being used to fill the after school time. This will enable the young one to make full use of their energy, strength and develop their talents in sports.
Sports is expected to be made compulsory for all students and achievements will be taken into account when apply for scholarships and entrance into varsities.
But the most exciting aspect of this would be the re-emergence of teachers in the sports scene. Previously, teachers played an important role in producing top national athletes, in addition to popularizing certain sports in the districts they work in.
Malaysian sports history should acknowledge the contributions of these teachers. Some of them include:
Athletics: Renny Martin (Selangor) and C. Ramanathan (Penang)
Basketball: Tan See Wah (Pahang)
Cricket: Raja Kulasingam (Johor)
Football: Allahyarham Datuk Syed Ahmad Kuning (Kelantan), Haji Ahmad Shafie and Datuk Seri Paul Mony Samuel (Kedah), Mohamed Bakar (Penang) and Windsor John Paul (Terengganu).
Hockey: The late Datuk Ho Koh Chye (NS), M.P. Haridas (Malacca), Brian Fernando (Perak), K. Indran (Johor), Vincent Fernandez (KL).
There are many more of them and in many other sports as well. Soon we will see more teachers becoming coaches, umpires and referees, technical officials and hopefully administrators. There are teachers such as badminton's Shuaib Kassa, who managed sports at school level before going on to be excellent administrators at National Sports Association's.
It is hoped that through this sport renewal the many weaknesses of the system can also be rectified. In my school days in Batu Pahat, Johor many drop out of sport because of bad selection practices.
In the late seventies, say a U-15 football team of a school, representing a district, say Batu Pahat, emerged as state champions, chances are none of their players would be selected to represent the state at MSSM. The reason given was the difficulty to get the players for centralized training. The good ones are not selected and they finally give up. I just hope things have changed since then.
I also hope that this revival of sports in schools would also bring back the sporting culture at the districts. Batu Pahat had a strong sports culture. Every evening the hock pitch and the stadium and all other places available for sports would be full of activities.
The district produced some excellent athletes. Among them M. Solaimuthu and Sukvinder Singh (athletics), Sarjit Singh and Harbinder Singh (hockey), M. Kumaresan (cycling) and a little bit out of town came stars like Abdul Malek Noor (body building) and his brother Salleh Mohd Noor (soccer).
I would like so suggest that MSSM focuses on Rugby Sevens instead of the 15 player game. This is because our future is in the sevens' which is expected to be included in the 2016 Olympic program. Our national team is also performing well in the international sevens' meets.
Rugby is hugely popular in schools, and having the sevens would be a good way of having a solid base of national selectors. I enjoyed playing Rugby during my school days.
Well, lets hope things improve from now on and those who are an hindrance to improvement should move aside.