LETTER | Restore the glory of athletics by installing dedicated leaders – Malaysiakini

LETTER | It is common knowledge that the golden days of Malaysian athletics have been gone for quite some time now, and the present-day performance of the athletes reflects the various problems confronting both the athletes and the associations.
It is time for sports associations to be helmed by leaders who have both the passion, vision and mission in wanting to achieve glory for the athletes and the nation instead of using the positions to their own advantage, either for publicity or to enhance their own image.
There was a time when teachers, headmasters, coaches and ex-athletes were the main office bearers of the associations and one can see how well the system was contributing from the 1960s to 2000. It was only when politicians, ministers, corporate figures, philanthropists, and royalty took to helming the sports organisations that the system went awry.
The previous office bearers such as teachers, civil servants, and ex-athletes were no match for the well-connected, resourceful, and powerful, who easily out-voted the ordinary officials in elections. Some sports associations even became racialised in the process and went against the grain of the country’s multi-racial philosophy.
There was also this false notion that only ministers, Datuks, and Tan Sris could bring the money and sponsorships needed for the sports associations to initiate big plans. Many sports associations fell for this ruse. The malaise that affected politics also messed up the sports bodies.
Many genuine and dedicated officials who had both the experience and expertise left the sports fraternity. Many sports bodies were reorganised according to the whims and fancies of the new group who thought that money and sponsorships alone could bring greater achievements.
Many sports organisations suffered as a result of the influx of money as corruption, embezzlement, misappropriation of money, and extravagance became the order of the day. Many sports bodies have not recovered from these setbacks as legal wrangles and administrative breakdowns have interfered with the operation of these associations.
As a result, sports bodies lost focus on their programmes for talent scouting, training, coaching, setting targets, competitions etc. Instead, the main office bearers were more interested in the perks, privileges, and glamour that came with the positions.
Athletics suffered the most, not only due to a lack of talent scouting, but also the lack of dedication, passion and vision to bring about major changes that will enable athletics to take the prideful place it once enjoyed in the country.
The problems confronting the Selangor Athletics Association need to be mentioned here. Selangor, which used to produce a large number of athletes who excelled in various track and field events, has been hard hit by the legal and administrative problems that have interfered with its development programmes.
The problems may take a long time to be settled and athletic development programmes will be the hardest hit. Some athletes need a higher level of training to prepare them for future international meets and this can only be done if the Selangor Athletics Association is functioning properly and has adequate finances.
Under the circumstances, it will be better for a caretaker committee to be set up by the government or sports commissioner to implement the programmes drawn up for the year without any disruption or interruption.
Some court cases involving sports administration officials and their factions will take years to be resolved but the sport and the athletes should not be made to suffer. When police reports are lodged against the sports associations or officials, investigations should commence urgently and the courts should also expedite cases involving sports associations.
The government, on its part, is providing various allocations and incentives, whereas the corporate sector comes with sponsorship efforts. However, all these will come to nothing if the sports associations are caught in their own vicious cycle of the blame game.
It is also necessary for a common uniform constitution for all sports associations to ensure quick and easy resolution of disputes by the sports commissioner. A sports commissioner must have been a top sports official for at least 20 years to ensure he has sufficient legal and administrative knowledge to ensure quick and impartial decisions.
The sports associations and federations need to be streamlined to ensure good governance, accountability, and transparency as many sports associations have become notorious for doing the wrong things.
Term limits need to be imposed for the top leadership positions to ensure new and young blood are allowed to rejuvenate the organisation. Only dedicated persons, not necessarily big shots, should helm sports organisations, and those going for senior positions should have served in the association or organisation for a few years in lower positions to ensure they have the experience and competency to become part of any solution, not part of the problem.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.


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