Other Sports

Published: Wednesday January 1, 2014 MYT 7:30:00 AM
Updated: Wednesday January 1, 2014 MYT 11:31:01 AM

Hello and Happy New Year, everyone!

What does 2014 hold for Malaysia, sports-wise? But in international sports, we can look forward to the World Cup, Asian Games and Thomas Cup, to name a few. - BERNAMA

What does 2014 hold for Malaysia, sports-wise? But in international sports, we can look forward to the World Cup, Asian Games and Thomas Cup, to name a few. - BERNAMA

IT’S 2014 and what an exciting year we have ahead of us.

There’s the FIFA World Cup, Commonwealth Games, Asian Games, World Badminton Championships and Hockey World Cup to name a few.

Of all the events, the FIFA World Cup obviously takes precedence. It’s the mother of all tournaments.

As we await the big events, which will take place in the second half of the year, let me share with you my five New Year wishes for sports.

No. 1: Go with your head held high

This message goes out to all the officials who have been holding on to their posts for far too long. There are many of them – and many are deadwood, as well.

You’ve done enough (damage, in certain cases). Yes, the perks that come with being the heads of associations (especially the more glamorous ones) are aplenty and often tempting. But don’t you think you’ve had your fair shot at trying to turn the associations around? Let someone else have a crack at it.

One of the key attributes of a true leader is to know when to leave. Politicians are usually the worst culprits. Add sports officials to that list.

No. 2: New stars will be born

Malaysian sport is in need of new stars. Don’t get me wrong. I am grateful and thankful that we have star athletes like Lee Chong Wei, Nicol David and Pandelela Rinong. But for a country of 29 million, I am sure we can unearth new talents and new stars.

Chong Wei and Nicol are in the twilight of their careers and their stars are fading. How much longer can we expect them to continue shining for the nation? Let’s be fair to them. They can only do so much with their aging legs and body. Whatever they achieve this year, will be a bonus.

Chong Wei is already 31 and Nicol is 30.

There is talent aplenty, no doubt about that. But the national sports associations (NSAs) must be brave enough to send them to international tournaments. Not every young talent will be an instant hit. Some will fall, some will flourish. But true champions don’t stay down for long. Just ask Chong Wei and Nicol.

No. 3: Respect our athletes

How many times have we heard of Malaysians undermining and trivialising the achievements of our athletes.

I have friends and colleagues who like to do that. It’s common for them to say “Aiya, jaguh kampung”, “small thing only lah!” “aiya, no big deal la” or “so what”.

Many of our athletes may not be of world class standard. But they still put in the hours and effort to excel in whatever they do.

They are just like us. Don’t we put in the hours and effort to do the best we can in whatever we do? How would you feel if someone trivialised your so-called best achievement?

The recent SEA Games is a good example. How many of you even bothered to tune in or read the papers to find out how Malaysian athletes did in Myanmar? Can anyone tell me how many gold medals we won?

I am sure that if I were to ask who was top of the English Premier League on Christmas Day, 99% of you will get the correct answer!

Many of our athletes may not reach Olympic standards. Heck, they may not even reach Asian standards. But let’s give them credit when they do achieve something.

No. 4: Let children take up sports

Children these days do play games – with their electronic gadgets. Why is that? Part of the blame falls on parents.

Many prefer their children to stay home and in the comfort of an air-conditioned room. It’s too hot to play outside, they say. Didn’t we use to run, jump and roll around in the field those days?

Then there are parents who “ban” their kids from taking part in sports because it’s the exam year. I’m speaking through experience.

I run a community football programme every Saturday. And I have parents who have told me that their children will not be coming for training this year because they have major exams.

As much as I respect their decision, I still find it absurd. Yes, education is important. But must it be at the expense of sport?

Look, there are seven days in a week, right? Why can’t you let them play once a week – and even then it’s only for about two hours?

No. 5: To all Liverpool fans – be realistic!

To all my com-Reds, stop building castles in the air. It’s good to be optimistic but please be realistic. Do you really believe Liverpool can win the title this season? We all want them to win it, don’t we?

Just look at the squad Brendan Rodgers has. Against Chelsea the other day, who did the Reds have on the bench? Compare it with the personnel that the Blues had.

I’d be jumping for joy if Liverpool can even make it into the top four this season. You don’t go from seventh last season to being a champion just like that (unless you are bankrolled by a rich Russian like Chelsea).

I do believe that if we can break into the top four this season, then we can challenge for the coveted crown next season.

Sports editor R. Manogaran hopes Brazil will win the World Cup (don’t we always) and Malaysian football will eradicate match-fixing once and for all (yeah, fat chance!)

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