Arul Suppiah: 'An athlete cannot go on playing forever. It is important for them to have something to fall back on. I cannot stress enough the importance of studies.'
PUTRAJAYA: Cricketer Arul Suppiah marked an end to his long and illustrious playing career by giving back to the community.
The 30-year-old Arul showed that he is one of the athletes with a heart of gold when he donated RM52,500 each to the Cancer Research Initiatives Foundation (CARIF) and KL Junior Cricket Development, which had discovered Arul’s talent.
“It really feels good to give back ... I have been kept on my toes for the last year to raise funds for charitable organisations. I am happy to be able to help those in need,” he said.
His club, the Somerset County Cricket Club in England, had granted Arul a “benefit year” for his 14 years of contribution and dedication, and he did well to run over 40 fund raising events in that time to raise the RM105,000.
“I injured my knees (in July) and I knew that was the end of my playing career. Now, I have started a new chapter in my life,” he said.
Arul, who left Malaysia for London to give his cricket career a chance at the age of 12, did well to set a new world record in 2011 for the best bowling figures in Twenty20 cricket. He took six wickets for five runs in 3.4 overs during a match between Somerset and Glamorgan in Cardiff.
The talented Arul is now the director of cricket and economics teacher at Queen’s College in Taunton, England.
While Arul is fortunate to have found something to do after retiring from cricket, he knows that many other Malaysian athletes are not so lucky.
“An athlete cannot go on playing forever. Usually, they will have to stop at about 35 or maybe 40 – depending on the sport. So, it is important for them to have something to fall back on. I cannot stress enough the importance of studies.
“I am lucky because I benefited from a pension scheme started by my club and the professional cricket associations in 2004 to help youngsters further their studies. I am now qualified to teach because I have a degree.”
Arul hopes that the government will help Malaysian athletes by setting up a trust fund or pension scheme for them too.
Currently, Malaysian athletes do not enjoy any pension scheme. The National Athletes Welfare Foundation (Yakeb) looks after the welfare of current and former athletes but assistance is only given as and when there is a need.