Working on a strict budget

Well done: The MSSD Petaling Utama badminton team that emerged champions of theSelangor Schools Sports Council ( 2015.

MOST Malaysians have to work on a tight budget in their daily lives as the nation is struggling financially.

Some might not agree, but I would like to prove them wrong. Since I am directly involved, I see a lot of budget cuts in the government agencies.

For instance, schools, district education offices, state education offices and even departments in the Education Ministry have also been allocated lower funding. With the lowered allocation, many programmes have been either cancelled or run on a smaller scale.

It is evident in this year’s games organised by Selangor Schools Sports Council (MSSS). So far, badminton has been completed. Next is cross-country run followed by basketball and athletics.

It is common in Selangor and its districts, sports and games are run in a very tight budget. Often, individuals organising games for the MSSD and MSSS have to look for sponsors and donors to manage the events.

That is what I was doing for the past 20 years, though sometimes I would have zeroed down all my resources. Trust me, it is very uneasy to plead for funds from the same guys year after year.

Somehow the event must go on. Some of you would never believe that the organising school of a MSSD sport in Gombak, for example, will never get a single sen from the district education office.

I was the person in charge of MSSD Gombak badminton tournament for three years recently. Neither my school nor I received an allocation to organise district tournaments with over 30 schools and over 500 participants.

Imagine the cost we have to bear – hall with at least six courts, 50 tubes of shuttles, refreshment, T-shirts and allowances for the umpires, line judges and the organising committee. The organising school easily has to look for RM10, 000 at least during my time.

So what do we do? We charge upon the participating schools exorbitant entry fees in the guise of ‘contribution’. My school usually pays RM500 or so as entry fee in addition to two dozen shuttles. Cost of sending a team to this event is quite high for a school and it does not include the preparation cost of the team.

This year’s budget has been tightened further as the whole nation is facing financial challenges. The MSSS badminton tournament which concluded recently in Klang, was very much showing it. Can you believe that the 10 or so umpires needed to pay RM20 from their own pocket to get their T-shirts so that they look uniformed!

Initially, they were not provided lodging though they come from many districts of Selangor. Somehow the person in charge managed to use their other allowances to book budget rooms for them. Finally each umpire, I was told, received RM40 for four days of work! Luckily there are good teachers, namely Kamaruddin and Abdul Rahman, who could be resourceful in this tight situation.

Perhaps badminton is a costly game. What about cross-country run? The MSSS Cross-country run was held recently in Bandar Tasik Puteri. I am very sure the state education department has given the organising school some money to organise the event. But I know that it is very far and low from the actual cost. The school is expected to look for the rest.

I was with the district cross-country team for many years. Every year, I see R. Selva Nathan, the technical chairman of MSSD Gombak, and lately Khalil of SMK Bandar Tasik Puteri struggle and sacrifice a lot of time and money so that the event would be organised successfully.

Kudos to the guys for working hard in the development of sports in Selangor — preparing their team and also for organising school sports in every level in a very tight budget.

The question is can we blame the district education office? I doubt it as they too receive a smaller funding from the state education office.

Then, can we blame the state education department? No. Same reason. It would be finger pointing. What could be done to improve the situation? I believe the education ministry and sports ministry jointly help out the school sports as this is where all grass root talents lay.

The Education Ministry and state education departments could seek the cooperation of state sports councils (Majlis Sukan Negeri), state bodies of each sport such as the Selangor Badminton Association, and local councils and private sectors not only for funding and sponsorship but also in man-power and expertise.

Schools should be given more freedom to seek funds and support from various sections of people so that they do not depend on the same donors.

People in charge of sports should be more resourceful and should not depend heavily on the authorities. If they are not, the authorities should give those who are resourceful and talented a chance to lead.

Kick out the lazy and overly dependent leaders in all levels and bring in the game-changers!

If we do not make changes not only in the leaders but also in the way we manage school sports, we will end up as ‘also rans’ in sporting events.

May God bless Malaysian sports!

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