KEDAH has ventured into sports tourism, now that it has world-class sports facilities.
The imposing RM37.1mil Aquatic Centre in Gunung Keriang, the scenic RM2.5mil shooting range in Pokok Sena, and the impressive Muadzam Shah Sports Complex that boasts a RM4.2mil hockey field and RM1.85mil squash court, are among the new landmarks in the state.
Kedah Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid said the state would aggressively woo European athletes to use the facilities in Kedah for training during their winter season.
“It is our way of promoting our facilities to the world. When world renowned athletes make their way here, the world will know Kedah,” he said, adding that the state was also aggressively tapping the eco-tourism and agro-tourism markets.
A view of the diving platform in the Aquatic Centre.
The Kedah Tourism Action Council has been given the task of promoting sports tourism packages.
“We have spent about RM60mil to build new sports facilities and upgrade the existing facilities, as we are hosting Sukma XI,” he said.
Kedah hosts Sukma XI from today until June 4.
Among the new facilities are the aquatic centre in Gunung Keriang, badminton hall in Muadzam Shah Sports Complex, shooting range in Pokok Sena, sailboat complex in Langkawi, and boxing court at Tanah Merah Rakan Sukan centre in Pendang.
In spite of criticism that the new facilities would become “white elephants” after the Sukma meet, the state is formulating strategies to ensure that the multi-field sports complexes can be an asset to the local community, as well as a regional amenity for youth sports.
“We now have the infrastructure to host national, regional and international events, as we have the facilities,” he said.
The badminton court at the Sultan Abdul Halim Stadium complex.
Reiterating that the facilities would be fully utilised, Mahdzir said Kedah also had the facilities to train budding world-class athletes.
“We can also make full use of them to attract foreign athletes to undergo training while holidaying here,” he said.
The Kedah Aquatic Centre is complete with a training pool, a diving pool and an Olympic-size competition pool. It has a capacity for 1,000 spectators.
Kedah has two stadiums in Stadium Darul Aman, with a capacity for 45,000 spectators, and Stadium Sultan Abdul Halim in Jalan Suka Menanti, which can accommodate 5,000 spectators.
The refurbished Stadium Darul Aman is the venue for the opening and closing ceremony of Sukma on May 27 and June 4, respectively.
The spectators' stand and the squash courts in the Squash Centre near Mu'adzam Shah Sports Complex in Alor Star.
Kedah also has several sports complexes, including the Sultan Abdul Hamid Sports Complex in Sungai Petani and Modenas Kriss Sports Complex in Gurun.
Kedah also has facilities for indoor sports.
Dewan Wawasan Jitra in Kubang Pasu, with a capacity for 1,000 spectators, has three silat courts and a sepak takraw court.
The Lip Seang Kor Moral Uplifting Hall in Sungai Petani has the facilities for karate-do and taekwondo events.
The Modenas Kriss Sports Complex can accommodate 1,000 spectators. It is the venue for wushu and ping pong competitions.
The bicycle racing event will be held in Puncak Janing in Kuala Nerang.
Kedah has spent about RM630,000 to upgrade the existing sports facilities in the Youth and Sports Complex, Mada football field in Ampang Jajar, netball court in SRJ (C) Yih Min in Simpang Empat, fencing court in SMK Keat Hwa (P) in Jalan Pegawai, rugby field in Kolej Sultan Abdul Hamid, ping pong and wushu courts in ASRC Hall in Kancut, Darul Aman Golf Club, taekwondo and karate-do courts in Yip Seang Kor Moral Hall in Sungai Petani, tenpin bowling in Sungai Petani Central Square, cycling track in Puncak Janing, Padang Terap, archery range in Universiti Utara Malaysia, and boxing court in Pendang Rakan Sukan Centre.