THE week-long first term school holidays may have just started but for Penang’s 400-member strong contingent, who are competing in the Malaysian School (MSSM) annual sporting challenge, it is anything but a break.
The 12 sporting categories are scattered around the Peninsular as well as Sabah and Sarawak.
State Education Department director Ahmad Tarmizi Kamaruddin confirmed that Penang would be feature in all the 12 events.
“We have picked a 400-member contingent comprising officials, sportsmen and sportswomen and they will be involved in three age group categories — the Under 12, Under 15 as well as the Under 18,” said Ahmad during the handing over of the state flag to the contingent heads.
The event was held at SMK Mutiara Impian in Simpang Ampat recently.
“While Kuala Lumpur will be hosting three of the 12 events in archery, gymnastic and pencak silat and Kelantan handling table-tennis and cross country run events, Penang will be hosting the cricket challenge,” Ahmad disclosed.
The other MSSM line-ups are golf (Sabah), tennis (Sarawak), rugby, chess (Perak), squash (Malacca) and aquatic (Selangor).
Ahmad said that seven different schools including Universiti Sains Malaysia would play a part in helping the state host the cricket event.
The other schools, which will be utilised as venues are the Penang Free School, St George’s Girls School, SM Tunku Abdul Rahman, Francis Light School, Batu Lanchang Vocation School and the Westland centre of excellence.
“Apart from cricket, I’m also proud that the Penang Schools Sports Council have been entrusted by the Ministry of Education Sports Council to play host to two other sporting events,” added Ahmad.
“We will be hosting the Schools Basketball challenge during the mid-term holidays (May-June) and organising the Piala Menteri Pelajaran 1Murid 1 Sukan events in October.”
Ahmad takes pride in the state’s ability to produce athletes like badminton star Datuk Lee Chong Wei and squash queen Datuk Nicol David.
“We hope we will be able to develop and produce more Chong Weis and Nicols, right from the schools until they are further nurtured by the respective state associations and subsequently be absorbed by the national associations to serve the country”, he said.
Ahmad also said that Penang in their bid to produce more world-class beaters, have also come up with 30 training and excellence centres for the nine different sports.
Ahmad said that as a form of encouragement to unearth young talents, the local sporting authorities have waived the entry fees at the zone level for several sports like aquatics, golf, bowling and gymnastics.
The Penang Sports School, SMK Mutiara Impian, had also been told to focus on producing athletes in football, sepak takraw, athletics, hockey and netball.
Mutiara Impian are not only equipped with the latest sporting facilities but in the process of securing five full-time coaches for the five sports.