SPORTS build bridges between individuals and across communities.
It equips young people with specific “core” and “soft” skills, which include leadership, co-operation, respect for others, knowing how to win and lose with grace, and managing a competition, among others.
All of these values are a necessity for character building.
Thus, it is quite distressful to see sports facilities managed in Petaling Jaya in a deplorable condition, despite attaining its city status in 2006.
With Petaling Jaya deputy mayor Puasa Taib’s recent statement that a public hearing would be held to decide the fate of the 19-year-old Petaling Jaya Hockey Stadium, the future of young hockey players remains uncertain.
There is no reason for the city council to convert the hockey stadium into a sports complex when the stadium is very much needed by the Selangor Hockey Association (SHA) in developing the sport.
It has been a continuous debate between the association and the council since 2010 on whether to retain and returf the stadium, or go ahead with the plan to convert it into a sports complex.
At the state government sports committee meeting in January with MBPJ, the hockey association and the State Economic Planning Unit were all in favour of repairing the stadium.
SHA had earlier this month said that state Youth and Sports, Infrastructure and Public Amenities Committee chairman Dr Ahmad Yunus Hairi had gone on record to say that if the city council did not have the funds to repair the stadium, the state would fund it.
Dr Ahmad’s statement had led to the visit of four independent contractors to the site, who later estimated the cost for repairs at RM2mil.
When progressive steps have been taken to retain the status of the stadium, why is there a need for public hearing?
It would definitely cost more than RM2mil to convert the stadium into a sports complex.
And if MBPJ truly wants a sports complex, can it not find land elsewhere in the city to build it?
The hockey association stated that it had resorted to using the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil and the Education Ministry’s stadium in Jalan Pantai for its training, which was costly.
Hockey is one of the popular sports among students in schools and their participation in junior leagues goes without saying. The location of the Petaling Jaya Hockey Stadium is strategic and convenient for schools, as it is near LRT and bus stations.
MBPJ has been active in the promotion and development of the sport since the stadium was built in the mid-1990s.
It also started a hockey development programme for children as young as five years old.
With the emphasis given to the sport from day one when the stadium was built, the city council should retain the stadium for the sake of the sport. Several players from the programme have graduated to play for the state and MBPJ in the national junior league. Some have represented Selangor in the Malaysia Games.
The city has adequate community halls and fields for other sporting activities.
There are plenty of private sports complexes too in Petaling Jaya, for futsal, netball and other indoor games. So one might think that MBPJ was interested in getting more revenue by turning the field into another sports complex.
It was reported in October last year that the city council would fork out RM305mil to implement its plan for a “liveable and sustainable city.”
The plan will see more development of green infrastructure, road upgrading and improving on the drainage and irrigation system.
All this will be carried out under the “Petaling Jaya Liveable City Strategic Plan 2030,” which was launched last September, to “transform Petaling Jaya into a low carbon great city.”
As highlighted by Taman Medan assemblyman Haniza Talha and other Petaling Jaya residents, the city council should use the funds to upgrade the existing sports facilities and other infrastructure first, and only then move on to develop other areas to realise its liveable city plan.
Is MBPJ accomplishing sustainable development by converting the hockey stadium into a sports complex? Bear in mind the definition of sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generation to meet their own needs.
The city council must realise that it has a social obligation to the residents to provide and maintain existing sports facilities in Petaling Jaya.
If the hockey stadium is converted into a sports complex today, what is going to prevent the city council from taking away other fields and similar facilities such as Kompleks Sukan Astaka in Jalan Utara tomorrow for other “development”?