I READ with much interest the statement by Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin: “Schools should give priority to sports too, says Muhyiddin” (The Star, Nov 18).
Muhyiddin, who is also Education Minister, went on to say that the Education Ministry was coming up with a more comprehensive programme to enhance sports development in schools and educational institutions.
Perhaps we should ask what has happened to the 1Pupil1Sport (1Murid1Sukan) programme? Has it produced any positive results so far? I doubt it.
Under that programme, the ministry had failed to produce first-class athletes.
Schools could not churn out athletes of calibre because of the restrictions imposed by the 1Pupils1Sport initiative.
Under the programme, pupils ended up as the losers because they could choose only one sport.
Some pupils ended up not choosing the sport they excelled in and instead were forced to accept the choice made by teachers.
To add salt to the wound, district, state and national-level competitions were held almost simultaneously and the all-round athletes were denied a chance to excel in various sports.
In the good old days, it was not surprising to see a student being an outstanding athlete and at the same time excel in his studies.
This was because competitions were stretched throughout the year and not concentrated and cramped into one month like what is happening now. Students had the opportunity to take part in many sports.
We had students who were footballers, hockey players as well as track and field athletes at the same time!
In the past decade or two, we hardly produced world-class athletes, save for the likes of Nicol David and Lee Chong Wei and even these athletes can be considered to be from the old school.
When the hands of the teachers are tied with policies deemed fit by the higher authorities, the whole purpose of nurturing the young ones to be good athletes is defeated.
The Ministry should not have intervened with unrealistic programmes for schools. The teachers involved in sports know best. They should be given a free hand in developing sports in their respective schools instead of being told what to do.
If the ministry is serious about uplifting the standard of sports, it should start by going back to basics. The good old method and the results speak for themselves.
Let’s be practical. Spread out the sports calendar for all levels of competitions. Allow pupils to excel in as many sports as possible when they are young and let them choose what they want when they are mature enough.
The interest in sports has diminished. There is no more fun. No more excitement.
During my school days, any game involving the school will have a large turnout of supporters. It would be like a big carnival. Teachers and pupils would turn up in full force to support their teams.
I have travelled with bus-loads of supporters all over Malaysia to cheer my school, King Edward VII of Tai-ping, be it for football, rugby or even track and field relay events.
There was so much enthusiasm and passion in us to rally behind our team.
Nowadays, a school team will be lucky to even have its headmaster or principal with the team. There will be hardly 10 supporters to cheer them on.
The glory of sports is missing with all the new of policies by the ministry.
Maybe those “up there” are not aware of the situation on the ground but the teachers do feel the heat and are unable to do anything about it.
The teachers have become mere “yes men” and dare not question the authorities for fear of being reprimanded and given low appraisal marks.
Many teachers are in limbo. The heart and mind are willing but the policies are stopping them. So, many take the easy way out by just doing what is being asked without questioning.
I hope the ministry will find ways to bring back the grand old days of sports instead of embarking on new policies such as the 1Pupil1Sport. It has not served its purpose.
Millions have been spent on the programme but where are the results? Mere slogans do not work.
Statistics from schools are produced to please the departments and ministry. In reality, there is nothing to shout about.