Politicians step aside – give way to former athletes to run sports bodies

Mohd Azlan Iskandar is proud to be a Malaysian and is looking forward for this year's #AnakAnakMalaysia Walk.

SYED Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman had wanted to stop politicians, especially Members of Parliament, to refrain from accepting any appointments to lead sports associations in the country when he was serving as the Youth and Sports Minister back in 2018.

But it was all lip service really as not much has changed in the Malaysian sports landscape.

Power is intoxicating and those at the top find it hard to let go of their positions as long as they feel they are still enjoying the support from the affiliates.

Malaysia Swimming (MS) have been headed by Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim, who is the MP for Arau, for more than two decades.

But one wonders why the association are still dependent on the National Sports Council (NSC) for funding.

Diving is one of the sports that has produced two Olympic medals for the country so far and certainly more can be done to attract sponsors but it’s sad the sport led by Shahidan is still banking on the NSC for funding.

So is the Malaysian National Cycling Federation (MNCF), who have been headed by Datuk Abu Samah Wahab for sometime but are also mostly counting on the NSC for financial support.

The fact that they have one of the best keirin cyclists in the world in Azizulhasni Awang, who has gone on to win the world title and an Olympic bronze medal, should have been the perfect launchpad for the MNCF to help produce more world beaters.

But that’s not the case as the association are still scraping the barrel for talents.

The Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM), however, have proven to be self-sufficient in terms of resourcing for money to fund their programme.

Their president Tan Sri Norza Zakaria has been working hard to ensure the national body are financially secure and the training programme runs well.

The BAM are probably one of the more financially healthy national sports bodies, especially in the last few years when former world No. 1 and two-time Olympics silver medallist Lee Chong Wei was at the top of his game.

It is fair if the politician or businessman head the sport if they are able to help bring the financial support and have the interest in the sport too.

But maybe, it will be better if we give former athletes who are now successful in the private sector the chance to run the show.

I am sure there are worthy candidates out there who can be coaxed to return to serve the sports associations if they had once been part of the system.

The Malaysian Tenpin Bowling Congress (MTBC) are one of the better run associations in the country and there is no shortage of talents coming up the ranks.

Guess who is running the show? It’s none other than Datuk Dr P.S. Nathan, a former Asian Games gold medallist.

Former Asian Games medallist Syed Abu Bakar Almohdzar has also taken over the reins of the Equestrian Association of Malaysia at the beginning of the year while it is also refreshing to see former internationals Azlan Iskandar and Sharon Wee now contributing back to the Squash Racquets Association of Malaysia (SRAM) as the newly elected deputy president and vice-president respectively.

Azlan and Sharon went through the grind before and will know what it’s like to look after the welfare of the athletes and make sure squash continues to be a relevant sport in the country.

So, let’s give former athletes the chance to run the show as the worthy leaders.

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