Shalin wants to be voice for athletes as administrator in NSC

Back-up plan: Shalin Zulkifli’s (right) first mission as the NSC executive officer is to encourage athletes to strike a balance between sports and studies.

PETALING JAYA: Bowling legend Shalin Zulkifli has come full circle by taking up a new post as the executive officer with the National Sports Council (NSC).

Aside from being a sports administrator with the government arm, the 43-year-old intends to be the voice for the athletes.

She reported for duty on Jan 3 under the NSC’s Malaysian athletes, career, education and welfare department.

“From an athlete to an administrator, I’ve come full circle,” said Shalin.

While she bowled, she had also doubled up as coach for Selangor in the Sukma (Malaysia Games) several times, served as an assistant secretary with the Malaysian Tenpin Bowling Congress (MTBC), was president of the athletes commission with the Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) and was the first Malaysian to bowl as a professional in the United States.

“As a sports administrator, I hope to bring to the table all my experience from junior, state, national and international levels over the decades. I know the challenges as an athlete. I can now look into areas that they need assistance,” she said.

“Yes, I hope to be their voice. I don’t know if I will be able to make a difference but I hope I do, even if it’s a small contribution.”

For a start, Shalin hopes to encourage many to strike a balance between sports and studies. She feels that having a good education will take them far when they end their sporting career or when they are dropped from the programmes.

Her heart goes out to the many who were dropped from the Podium Programme during the recent culling exercise following a massive budget cut. And that’s why she believes excelling in both studies and sports is important.

“During my younger days, scholarships for athletes were scarce but now, there are plenty of openings and opportunities,” said Shalin.

Shalin has a degree in Sports Psychology and Coaching from Universiti Malaya but it took her 10 semesters and six years to complete it.

“I used the money from my winnings to fund my study... it was difficult to do sports and studies at the same time but I’m glad that I persevered through it all. It’s worth it. I’ve something to fall back on now.

“Being dropped from the national programme is something that athletes can’t control and having to take a pay cut is another area that we have to deal with.

“I took a RM1,000 pay cut when I under-performed before and when there were budget cuts too. I’ve experienced the highs and lows as an athlete.

“So as an athlete, we need to be prepared. There is also the risk of being injured.

“We must have something to fall back on and I would encourage athletes to pursue their education even as they are training as full-time athletes,” she said.

Asked whether she had given up on bowling, the former world champion was quick to add: “No, I still intend to bowl as a professional in the US, but this needs to be discussed further with my current employer.”

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