KLANG’S SMK Bukit Tinggi Cricket Club had their coffers topped up handsomely after receiving RM8,000 from Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) to develop the sport.
The contribution could not have come at a better time as the girls squad make final preparations for their maiden competition, the Education Ministry’s Champion School Cricket Tournament which starts today until Oct 25.
TNB is no stranger to the sports arena — being a sponsoring partner with the Malaysian Hockey Confederation — has also been stalwart at encouraging sports and its development within and beyond its operating arms for decades.
TNB Smart Billing project director Datuk Mohandass S. Nair, who presented the cheque to SMK Bukit Tinggi headmaster Sabri Baharom, said the culture of encouraging sports permeated throughout the entire company and its subsidiaries, especially where the younger generation is concerned.
“Even since the days of Lembaga Letrik Negara (National Electricity Board), many of our staff were former national athletes in various sports, such as Punch Gunalan in badminton, Foo Keat Seong and Sayuti Abdul Samad in hockey, just to name a few,” said Mohandass, who himself is a former state hockey player.
“I hope that TNB’s contribution will spur them on to win competitions and produce athletes for the state in their journey to become champions of Selangor in the future.”
School headmaster Sabri Baharom thanked Mohandass and SMK Bukit Tinggi cricket club parents representative R. Sri Muhunan for making the contribution to the club possible.
“We are very lucky to have TNB’s support. With this, I hope that cricket will flourish to be the school’s signature sport someday and be the benchmark of other schools along with the players.”
Even though not considered by many locals to be a mainstream sport, the school’s cricket club challenges that notion with a good number of students: 36 girls and 45 boys training weekly.
Under the guidance of teacher and team manager Nadiathul Asykin and assisted by teacher Mohd Farouk Shah Harun, the club started off with only a boys team, formed in 2016, followed by the girls team which was formed only three months ago.
Their coaches, Mohd Ikhmal Hafizi Hairudin from SK Bukit Tinggi and former state cricketeer K. Tharmanathan, provide training to the students on a voluntary basis.
Nadiathul said despite most of the girls starting with zero exposure to the sport, the number of students interested in the sport and their ability bloomed in just a short span of time.
Having Dhanusri Muhunan, the youngest female national cricket player in the country — playing in the national squad for the Women’s T20 Asia Cup in June — was also a factor in the formation of the club as the state education department was looking to develop the sport among schoolgirls.
“We started with six students but it grew so fast,” she said, adding that the girls have been playing friendly matches against the boys and has even managed to beat them on one occasion.
“The boys have had more exposure with district level tournaments, but the girls are very disciplined.
“Based on the scoring so far, I’m very happy and surprised with the girls because they have progressed this quickly since most of them had no knowledge and experience of cricket before this.”
The girl’s squad will represent the Klang education district in the Under-18 girls tournament where they will meet Petaling Perdana, Petaling Utama and Kuala Langat.
Nadiathul said the RM8,000 contribution by TNB will cover training expenses and allow the club to purchase additional equipment for the girls and cover training expenses.
“Our main priority is to get them properly sized equipment because the girls have so far been training using boys-sized equipment and tennis balls,” she explained.
“I don’t have any expectations on the girls for the tournament yet, but we are aiming to win it.”