The recent Bukit Jalil Sports School controversy — on the intake of badminton and hockeyplayers into Form One — has shown a lack of cooperation between the Education andSports Ministries in their roles to develop sports at the grassroots level.
IT WAS the school holidays. A time for fun and frolic.
Yet, three 12-year-old shuttlers – Soong Joo Ven, Darren Isaac and Ong Yew Sin – spent their December holidays worried sick about their entry into the Bukit Jalil Sports School (BJSS).
The country’s top three junior badminton players found out that they were not good enough to get into the elite sports school all because they failed to turn up for a second selection, organised by the Department of Physical and Sports Education (JPJS) a day after Christmas.
It was on short notice and the boys could not make it.
It did not count that the trio had earlier made it on merit – with excellent results in the first selection carried out by the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM).
Sorry, the BAM trial does not count, say JPJS.
Many parents made a hue and cry. And finally, the Education Department relented and promised to hold another selection for those who missed the second trial.
It was the second controversy to hit the BJSS regarding the intake of Form One students this year.
Just days earlier, JPJS announced that there would be no intake of hockey players in Form One for this year.
The announcement caught many by surprise as BJSS had won many accolades in hockey.
Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) vice-president Datuk Dr S. S. Cheema raised a valid point when he said: “This decision will have a severe effect on the development of hockey in the country. And later, we (MHC) will be blamed for the downfall of the sport.”
No one likes to be blamed. And the JPJS are not to be entirely blamed either.
In a bid to strengthen and revive their role as one of the playmakers in Malaysian sports, they are in the midst of revamping and streamlining their selection process for all sports in their programme.
And according to them, even the Sports Ministry had agreed to the changes at a joint meeting between the two ministries – education and sports.
But why were the National Sports Associations (NSA) not informed of these new policies?
Is it the job of the Education Ministry or that of the Sports Ministry, through its arm – National Sports Council (NSC)?
How are their working relationships?
In the case of the badminton players, BAM would not have wasted their time, energy and resources to conduct their own nation-wide selection if they were aware of these new policies.
In fact, the BAM would have gladly worked together with the JPJS over the selection.
And it would have saved the young players and their parents all the agony, stress and anxiety.
The root of the matter is the lack of cooperation within the groups that are dealing with the BJSS.
And former NSC director general Datuk Wira Mazlan Ahmad, who is now the chairman of the Education Ministry’s sport’s advisory panel, agreed that what Malaysia needed was genuine co-operation.
“I admit that there could be a lack of professionalism during the badminton selection. But JPJS are in the midst of a transition. All these can be improved on,” said Mazlan.
“But more than these administrative matters, there need to be a spirit of co-operation among all the playmakers – the Sports Ministry, the NSAs, the NSC and the Education Ministry.
“Like the good old days, schools can play a big role in strengthening the sports development programme.
“There should not be any suspicion of each other’s roles but rather, all should work together.”
After all, isn’t it the objective of BJSS to house the nation’s best young sporting talents and to nurture them into world beaters?
The sooner the parties involved work out their differences, the better it will be for the youngsters, whose only wish is to get into the sports school and achieve their dreams of sporting glory one day.
And youngsters won’t have their holidays ruined again.