New man at helm must know his stuff

WHEN Tan Sri Elyas Omar walks out of the Sports Commissioner office, he will have one main wish – that the right man should take over from him and strengthen the national associations as far as managing their houses are concerned.

Newly appointed Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Ismail Sabri Yaakob will name the man of his choice soon.

Speculation, however, is rife that former National Sports Council (NSC) director-general Datuk Wira Mazlan Ahmad could be the man.

According to Elyas, whoever gets the job had better be prepared for a difficult time.

He should know. He has gone through some of the most challenging times in his bid to manage the sports association.

In fact, he has been in the news more for his efforts in trying to solve the various conflicts in golf, taekwondo, badminton, fencing and football than for his work to train and educate his staff and the sports associations on administration matters.

“The man who will replace me must have some management experience – either as a government or sports officer. It will be better if he has had experience running a sports association or worked at the Sports Ministry and the NSC (National Sports Council).

“It is also important to have some form of legal knowledge,” said Elyas, who holds a Masters degree in administrative law.

This knowledge in law, he said, would come in handy as the new Sports Commissioner would have to deal with the various constitutional problems of sports association.

“The constitution is the backbone of managing sports at the national, state and club levels. The problem is that most associations do not understand their own constitutions. There are either mistakes (in the constitutions) or members misinterpreting things. It is not easy to understand the constitutions,” he said.

“In fact, 90% of the conflicts in the sport bodies are related to their constitutions.”

In his three years in office, Elyas said he had focused on getting sports associations to be aware of registering with the Sports Commissioner’s office and not the Registrar of Societies (ROS).

“I am the first Sports Commissioner to work on a full-time basis. And I realised that one of the major problems was the registration of sports bodies.

“This problem arises when some are registered with the ROS and another group from the same sport are registered with us,” said Elyas.

“We had made it clear that all sports bodies had to be registered with us. Sadly, our advice fell on deaf ears.”

As for the way national associations are managed, Elyas rated them at a lowly four on a scale of one to 10.

Last year, only 50% of the 270 registered sports associations sent in their reports to the Sports Commissioner’s office.

“The Sports Commissioner has to juggle so many roles – as an arbitrator, motivator, facilitator, investigator and, sometimes, a prosecutor. Our role is to guide the sports bodies to train their leaders to manage and organise better.

“It is unfortunate that our sports bodies are still lagging behind in terms of having the right people to do their work professionally,” he said.

Elyas said that his only regret was the lack of respect shown by several people, including sports officials, towards him.

He, however, admitted that the Sports Commissioner’s role could be further strengthened, saying that there was a need for his staff to be better trained on managing sports bodies.

“We (at the Sports Commissioner’s office) also must have the knowledge of the rules and regulations of the international bodies before making any changes to the Sports Act,” he said.

“Some international bodies, like FIFA, do not like interference from governments and we must be sensitive to that. We can intervene to solve a problem but it should not been misconstrued as interference.”

Elyas knows he has ruffled some feathers during his three-year tenure but he was adamant that all he had done was for the good of the sport.

And now he is ready to bow out with his head held high.

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