PETALING JAYA: All talk was about Budget 2015 – and the government’s RM103mil allocation towards sports.
The government allocated the amount as it seeks to drive the country towards being a sporting nation.
The Sporting Nation blueprint will see the start of the Malaysian Talent Identification programme, which involves testing, screening and talent specialisation among primary school students and the FitMalaysia Programme, with a focus on physical fitness.
The first Saturday of every November has also been declared as the National Sports Day.
The most compelling part of the blueprint, however, has to be the focus on improving the quality of six high-performance sports under the first phase – football, badminton, athletics, cycling, swimming and sepaktakraw.
Below is what these six National Sports Associations (NSAs) have to say about the windfall.
THE inclusion of sepaktakraw seems to be an endorsement of belief in, as well as a lifeline to revive, the fortunes of the sport.
Sepaktakraw Association of Malaysia (STAM) president Datuk Ahmad Ismail said: “We are so grateful to the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak for his vision to elevate sports in the country and also to (Youth and) Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin.
“This is a shot in the arm for us. And it is very timely as this means we will now have the means to implement the development plans ... something we have been preparing for since 2011.
“Last time, Saturday evenings and Sunday nights were know as the ‘Malam bola Malaysia’. Well, not any more as the sepaktakraw league will be broadcast live on TV on Saturday evenings and Sunday nights on terrestrial TV and Astro.”
Ahmad was referring to the three-month long nationwide sepaktakraw league which is set to begin next month.
The Amateur Swimming Union of Malaysia (Asum) have hailed the timely inclusion of swimming as one of the six core sports to be improved under the new national Budget announcement.
Asum secretary general Edwin Chong admitted that the standard of the national
swimmers had declined and that Malaysia could even fail to win a single gold when the country hosts the 2017 SEA Games.
But the increased allocation will help revive Malaysian swimming’s fotunes.
“I really like to thank the Prime Minister for including swimming as one of the six sports in the first phase, it’s just timely” said Edwin.
“We have sat down for long meetings with Sports Minister Khairy (Jamaluddin) during the Glasgow Commonwealth Games and Incheon Asian Games recently, and he has assured us of continued financial backing.
“Asum are in dire need of financial assistance. The decline of our swimmers have also resulted in less allocation.”
Better days are ahead, indeed.
The FA of Malaysia (FAM) believe that the future is bright for the sport, which has come under fire over the last few decades.
FAM secretary general Datuk Hamidin Mohd Amin believes there is hope to take the game to new heights following the government’s support and strong backing.
“We express our gratitude to the Prime Minister for selecting football as one of the core sport under the Budget. We are confident that with their assistance and our own development programmes, we can achieve our goal,” said Hamidin, who added that the support would allow them to look at a wider base of talents.
“We can work on quantity and quality now,” said Hamidin.
Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) secretary Ng Chin Chai is glad that more emphasis is being given to the elite programme.
This is timely as BAM are seriously looking at improving our development programme and finding new talents to strengthen our elite programme,” he said.
“With more money, we will be able to focus on specific programmes for the elite shuttlers. It will also help in the appointment of better coaches to strengthen our training base. It will also help us in our mission to find technical experts or a high performance director to look into our coaching and training programmes.”
Malaysian Athletics Federation (MAF) president Datuk Zainal Abidin Ahmad gave the new Budget the thumbs-up.
“It is an excellent approach to help improve the standard of athletics. In the past, we received minimum financial support from the private sector for competitions and could not carry out most of our development programmes due to the lack of funds,” he said.
“With the bigger budget, we can run the grassroots programme throughout the country to find talented athletes.
“The strong support from the government will help propel athletics to a new horizon. We can look forward for better days.”
Malaysian National Cycling Federation (MNCF) deputy president Datuk Naim Mohamed thanked the government for continuing to believe in cycling as one of the high-performance sports.
“It’s a big honour for cycling to be included and I’d like to thank the Prime Minister and the Youth and Sports Minister for continuing to believe that we can still contribute on the international stage.
“We assure that emphasis will not only be on the elite athletes, but on all young talents. We will not let the rakyat or the government down.”
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