PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian cueists may have delivered medals of all colours in the SEA Games, both in Kuala Lumpur 2017 and Philippines 2019 but they still face a huge stumbling block in setting up their training centre.
The training centre in Sunway is deemed to be an entertainment outlet and only those aged above 18 can enter – which has put a huge dent in the Malaysian Snooker and Billiard Federation’s (MSBF) development programme.
On top of that, they also have to pay taxes to local authorities for the pool and snooker tables. The MSBF are now hoping for government intervention.
MSBF president Melvin Chia hopes to meet with Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican soon to get some assistance.
“We have talents as young as 12 but they cannot train at our centre because the local authorities deem it to be an entertainment centre. Besides that, we also have to pay taxes for the tables... we incur extra costs and it affects our training programme,” said Melvin.
“We have tried to appeal to the local authorities but I believe we need the support from the ministry to be successful.”
Melvin added the stigma of it being a parlour sport has long affected billiard’s and snooker’s image in the country.
The national cueists proved their mettle with golds from snooker doubles and silver from snooker singles at 2019 Philippines SEA Games after slumping to three bronzes at the 2017 Kuala Lumpur SEA Games.
The seasoned Moh Keen Hoo, who clinched the gold medal in the Philippines with fresh-faced Lim Kok Leong in the snooker doubles, has been a mainstay with the national set-up since 2005.
“We’re actually similar to bowling but they have shrugged off their parlour image and regularly perform for the country. We’re still seen in a negative light,” said Melvin.
“I’ve to admit that the snooker centre boom has expanded the sport but some people have used the snooker centres as a front for unsavoury or illegal activities, so we face a lot of challenges.
“We have a lot of talented youngsters and we need to find a solution. I hope a meeting with the Sports Minister will help,” said Melvin.
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