Jaganathan welcomes new role with enthusiasm

Good ol’ days: (From left) Jaganathan, Abdul Latif and Ridzuan.

PETALING JAYA: From being a father figure to para-athletes to becoming role models for coaches, R. Jaganathan is ready for a switch in his duty.

The National Sports Council (NSC) have decided not to extend Jaganathan’s contract as the head coach but have instead made him the coaching director for coaches. The coaching job has been given to his assistant – Ahmad Rafee Arifin.

Jaganathan’s role is to groom young coaches to ensure there would be continuity and success.

Jaganathan said he could not wait to start his new task.

“I have been coaching para athletes from 2001-2021. Now I want to impart my knowledge to young coaches. I want these coaches to continue the success that we’ve achieved over the years,” said Jaganathan.

“Training para athletes is a unique experience. I want to develop programmes, educate the current coaches and hopefully see results in the future.

“We need more coaches at the grassroots level. By expanding the pool of coaches at the lower level we can have more depth and better quality para athletes. Most of the time, the athletes at the lower level get neglected.”

Jaganathan is seen as a father to many of the disabled athletes.

In fact, Paralympic gold-medal winner Ridzuan Mohd Puzi had made an emotional plea to reinstate Jaganathan as he prepares for the 2024 Paris Paralympics.

Jaganathan said he understood Ridzuan’s emotional state.

“Yes, Ridzuan is sad because I’ll not be there. I’ve been with him for 10 years but it is time to let the young ones lead.

“But I will always be there for these athletes. I will ensure that their coaches look after their needs. I can’t just let them go.

“Ridzuan is like my son. I will always be there to help.”

Under Jaganathan’s tutelage, athletes like Ridzuan (100m T36), Mohd Ziyad Zolkefli (shot putt F20), Abdul Latif Romly (long jump F20) have won gold at the Paralympics.

NSC director-general Datuk Ahmad Shapawi Ismail said the nation needed more quality coaches and believed Jaganathan could help improve the shortage.

“To unearth talents, you need qualified coaches, not just athletes. We want to tap into his knowledge.

“He will remain a part of the Paraly-mpics scene here. This is a big role that we are giving and he is the best person to do it.”

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