Exclusive: NSI’s blueprint for success in sports

National Sports Institute chief operating officer Datuk Dr. Ramlan Aziz. - Filepic

The National Sports Institute (NSI) unveiled their 10-year blueprint recently with the hope of playing a more prominent role as the agent of change in Malaysian sport. Starsports’ RAJES PAUL spoke to NSI chief operating officer Datuk Dr Ramlan Aziz on the points that are set to transform the sports science unit.

Starsport: How different will this new 10-year blueprint be?
Dr Ramlan: NSI will move into a new time frame focusing on the Olympic Games cycle. Under this 2015-2025 cycle, we will cover three Olympic Games – in 2016, 2020 and 2024. It changes our focus completely. It’s not too long a time frame but one that will clearly chart the progress of our sports development in the next 10 years.

Starsport: What are the core areas of focus?
Dr Ramlan: We will focus on seven strategic areas: peak performances; grassroots talent development; research and innovation in sports; advanced sports education and certification; zero tolerance in doping; smart partnerships; and capacity building. It is a holistic approach ... one that is workable because of its clear structure and focus.

Starsport: It is good to note that NSI have included zero tolerance on doping. The NSI have been in the spotlight after several athletes failed their dope tests, including world No. 1 shuttler Lee Chong Wei. How much effort will be put into this area?
Dr Ramlan: The key will be on educating all the stakeholders – including athletes, officers and coaches. We will be more aggressive in assisting the athletes to know what they should and should not take. We will try to go to the lowest level to educate the athletes and conduct tests.

Starsport:All these approaches will be futile if the service providers are not efficient? How do you plan to tackle this?
Dr Ramlan: Training is essential for us to give the best services. We will seek to increase manpower. It is impossible for NSI to do it all. We’ll try to empower the coaches, officials and parents. There will be training of teachers too. With this, our reach can be wider.

Starsport:: Finance has always been an issue with NSI in the past. How can you sustain the 10-year plan?
Dr Ramlan: I’m glad that the budget has been increased. It will allow us to carry out some of our plans effectively. We do not plan to splurge but be cost-effective. 

Starsport: The NSI headquarters has the best facilities but not the centres in the states. How can we then make holistic changes?
Dr Ramlan: There are 7,743 primary schools nationwide and we have 81 multi-lateral development centres. We have one sports science satellite centre in every state. We plan to have basic tests at all levels. In the next 10 years, we want to ensure that every centre is able to carry out tests and that we have the manpower to do talent identification programmes. We will equip these centres. We will pay attention to all the states.

Starsport: Education is important ... yet many are least interested in this area. How to change the mindset?
Dr Ramlan:It has to start from the home and school. That’s why the role of parents and teachers is so important. We have plans to reach out to them so that they can be educated. 

Starsport: To make it work, it is important to have a good rapport with all the National Sports Associations (NSAs) and the National Sports Council (NSC). How is NSI’s relationship with them?
Dr Ramlan: We are here neither to dictate anyone nor to show who is in control. We are merely here to complement and work together with the NSC and NSAs. Under the new 10-year blueprint, we are able to work closer with all the NSAs through many of our strategic approaches. I hope, we will put aside whatever differences we have for the good of the sport.

Starsport: What do you see as a challenge in being the agent of transformation?
Dr Ramlan: Human resource. We need more qualified sports science experts in different fields. We also need coaches who are excited about the collaboration with sports science so as to tap the potential of their athletes. We also need parents who are supportive and athletes who are willing to trust and work together with us. There are still some reservations from people on what the NSI can do.
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