NSA must keep their fingers on the pulse in digital age

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  • Saturday, 27 Jun 2020

TAN Sri Ghani Minhat is known as “Raja Bola” (the King of Football) in Malaysia. He scored more than 100 international goals in his career and more than 300 goals for Selangor. You can find that in Wikipedia.

However, there are no official statistics to back any of these claims.

The same goes for another legend “Supermokh” Mokhtar Dahari, who is said to have earned 167 caps, scored 125 goals for country and another 175 goals for Selangor. It’s all, well..., stuff of legend and not established fact.

There’s nothing to be found in the websites of the NSAs (national sports associations) – if they have a website, in the first place.

Which is why the recent announcement of a RM3mil grant to assist associations turn to digitalisation was really interesting.

The RM3mil is part of a RM10 million allocation for the sports industry to get going again after the pandemic. RM2mil will be distributed as administrative grants of between RM5,000 and RM10,000 to almost 200 national sports bodies registered with the Sports Commissioner’s Office.

Another RM5mil will be for the organisation of activities which focus on development and promotion, while the rest will be for digitalisation.

It’s a foregone conclusion that the NSAs will be wasting no time in rushing to doorsteps of the Youth and Sports Ministry to hand in their application for the grants.

The big question is what they plan to do with the grants. It’s embarrassing that almost three-quarters of the 56 NSAs affiliated to the Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) do not have a website.

It is not surprising, to say the least. Even the umbrella body, the Olympic Council of Malaysia, do not have a proper digitalisation system in place despite having the funds.

For years, sports journalists have either gone through archives or relied on Wikipedia to check on things when it comes to performances of athletes in previous multi-sports Games.

Take, for example, the Malaysia Athletics Federation (MAF) and Amateur Swimming Union of Malaysia (Asum).

They are the custodians of the two blue riband sports at a multi-games event but sadly, there is no way you can rely on them for facts on numerous icons who have carried the torch proudly for them in the past.

Asum, at least, have a functioning website but only to list out coaching activities and events organised by them. MAF have none. For information of local athletics, sportswriters seek out a Singaporean website.

It is only in the non-Olympic sports like squash and bowling that dedicated sports officials take the initiative to promote their activities on Facebook and Twitter.

Badminton and football do provide updates on their events on social media but that is more likely due to sponsor requirements for social presence.

It is indeed a sad reflection of our appreciation for our sports greats.

The stories of how these sports greats performed and how they got to the top of their disciplines can inspire the younger generation. Sadly, these greats have just become footnotes in history.

OCM have the funds but can do better to embrace – and encourage the NSAs to embrace – our champions by developing better digital content.

We can learn a lot from countries like Australia, United States and our neighbours Singapore.

They have not just updates and interviews with their top athletes but also solid documentation of their national records and achievements.

Most of our NSAs are just content with getting funding from the National Sports Council and turn a blind eye to the fact that they need to market themselves differently in the digitalised world we now live in.

Sports in the 21st century is all about making your athletes marketable through social media presence. Digitalisation is the way to go.

Let’s just hope our NSAs keep their fingers on the pulse of things – and that the RM3mil does not just go down the drain.

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