I REFER to your sports report titled “Ailing sports in need of ministering – and administering” (The Star, July 4,2020)
Why are we failing despite various sports ministers at the helm?
I am not sure how they are doing the job, is it at the macro level? We need to delegate and not micro-manage but the question must still be asked: why are the sports federations still the same?
First, football. The problem here is FIFA’s strange mandate that if anyone interferes with the domestic association, the association will be banned. That basically means that FAM can almost do whatever they want and the Youth and Sports Ministry have no absolute power over them.
The other issue is this, the separation of sports management at school level. The fields are here and if we want to nourish the grassroots, it has to be done here. The foundations must be strong.
The grassroots is not active and there is little dialogue between the Education Ministry, Youth and Sports Ministry and the FAM.
At this moment the rule is: a teacher must be present when kids are using the field. Even if coaches are there, a teacher must be present. And to get special permission to use the field, you need a letter from the district education office and that is only if the school says yes first.
The other thing is: you need a volunteer force as the players get older and more training is needed. One coach cannot do this. The Parent- Teacher Associations need to be involved. In Subang Jaya alone, there are about 10 schools in the USJ area. Are we tapping the talent? I talk about schools because they have the fields.
The municipality can also help with local fields but this has to be a concerted effort.
Coaching courses in FAM are held in long stints. For instance, the AFC C Licence takes about two weeks on the trot.
Can anyone actually leave their jobs and attend this?
Also, we need new coaching methods. The coaching curriculum has to change.
Former athletes do not necessarily make good coaches. You need to know psychology, fitness science, tactics, techniques and nutrition.
We need to teach coaches and administrators how to run a club at grassroots level, how to be a referee, how to spot talent, etc. Sport science alone is not enough.
Let’s take a look at badminton. Before the 1990s, we played badminton everywhere. A net between two houses in a lane immediately became a court. We also used house gates as a net, we had to adjust to winds and in some cases a hilly parkway. This made for creative players. The motor skills and body movements were tested to the maximum and when it came to actual badminton in a hall and a court, adapting was easy.
The same applied for football. Playing in playgrounds and on roads made the players creative and skilful and playing almost everyday made them fit. All these were before the era of the Internet.
So how do we simulate that? Do we go back and encourage the playing at the gates? Not likely, with apartments and high-rises becoming the norm. Solutions like Speedminton or Crossminton are great development tools for not just badminton, but squash too.
Players can play these anywhere and can simulate the motor skills of badminton, much like futsal as a development tool for football. This should be a blueprint for our badminton association.
The same with field hockey, where floorball can be a good sister sport for players as there are not many turfs around.
If we already have this structure and we are still not achieving what we need to – we really are in trouble.
Athletics and football grassroots coach
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