For Covid’s sake! Help the players who really need a hand

  • Say What
  • Saturday, 01 Aug 2020

File photo of Goh Giap Chin during the Malaysia SS Purple League at Arena of Stars in Genting Highlands. - MUHAMAD SHAHRIL ROSLI/The star.

RADHA Thakur is a seven-time district badminton champion in Agra in India. It hasn’t done her much good.

She is selling her badminton racquet for between Rs1,000-2,000 (RM57-RM113) to cover her family’s meals for three days.

She is financially crippled and seeking help from the country’s Prime Minister and her state’s Chief Minister. No assistance however, has reached her yet – and it could be the end to the career of a promising future star.

Hers is not an isolated case.

In Malaysia, it’s all over for independent shuttler Goh Giap Chin – he has quit the sport outright because of the financial impact caused by the Covid-19 virus.

With no tournaments, and his sponsors also hit by the business downturn, the former men’s singles player’s income has been affected. His only option now is to stop playing and start something new, and he plans to go into coaching.

Then, there are the professional football players from Kedah, who have not been paid their salaries for five months.

The state, under a different leadership from the one that promised just months ago to pay up, is refusing to fork out a single sen for them.

That has left the players disappointed and demoralised, just three weeks before the M-League is set to restart.

All the athletes above, be they at development, independent or professional levels, have seen their livelihoods affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

And they are just a small sampling of the many cases out there, all suffering in silence. Some may ask if these athletes really need help. After all, many others from other sectors are struggling too.

But there are those who can – no, they are duty-bound – to help.

For badminton, one would have thought that the Badminton World Federation would have come out with some contingency plan to help ease the burden of players and members, especially those from the hard-hit badminton nations.

But the world body, with millions in their kitty, have been silent on the financial aid.

It’s a pity, too, that the Kedah players have been left in a lurch when football is a money-spinning sport.

The state’s top leaders say they prefer to help the poor but the irony is – we hear of states where millions are spent on personal needs of leaders or, worse, to buy off state assemblymen.

And where is the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) in all this? Are they not making any effort to help the players? The clubs may be fined, have points docked and even banned, but it is the players who have no food on their table.

There are some organisations, though, who have stepped up to lend a hand to the core members of their sport.

The owners of the Malaysian Cub Prix Championships have shown they care by introducing minimum wage for all their CP150 riders instead of sticking with their performance-based payment.

They understood that the riders’ rice bowls are affected following the cancellation of all their races and decided to reinvent for the sake of their riders’ welfare, That is thinking out of the box – and deserves a standing ovation!

Many other international bodies too, including International Olympic Committee, FIFA and International Tennis Federation, have come out with their pandemic relief efforts to help their members and athletes cope.

Tennis took the initiative one step further when they compensated even the lower ranked players.

They even distributed this year’s Wimbledon prize money equally to all participants when the event was called off. That’s how you give back to the players who are the integral part of the sport.

The Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) has showed up in the hour of need by endorsing RM300,000 for their members while the Sports Ministry approved RM10mil aid to sports associations.

These are commendable but the question is: who will get the RM10mil and how will it be distributed? Will the deserving and the hard-hit ones get the aid they so desperately need?

It’s athletes like the Radhas, Giap Chins and the Kedah players, who should get the help, not some middlemen.

The Covid-19 is a dangerous virus. But greed can be far more dangerous. Let’s get rid of both!

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