Bigger sport allocation is good, but athletes must get to enjoy bulk of it

EVERY year, the announcement on the budget for the Youth and Sports Ministry will draw different reactions but the one allocated in 2014 received a thunderous applause.The total amount breached the billion ringgit mark when it was increased from RM700mil to RM1bil.

The ministry promised the moon to all its stakeholders.

Top on their distribution list for sports was grassroots programmes.

And they assured more would be given to six core sports – football, cycling, badminton, sepak takraw, swimming and athletics.

Unfortunately, six years down the road, some of these sports are still mired with problems and still scraping the barrel in search of new talents.

In 2017, the sports fraternity received another shot in the arm, receiving an allocation of RM1.2bil.

A total of RM450mil went to hosting the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games in which Malaysia eventually became overall champions with 145 gold medals.

And what did these athletes get as an incentive? A total payout of RM3mil for the gold medal winners.

There were bigger winners, of course, those who raked in millions via sports business contracts.

And do you know how many of these 2017 SEA Games winners have taken over the mantle from their seniors? How many have qualified for the Olympics? And how many have become Asian and Commonwealth Games champions? Sadly, not many.

In the same year (2017), an additional budget of RM122mil was given for constructing and upgrading of facilities. In 2019, there were more money pumped in for refurbishing work under the budget as well.

How many times do we need to do all these facelifts? Is anyone looking into the maintenance aspect?

Can we get an efficient team to monitor the wear and tear?

I’m all for sports being given a large budget.

The number of athletes and coaches has grown, there are more sports science experts and there are more expenses.

One has to acknowledge that sport has grown into a big industry but big bucks mean bigger responsibility and transparency.

Every penny spent needs to be justified and the athletes must get to enjoy the bulk of it.

We still keep hearing of athletes struggling with finances. Sports is their livelihood and they should be treated just like any other working person.

In retrospect we should now be asking the question – will the budget allocated for next year be spent wisely?

Yesterday, the ministry received RM300mil – RM225mil will go for sports.

Some of it will go to helping sports recover from the grave effect of the Covid-19 pandemic that have crippled most of the sports activities.

The ministry and the National Sports Council have to channel it to the right people. And there has to be element of transparency and accountability.

Malaysian sports have to beware. There are many opportunists out there, more so, in times of trouble.

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