THE 20th Malaysia Games (Sukma) witnessed the biggest surprise when Johor were named as the overall champions.
Johor’s maiden success saw them emerge as the new Sukma powerhouse since its inception in 1986.
The Games was often dominated by nine-time champions Selangor, Terengganu (five), Sarawak (three) and Federal Territories (two).
Despite being postponed for four years following the Covid-19 pandemic, the overall performance of the 6,643 athletes who participated in 31 types of sports has been very encouraging as a total of 21 national records were broken.
Their proud achievement proves that the National Sports Council (NSC) should give more attention to polishing new talents that have the potential to make the country proud on the international stage.
All said and done, kudos to the NSC as they managed to ensure that the Games ran smoothly.
However, the 20th edition also attracted some controversies and the organising committee should take note for future Games.
We also must not forget the original objective of the Games, which is to unearth new talents at state level for development and is meant for up-and-coming junior athletes.
The State Sports Council must prepare sports development programmes, specifically for participation in multi-sports games like Sukma.
The programme has many similarities with any national programmes, such as identifying elite athletes from 31 sports for training, identifying centres of excellence for them to train, overseas competitions, educational assistance, athletes’ assistance schemes and the annual budget.
The State Sports Council has probably implemented many programmes but no in-depth assessments of their success were ever made. The main aspects of the programmes have not changed much over the last 36 years, and while there was some success, it has been limited.
Sukma programmes must invest in more systematic scientific training systems which enable athletes to excel and continue to be the ‘’pool’’ that produces talented athletes to carry the country’s challenge at international level.
Can we bring back the Cabinet Committee for Sports, where 15 ministries sit as members, which underline the government’s seriousness in developing sports.
We must develop our grassroots programmes to cover all bases to have a bigger pool of athletes in all sports.
The Cabinet Committee’s allocation for mass sports, grassroots, core sports development, elite athletes and a start–up for the welfare fund, illustrates further the government’s support for sports.
Sports will always be an important aspect of the nation and I would like to do my part to put the nation on firm ground through it.