Podium Programme town hall, post mortem or session to crucify NSI?

Podium Programme

To merely highlight the long list of sports programmes over the years is sheer rhetoric.

The programmes, supposedly to push Malaysian sports to great heights, somehow seems to satisfy the hunger of ego-driven individuals keen on leaving legacies.

The outcome – and after millions of ringgit of taxpayers’ money spent – has been forgettable.

The numbers say it all. The graph of our sporting excellence over the years is evident. The results – sad.

Today marks the beginning of a two-day post mortem workshop for the Podium Programme – a programme parked under the National Sports Institute (NSI) which has come under fire following the national contingent’s dismal performances at the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games.

The Malaysian contingent managed seven gold medals at each of the Games. The overall medal haul was not impressive either compared to that at previous editions.

The Podium Programme’s objective was a top 10 finish at both multi-sports events. But Malaysia finished 12th in Gold Coast and 14th at the Jakarta-Palembang regional Games. That’s two blows for the multi-million ringgit programme.

But let’s not forget the National Sports Council’s (NSC) Kita Juara programme. After achieving 145 gold medals en route to being named overall leaders in the medal tally at last year’s Kuala Lumpur SEA Games, the athletes under the said programme have failed to impress since.

Millions of ringgit too have been spent on that programme and it’s surprising that no “jawatankuasa” (committee) was set up or “post mortem workshop” carried out to scrutinise the programme.

So what will come out from the two-day workshop? The first few hours will see individuals trying hard to justify their existence, followed by the blame game.

Egos will clash, tempers may rise but many will kiss and make up at the end of Day 2 – and five years down the road, we could see the birth of yet another sports programme to serve the interest of another decision maker eager to leave a legacy.

So Should NSI regard this as a ‘town hall’, post mortem workshop or brace for a possible crucifixion by their rivals?

Certain parties will pit the NSC and NSI against each other when in fact both agencies had failed. But instead of pointing fingers, efforts must be taken to encourage and help both agencies to grow together.

There are demands to shut down the Podium Programme and some have even gone to the extent of wanting NSI to be part of NSC.

How will all these help Malaysian sports?

In fact, do we even need programmes in the first place – programmes that do not seem to have any focus but just to rope in every promising athlete in the hope of finding the nation’s elusive gold medal at the Olympics.

Regardless if the national athlete is a product of Podium Programme or Kita Juara, he or she represents the country, the people of this land.

Had our national heroes returned with a handsome haul from their two major assignments, one would expect to see every Ali, Ah Chong and Muthu jumping on the bandwagon, claiming credit for their successes.

Winning and losing is part of sports. The powers-that-be have lost in their game to chart the fortunes of Malaysian sports. And it is a result of doing the same thing but expecting different outcomes over the years.

Perhaps the way forward is to forget about programmes and start treating all athletes the same. Those who shine, regardless of sport, should be assisted. And if the focus remains on winning Malaysia’s first Olympic gold medal – then we should start focusing on the sports that can bring us that glory.

It is easy to axe bodies and replace them. But we also need a workable formula that begins from the grassroots – a formula that keeps going but is tweaked along the way to ensure continuity.

The last thing we need is a tussle over the ownership of a multi-million ringgit sports programme.