Make quick decisions, Olympian tells stakeholders

Running

More and more athletes are voicing concern over their fate as the stakeholders have yet to make concrete decisions on several pressing matters ahead of next year’s SEA Games and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

The grouses aired in recent weeks include the lack of direction by the Youth and Sports Ministry, the limited resources that could lead to slashing of budgets and funds for the athletes and their coaches, and the workings of a new programme to replace the now-defunct Podium Programme.

Athletes said their questions were left unanswered during a meeting with the National Sports Council (NSC) and National Sports Institute (NSI) last Friday, as reported by Twentytwo13. A similar meeting was held with Kita Juara athletes a day earlier.

Olympian Noraseela Khalid, who is Olympic Council of Malaysia Athletes’ Commission chairperson, said decisions must be made quickly as every second matters to athletes.

However, she was quick to add it was of no use to play the blame game as stakeholders – NSC and NSI – also faced predicaments of their own and athletes should be wise in raising issues.

“The commission had a meeting with the athletes last Thursday. The athletes understand they have a contract (with NSC) and it ends on Dec 31. Representatives from NSC and NSI have met these athletes to inform them that their contracts will be renewed based on their current performances,” said Noraseela.

“Of course (the uncertainty) is a concern to them … for example, some of them said some sports will not be included in the 2019 SEA Games and they fear they will not be part of any new programme but they are looking forward to competing at bigger regional and international competitions.”

The NSC contracts for athletes usually end on Dec 31. However, there have been concerns as some of the coaches have not had their contracts renewed since the Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games ended on Sept 2.

The Pakatan Harapan government has repeatedly said the nation’s coffers are in bad shape as a result of corrupt practices and wrong-doings by the previous Barisan Nasional government. Observers fear this could impact the preparation of athletes for major international multi-sports events like the Olympics, Asian Games and Commonwealth Games.

“The fate of their coaches also remains uncertain. So naturally the athletes are concerned. But I heard NSC and NSI will have more meetings with the national sports athletes to discuss programmes and hopefully all these matters will be resolved before the year ends,” she said

“We are here to assist, to show the athletes the right way (of doing things). It’s not just about complaining but using the right venues to raise issues. Athletes must also be mindful of the predicament faced by NSC and NSI.”

Noraseela and several national athletes had met Deputy Youth and Sports Minister Steven Sim two weeks ago.

“He (Sim) wanted to meet the athletes, to hear the views and opinions of the athletes. He listened to our views and was happy to hear them from the athletes first-hand.”

Steven Sim and athletes
Sim is joined by Noraseela (on his right) and several national athletes two weeks ago. Image by Loh Jack Chang / Facebook

While remaining diplomatic over the issue, Noraseela hoped the athletes would not feel demotivated.

“I understand (athletes) and people need to understand athletes … if athletes don’t train for five days, it’s already a loss.”

“Every single decision is crucial for the athletes. Sports is dynamic and time is of the essence.”

In general, a new programme is revealed each time a new minister enters office. Noraseela insisted long-term programmes that are tweaked along the way should be implemented instead.

“Decisions must be made, and they must be made quickly,” she added