The territorial mindset has to cease and the interest of tennis must come first for the sport to truly flourish.
Lawn Tennis Association of Malaysia honorary secretary Rahizam Rahim did not hold back when he singled out state sports councils and those organising the national schools sports council (MSSM) meet as being “unappreciative of help from those outside their system”.
“The stakeholders must stop being territorial. We are the national association, the guardian of the sport. We want to see the sport promoted extensively and played widely, especially at the grassroots,” said Rahizam.
“Instead we see certain quarters doubting our role in assisting their cause. We have nothing to gain except to help develop the sport further by working closely with the state sports councils and Education Ministry.”
He said it was sad that tennis will not be featured in the upcoming Malaysia Games (Sukma) in Perak.
“This is an OLYMPIC sport that has global appeal. Yet, it will not be contested in Sukma.”
Rahizam said LTAM was informed that the sport did not garner enough votes to be featured in the national games.
However, it is common knowledge that the hosts tend to organise sports where they have a good chance of winning medals with hopes of becoming overall champions.
“The decision to drop tennis from this year’s Sukma was made mid last year. Due to that, the development of the sport has been affected as it is not a priority for the respective state sports council and that hinders funding for the sport.
“And you will see a snowball effect. It remains unclear if the sport will be contested at the next Sukma in two years. Development programmes must be carried out continuously, not as and when required.”
Rahizam said LTAM had raised the matter with the previous Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin.
“We wrote to Khairy, asking him to include core sports, especially tennis, in Sukma. We even met his predecessor Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman recently and spoke about the same thing. Hopefully we don’t have to go through this every two years. Core sports should not be sacrificed.”
The sport has been excluded from previous editions of Sukma.
“The MSSM is another great place to identify talents. This is where it is crucial for the Education Ministry to work closely with the state tennis associations and LTAM to ensure our young talents evolve.
“It must be a situation where our school players receive the right training and not just prepare a week or two before the tournament.”
The on-going MSSM tennis meet in Perlis ends on Aug 10.
“Hopefully good relationships will be built between schools and the respective associations. We need to stop being territorial.
“Every stakeholder must play a part to help the sport grow.”
Tune in to BFM’s Bar None (89.9) this Saturday at 10am as Rahizam shares his insights about tennis in Malaysia.