Give sports hope through policies, not more programmes

The stage is set for the inaugural Malaysia Little League, which will kick off this month. The event was launched by the Youth and Sports Ministry (KBS) and Education Ministry (MOE) mid-last month.

Instead of being inspired, private operators of grassroots football academies and learned fans seem rather restless.

In fact, some worry for the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM). This is because curiously, this football programme has nothing to do, yet again, with FAM.

There have been longstanding disputes between FAM and KBS over the development of grassroots football and the National Football Development Programme (NFDP). In recent times, the issue has been muted, yet keeping both parties on the fringe.

But the inaugural Malaysia Little League would seem to potentially reignite the discontent between the two entities – especially when the event seems to compete against FAM’s very own grassroots initiative, Suparimau.

It is public knowledge that FAM has not done enough. But to get back on track, the government must be advised to not only have the willingness to invest, but to also include stakeholders, especially the guardians of football – FAM.

A proactive solution to the challenges in beefing up Malaysia’s football must include open and real conversations regarding the reasons for our ‘sluggishness’, and whether there is a need to further invest in an age group that has already been catered to successfully by the NFDP.

The last thing we need is another reactive, knee-jerk solution, with no sustainable outcome. Given the poor correlation between grassroots development – which ends at the age of 18 – and the performances of Harimau Malaya, having another ‘little league’ may not serve as a solution.

Instead, the government should work towards the development of innovative policies to steer football, and other sports in general, towards better performances and sustainable growth.

All these beg the question – What is the progress of the Sports Satellite Account?

What we know is that the sports industry secretariat at KBS is currently occupied with organising an expo in October. Another event.

This would be acceptable if the event was their way of getting on with developing the satellite account.

Politicians are often told that drafting a public policy, just months before a general election, is simply satisfying, that the policy will impact the lives of millions, and that they will leave behind a legacy, long after they have left office.

But they will also be told that with today’s need for civic engagements, education, and to measure public sentiments, the process can be complicated and slow.

So, the best way to tackle this? Politicians are advised that they are much better off organising an event or programme to tick the box.

However, in actual fact, sports in Malaysia needs better policies, not more programmes. Period.

This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Twentytwo13.

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