Safe Sport: Everyone must speak up to protect athletes

I have been practising rhythmic gymnastics for 10 years and have always felt safe and loved at my club – Sarina Rhythmic Gymnastics Club (SRGC).

My coach, Sarina Sundara Rajah, an advocate of Safe Sport, provides us with a safe space to practice the sport we love the most.

Coach Sarina is also president of Safe Sport Malaysia – an independent non-profit organisation committed to building a sports community where participants can train, compete, and thrive without fear of abuse and misconduct.

Sadly, there are many cases of coaches physically or mentally abusing their athletes.

It has happened in many sports – basketball, figure skating, swimming, badminton, and athletics, among others. I feel sorry for those who have suffered these abuses.

As an athlete, I want to highlight Safe Sport and spread awareness about it. You can read more about it at the Olympic Council of Malaysia’s website.

Being an athlete takes time, discipline, and hard work. Most importantly, motivation. Athletes need plenty of motivation because there are times when they feel like quitting, but this motivation helps them stay strong and continue with what they love.

For example, if a coach scolds their athletes for making a mistake, it’s normal because that’s their job. But there are times when they can go too far.

If a coach scolds their students using words they shouldn’t use, or words that could hurt them, or if they hit or touch their students where they feel uncomfortable, it can cause the athlete to lose motivation and give up.

So, if you are going through this, whether you are an athlete or not, remember to say ‘no’ and go to someone you can talk to.

Don’t be afraid to speak up. If the training facilities are dangerous, you have the right to speak up, too.

I hope the people reading this article can help spread awareness about Safe Sport. Together, we can make every venue safe for everyone.

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