Big business, yet Malaysia missing out on sports industry

School children

Frustration was written all over Associate Professor Dr Megat Ahmad Kamaluddin Megat Daud’s face as he sipped his teh tarik.

The Universiti Malaya lecturer has conducted numerous studies and researches regarding sports in Malaysia and the region. Yet, he remains unsure if his papers have ever been read by the powers-that-be.

“So much time, money and manpower have been spent but I still don’t know if the hard work by my team and me has been put to good use,” said Megat Ahmad.

Megat Ahmad was tasked to spearhead the study ‘Asean Fifa World Cup 2034: The feasibility report’ – an idea conceptualised at the 2010 Asean Senior Officials Meeting on Sports. The findings of the study was presented to the Youth and Sports Ministry in 2017 but never made public.

He also collaborated with the National Sports Council (NSC) to conduct studies and provide paperwork regarding the sports industry in Malaysia – a topic which former Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek spoke enthusiastically about during his tenure – and reviewed the National Sports Administration Course.

“The subject of sports industry is close to my heart. During the National Sports Industry Lab in 2010, it was revealed that the sports industry in Malaysia in 2009 was estimated at RM30.2 billion. In 2013, based on my research, it was RM37.78 billion,” he said.

“There has not been any study since and based on my estimate, the value has surpassed RM40 billion today. It’s big business.”

Megat Ahmad said the sports industry in Malaysia is thriving with sporting activities nationwide almost every weekend.

“We have three to four events on a Saturday or Sunday and participation increases every year. There’s the value of spillover and multiplier effect. All these contribute to the nation’s coffers.”

He added more people were picking up sport activities due to health, image and other factors.

“But when we talk about sports, we often think about elite athletes. Even the club system is considered traditional as people seek affiliation to represent the state or country. But many others are not interested in that and just want to play a sport and that in turn contribute significantly to the industry.”

Megat Ahmad also wondered about the outcome of his report regarding the National Sports Administration Course, which was carried out in collaboration with several other researchers, including newly appointed Sports Commissioner Associate Prof Dr Wirdati Mohd Radzi and Olympic Council of Malaysia vice-president Prof Datuk Dr S. Shamala.

Associate Professor Dr Megat Ahmad Kamaluddin Megat Daud
Megat Ahmad during the recording of BFM’s sports programme ‘Bar None’ on Tuesday.

He said the final draft of his findings and that of his fellow researchers were documented in two books and handed over to NSC some two years ago.

“I’ve not heard anything since. I’m not too sure what happened,” he added.

Megat Ahmad hoped stakeholders and the authorities would spend more time going through the massive research work to further brand and market Malaysian sports and to create competent administrators.

“We have a thriving sports ecosystem and should rightfully make full use of it.

“It also boils down to what our sports philosophy should be. Sadly, till today, we don’t have one,” he added.