Abdul Rashid Yaakub has been named the National Sports Council (NSC) director-general, ending months of speculation.
The seasoned official, who turns 60 on April 1, has served the council for over three decades, with his strength being in management and finance.
Some had initially believed that the pick for director-general of the government agency that oversees sports programmes and serves as the funding arm of the Youth and Sports Ministry, was a toss between Arrifin Ghani and Jefri Ngadirin. But now with Abdul Rashid in the driver’s seat, next in line could be Arrifin, followed by Jefri.
Arrifin recently returned to the NSC after his stint with the Sport Commissioner’s Office, and as such, has not had the luxury of working closely with some of the decision-makers, compared to Jefri.
Abdul Rashid, who hails from Sungai Petani, Kedah, was NSC’s head of finance in 1988 and climbed the ladder throughout his 35-year career with the council. He has a Masters in Business Administration from Universiti Utara Malaysia.
Olympic Council of Malaysia president Tan Sri Norza Zakaria expressed confidence that Abdul Rashid was the perfect man to lead the NSC due to his background in management, administration, and finance.
Abdul Rashid, who started his career in the NSC on July 1, 1988, was the council’s former boss – Datuk Ahmad Shapawi Ismail’s – deputy, from 2020.
“Being in finance is an added strength as NSC’s resources need to be managed prudently,” said Norza, who is the outgoing president of the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM).
“He must find a balance between bureaucracy and athlete development. He is the right guy to do that. He needs to continue Ahmad Shapawi’s work and listen to the grouses on the ground.”
Norza added that Abdul Rashid understands the system and is a familiar face among sports officials.
“Although he is close to retirement age, I am confident he can do the job,” said Norza.
“We need continuity in the programmes. Rashid provides that.”
Abdul Rashid meanwhile, is eager to hit the ground running.
“I will do my best to ensure continuity and improvement of all our programmes. What is good, we will keep, and see how we can improve,” said Abdul Rashid.
“I will contact stakeholders to see how we can improve high-performance sports in the country.”
Officials from national sports bodies also supported Abdul Rashid’s appointment.
Malaysian Gymnastics Federation (MGF) deputy president Kau Git Kaur had enjoyed a close relationship with Ahmad Shapawi, as it was the latter who had convinced him to continue his career as a gymnast when he had wanted to give up the sport. After returning to the national team, Kau won Malaysia’s first artistic gymnastics gold medal at the 1991 SEA Games.
“Ahmad Shapawi is a good friend who did his best for the NSC. I wish him all the best for his retirement, and welcome the new director-general,” said Kau.
“MGF has always had a good relationship with the NSC. I hope that will continue with Abdul Rashid, as we have always provided medals in the regional multisports events.
“It is good that the replacement is Ahmad Shapawi’s deputy, as that means there will be continuity in the NSC’s programmes.”
Echoing Kau’s thoughts was BAM general secretary, Datuk Kenny Goh.
Goh said Abdul Rashid’s appointment will guarantee a seamless transition of power, aside from being a well-known figure in the sports fraternity.
“He is an experienced administrator who knows BAM, and we know him. It is the same with the other associations. He is a familiar face,” said Goh.
“With one year to the Paris Olympics, it is good to have some form of continuity with our programmes. Rashid can guarantee that, as he is part of the system.
“He knows what is happening, and is the right person for the job,” Goh added.