Lifeline for over 200 axed elite, para-athletes under NSC’s education, career programme

The National Sports Council (NSC) says over 200 athletes axed from the Podium Programme can still benefit from its Malaysian Athlete Career And Education (MACE) programme.

Due to budget cuts, NSC only renewed 248 elite able-bodied and 45 elite para-athletes’ contracts. That meant 144 abled-bodied and 69 para-athletes were let go.

Initiated in 2018, MACE consists of three main pillars – education, career and welfare – and provides opportunities and programmes for athletes beyond their athletic career.

“Those no longer contracted to NSC can still benefit as we will assist for up to two years,” said MACE head of secretariat Joherman Amir.

“Some may want to further their education, while others might want to find jobs or start businesses.

“We have a memorandum of understanding with four universities – Universiti Putra Malaysia, Universiti Selangor, Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) and Universiti Sultan Zainal Abidin – to cater for national athletes.

“State athletes can also benefit from this education programme as UiTM has several branches around Malaysia.

“Those dropped from the Podium Programme who want to further their studies can come and see us, and we will try to help them.”

Joherman added several athletes have approached him to find them part-time jobs, while others asked about training programmes that would teach them new skills.

“Those asking for part-time jobs are convinced they will get their place back in the Podium Programme.

“But in the past, we have helped athletes secure full-time employment under our Athlete Track Programme (ATP),” said Joherman.

“Under ATP, 16 companies – private and government agencies, including our uniformed personnel – have committed to accept athletes as employees, be it part-time, full-time or on an attachment basis.

“We hope more companies be part of this initiative.

“We have also conducted sports entrepreneurship courses to help athletes start their business.”

He said the pilot programme started in July 2020 with 84 athletes, but only 24 managed to finish the course in November 2021.

Those who finished the course received a grant from National Entrepreneurship Institute, under the Entrepreneur Development and Cooperatives Ministry.

“They are also provided business coaches who act as mentors. Those who received the grants would have to update the progress of their business to ensure they are on the right track.”

Joherman added the new intake for the business course would be launched soon. Those dropped from the Podium Programme are encouraged to join.