Matching grant a boon for ‘less popular’ sports in Malaysia

The Youth and Sports Ministry’s Sports Matching Grant (GPS) has nearly exhausted its RM40 million budget, but you will not hear any complaints, as it has had several positive impacts, particularly in helping ‘less popular’ sports associations in Malaysia.

The ministry received 925 applications from companies, sports associations, government agencies, non-governmental organisations, and registered cooperatives. To date, it has disbursed RM39,978,000, contributing 18 per cent to the RM222.1 million spent to organise events nationwide.

The grant was set up to help organise local and international tournaments to enable Malaysian athletes to improve their rankings. The priority is for high-performance sports, but it also opens a pathway for sports that usually do not enjoy the limelight, to get assistance.

Another plus side of supporting the organising of competitions was the creation of business opportunities, while supporting the sports ecosystem and its ancillary industry. During the Pestabola Merdeka on Oct 13 and 17, 102 stalls were set up outside the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil, Kuala Lumpur. Traders earned between RM3,000 and RM20,000, with an estimated total sales worth RM900,000.

The matching grants also created other opportunities, including:

  • part-time and full-time employment, with the Kuala Lumpur Standard Chartered Marathon employing over 4,800 people
  • boosting sports tourism

Karate was the biggest benefactor of GPS. The RM1 million the sport received was used to organise the 19th Asian Senior and Para-Karate Championships in Melaka in July.

Malaysian Teqball Association was also another recipient of the grant, which was used to host its inaugural league last weekend to select eight players for the upcoming World Championships in Bangkok, Thailand, from Nov 29 to Dec 3.

Teqball is a sport that combines the techniques and skills of football, table tennis, and sepak takraw. It hopes to be included in the 2032 Brisbane Olympics.

“Teqball has been in Malaysia since 2017, and it was only recognised this year as a sport by the ministry. That has been a big help in securing sponsorship,” said Malaysian Teqball Association president Siva Kumar Jakarathan.

“We also received a grant and partial sponsorship for the league, which is a big step forward. With the ministry’s assistance, we held a league and identified players for the World Championships.”

The Malaysian Cricket Association said it used the grant to hold the Asian Cricket Council Men’s Under-19 Premier Cup, which was held last month (Oct 12-24).

“Cricket is in the 2028 Olympics. The Under-19 Cup is an important tournament as the players will be in their prime in five years,” said its president, Mohammed Iqbal Ali Kassim Ali.

“It was important for us to host the tournament as this is where some of our future national players will come from. We are grateful that the ministry has been supportive of our requests, and we hope to repay it by performing at a higher level,” he added.

The Malaysia American Football Association (MAFA) will apply for the matching grant next year, as the association has big plans, now that the sport is part of the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics.

“There are 1,500 active Flag Football players in Malaysia. By introducing it to more schools, we can grow that number,” said MAFA co-founder, Daryll Nathaniel.

“Flag Football is already in the World Games, and now, the 2028 Olympics. Hopefully, we can see it in the SEA Games, too.”

For the record, the International Federation of American Football (IFAF) Asia-Oceania Flag Football Continental Championships was held last weekend in Shah Alam, Selangor. The Malaysian men’s and women’s Flag Football teams finished fifth and fourth, respectively, in their first international tournament.