National snooker body questions NSC ‘miscue’ in RM2m allocation for Penang

It was a puzzling New Year’s gift for snooker and billiards in Malaysia.

The Penang Billiard and Snooker Association went to town with news that it received a RM2 million allocation from the National Sports Council (NSC) to set up a snooker and eSports training hub.

In its Facebook posting ‘First Snooker Training Centre in Malaysia (Bukit Mertajam, Penang), the state association thanked state executive councillor Soon Lip Chee, Bukit Mertajam MP Steven Sim and the Penang Sports Council.

Yet, the Malaysia Snooker and Billiards Federation (MSBF) was puzzled.

MSBF, had last year, received the poorly stored snooker and pool tables that were used during the 2017 Kuala Lumpur SEA Games from NSC – that too on loan basis.

The tables were damp and infested with termites. The federation had to fork out money to refurbish them.

The snooker table, used during the 2017 KL SEA Games, that was given to MSBF last year.

“We congratulate Penang for getting this (allocation) but we are puzzled why the allocation by NSC was given directly to the state and not to the national federation,” said MSBF president Melvin Chia.

“I didn’t know about this until I saw the social media posting that you read as well.

“As far as the national federation is concerned, we have not been informed of this decision.”

Chia explained the national body had on Dec 10, 2018, written to Sim, who was then the Deputy Youth and Sports Minister, requesting an allocation to set up a training hub in Kuala Lumpur and Penang.

“However, there was no update and when we asked NSC, we were told our request was KIV (keep in view).

“We’ve not heard from anyone since.”

Chia also pointed out that the training centre set up by the federation in 2002 in Casa 1, Bukit Jalil, was in fact the nation’s first training centre. But the centre was removed in 2012.

For about six years, the national cue artists trained at private snooker centres and clubs.

“With our own funding, we set up a training centre in Sunway last year but the centre has been closed much of this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We only get funding for our athletes when they train or participate in tournaments abroad.”

Chia echoed NSC director-general Datuk Ahmad Shapawi Ismail’s sentiments about the need to create a pool of competitive young talents.

Ahmad Shapawi, in a Twentytwo13 article published on Dec 28, said the NSC and Youth and Sports Ministry realise it is high time to develop young talents aggressively and that will be one of the council’s main focuses.

To that, Chia said: “As what the NSC chief rightfully said about emphasising on youth development, I really hope we will be assisted in running our development programmes.”

“Development programmes must carry on. Without development, there’s no future,” he added.