Talk of the National Sports Institute (NSI) serving the masses has been ongoing for years.
The move is deemed necessary to not be overly dependent on government funds. There are also plans to turn NSI into an educational hub.
On July 3, NSI finally opened its doors to the public by launching the National Sports Science Centre in Bukit Jalil.
A day later, Berjaya Land Bhd – that has 4.9ha of undeveloped land in Bukit Jalil – revealed plans to build a prime healthcare hub, among others. The project will begin early next year.
With sporting events lined up every weekend and a booming yet unaccounted sports industry, sports medicine and sports science play a more important role now than ever.
And one man who was clearly pleased with the effort was former NSI chief executive officer Datuk Dr Ramlan Aziz who still serves the institute as a consultant sports physician.
The musically inclined doctor said this was only the beginning of NSI’s evolution.
“With the recent issues about funding being reduced, we lost good people. Now NSI needs to make itself viable.
“The medical part is just the beginning as all the sports science components will be added. Then NSI will position itself not merely as a health outfit but as a performance care outfit. This is something only NSI can offer.”
He said at the same time, the move will allow NSI to grow and make it stronger for national athletes.
Dr Ramlan said NSI’s next step was to set up a sports medicine hospital, something which had been thought of many years ago.
“The new CEO (Ahmad Faedzal Md Ramli) has revived the business section which is tasked with looking for partners and alliances so we can move towards that direction (setting up a sports medicine hospital).”
Dr Ramlan said the move was good for doctors and sports science personnel who would be assured of better rewards but cautioned some of the challenges.
“We are still in the pioneer mode. While seeking greener pastures, we must never lose sight of the ongoing battle to establish sports medicine as truly sports medicine and not merely medicine in sports,” he said.
“Everybody can practise medicine in sports but sports medicine is about understanding the subtle differences. It may look subtle to the public but it makes a difference to the athletes receiving treatment.
He said graduating sports physicians only understand what sports medicine is when they spend time at NSI.
“During their four years in university, they do medicine in sports. When they come to NSI for three months of attachment, they will see what sports medicine truly is.
“I had in the past strongly pushed for physicians to do gazettement training of at least six months at NSI after they complete their education.”
“When these physicians go to public hospitals, they are usually placed in the orthopaedic department. With all due respect to my orthopaedic colleagues, some are mindful and supportive of sports medicine but not all are like that. Some (orthopaedic specialists) will exploit these physicians to run clinics where injuries are treated in the outright 100 per cent orthopaedic approach and the physicians will be left to find their own way to grow within the hospital’s setting.”
He said NSI should be the hub where physicians go to before being sent to public hospitals.
Dr Ramlan asserted that what was achieved in the last six months was due to a series of events over the last six years and the struggles and challenges even before that.
“Whoever is at the steering wheel needs to know there are people who have retired who should always be consulted in terms of the direction to take. Otherwise we will easily lose sight of the original objectives (of NSI) and it becomes something else,” said Dr Ramlan who is retiring in April 2020.