OCM provides safety net for athletes via education fund

The Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) is confident its soon-to-be-launched athletes’ education fund will generate more funding opportunities to help finance tertiary education for its national athletes.

The Council will also work out an agreement with Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris (UPSI) for the athletes to pursue their studies.

The new fund will replace the Tan Sri Alex Lee Athletes’ Education Fund, established in November 1999, in memory of the former OCM vice-president.

The proposal for the fund, mooted by the OCM Executive Board, was approved by the Executive Council this morning.

In explaining why it decided to have this education fund, OCM president Tan Sri Norza Zakaria said it was to have a more focused incentive for the athletes.

“We already have a Trust Fund … and there is also the Olympic Solidarity Scholarship for Olympians,” said Norza.

“We believe it is better to have all the funds under OCM.

“We have invested, using the Trust Fund, wisely and only use the interest generated to help the associations. That came in handy during the Covid-19 pandemic as associations could not hold events to raise funds.”

Norza said OCM was in the midst of finalising the structure, mechanism, and criteria of the fund.

“But we are confident the OCM athletes’ education fund will begin early next year.”

Norza said that it was important for athletes to have a safety net for when they retire, or if their careers are cut short by injury.

“That is why we are talking to UPSI, as it has many sports-related courses,” added Norza.

“We have read reports of athletes selling their medals and other sporting mementos to make ends meet.

“We do not want that to happen again, hence the education fund to help athletes who qualify, to further their studies.”

Norza said the Tan Sri Alex Lee Athletes’ Education Fund will be managed by Lee’s family. That fund provided an annual scholarship worth RM658,551 to 62 athletes (31 males and 31 females) from 23 sports, from 2000 to 2022.

Among the recipients were cyclist M. Kumaresan, race walker G. Saravanan, high jumper Loo Kum Zee, beach volleyball player Beh Shun Ting, national cricket team captain Faris Almas-Lee Rosmanizam, and young athletes, such as sprinter Shereen Samson Vallabuoy, ice skater Julian Yee Zhi Jie, and diver Chew Yiwei.

“The Lee family will decide how best to utilise the money from the Tan Sri Alex Lee Fund,” said Norza.

“So, besides golfing tournaments, OCM can expand our role in sourcing more funds for the athletes.

“We need more money as the number of athletes is growing.”

He said the OCM Executive Council also endorsed the establishment of an East Malaysia Committee, headed by Dr Tan Kah Hock, former chairman of Sabah Sports Board.

It is in line with the OCM’s efforts to spread the universal values and ideals of the Olympic Movement.

Meanwhile, Norza and Youth and Sports Minister, Hannah Yeoh, ended the war of words that erupted after the latter’s deputy, Adam Adli Abd Halim, was quoted as saying that most of the time, there was an element of corruption within sports associations in Malaysia.

Hannah gave a keynote speech before the OCM’s Executive Council meeting began this morning.

“Her presence symbolises the government’s continued support of the OCM and all the national sports associations, which comprise a large number of stakeholders, the umbrella bodies for the national governing bodies, as well as the National Olympic Committee in Malaysia,” said Norza.

“I would like to thank her for coming today. We had a good chat. Everything is good,” he added.

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