Officials ‘unimpressed’ with Podium Programme workshop

Podium Programme

There was much hue and cry when Malaysia ended its Asian Games campaign in Indonesia on the dot – with just seven gold medals as targeted.

The knives were out as many demanded that heads roll as the Podium Programme had failed in to meet its top 10 objective in the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast and 18th Asian Games in Jakarta-Palembang.

But the outcome of the Podium Programme post-mortem workshop left attendees wondering if there will ever be a change in approach when dealing with sports programmes.

Those who spent two days attending the workshop last Thursday and Friday were quick to highlight what was wrong within the system, taking a mere few minutes, and some even seconds, to compute how Malaysian sports can move forward. These were individuals who have seen a long list of sports programmes failing in the past.

“I believe this is only the beginning, so to expect miracles over a two-day workshop is unfair,” said a sports official who declined to be named for obvious reasons.

“The moderator (former Sportswriters Association of Malaysia president Ahmad Khawari Isa) did justice to his role but it’s not easy managing a group of ‘I-know-it-alls’. And let’s not get into the whole spat between the National Sports Institute (NSI) and National Sports Council (NSC).”

“There was no summary to be honest. Instead, the national sports associations will provide their summary… what they make of this two-day session and recommendations.”

Not all from the 20-odd national sports associations involved in the Podium Programme turned up – for reasons best known to them. There were some who felt they’d rather explain themselves to an independent body or the Youth and Sports Ministry directly instead of at a workshop organised by NSC.

At least three officials had apparently “left abruptly” on the first day of the workshop, claiming “decisions have already been made and that the post-mortem was a mere illusion”.

Another official said there was lack of clarity in the review processes.

“It’s not an Olympic gold medal attitude and approach.”

The official was referring to Podium Programme’s final goal – to ensure Malaysia wins its first gold medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

There were also claims of certain parties pitting certain individuals against each other. Tales of secret messages being sent and individuals being instigated through private conversations that apparently took place could turn the workshop into a Hollywood thriller.

There were those who bluntly said NSC is eyeing the programme but that is far from it as the agency already has another headache in the form of the Kita Juara programme which should also be placed under the microscope.

NSAs were left wondering how will the Podium Programme, or rather the funding of their athletes, be affected.

But at the end of the day, there were those who left unimpressed.

Referring to articles that appeared on Twentytwo13 and Foul!  before the workshop, an official said: “Ironically NSI didn’t need to be crucified … its officials shot themselves in the foot a couple of times.”

Repeated calls have also been made to release the expenditure for Podium Programme and Kita Juara. This also reminds many of the accounts for the 2017 SEA Games and post-Games report that have yet to be made public.

In all fairness, it is hoped that the Podium Programme workshop is the start to many more reviews on initiatives that run on taxpayers’ money.

More importantly, information should be disseminated quickly to allow stakeholders and sports enthusiasts to:

  • learn from the mistakes.
  • understand the decisions made.
  • witness proper execution of the decisions to ensure Malaysian sports makes a bigger mark on the international stage.