Will National Sports Vision end up as political gimmick?

The Youth and Sports Ministry is in the midst of formulating the National Sports Vision 2030.

Its minister Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican said the ‘blueprint’ will be launched in the first quarter of the year.

The ministry sought views from various stakeholders. The parties concerned will certainly be interested to know the government’s plan for the next decade.

The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in industry players suffering massive losses. Some have been forced to close shop or pursue another career.

This is because decisions made since March last year were not exactly in the best interest of sports facility operators, coaches and athletes. Sports is also viewed as sheer ‘entertainment’ or ‘lifestyle’ instead of a health and economic necessity.

A blueprint, complete with latest data and figures, will show that sports is a big, lucrative business that is able to attract foreign direct investment. It will also serve as a guide for policy makers to stay on track en route to elevating the industry.

As the national vaccination programme will be rolled out in days to come, the government’s vision will also help sports industry players plan post-Covid-19.

However, the National Sports Vision 2030 may end up as a political gimmick.

Political parties in the country are gearing up for a possible general election within months. The recent inclusion of Gerakan into Perikatan Nasional further strengthens such talk.

Umno, which has Reezal as a Supreme Council member, is also busy strategising its game plan with high-powered meetings in recent weeks.

If Malaysians do head to the polls, the vision will be used as a means to highlight the ruling administration’s plans to win the hearts of voters.

Using sports to lure voters is not new.

PAS, in gearing up for the 2013 elections, promised voters a new football stadium should the party remain in power in Kelantan.

National shuttlers Koo Kien Keat and Tan Boon Heong were paraded by Barisan Nasional members in Ijok after winning the All-England doubles championship in 2007, days before the by-election there.

Pakatan Harapan, in its GE14 manifesto, promised more public sports and recreational facilities and free broadcasts of English Premier League football matches over RTM.

Veterans in the industry have seen numerous initiatives in the past. Yet, nothing concrete has come out of them.

There was plenty of attention on extreme sports during Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein’s time in office. That fizzled out the moment Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said occupied the top seat in Wisma KBS.

Sports industry was something Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek championed when he took office in 2009. Yet, till today, nothing concrete has been done to elevate the status of the industry in Malaysia.

Even if a general election is not held this year, the fear of the lack of continuity will persist when Reezal eventually leaves office.

The same goes for the recently-launched National Unity Blueprint 2021-2030 and 10-year Digital Economy Blueprint. Look at what happened to Vision 2020.

Like it or not, such blueprints only serve as eye candy. And the same will be said about the National Sports Vision 2030.