Ex-athletes fought for nation’s glory, current athletes fight for cash incentives

Malaysian fencer Hans Yoong lost to Thailand’s Mayakarn Chornnasun in Manila on Tuesday Dec 3. PICTURE COURTESY OF WRITER MICHAEL CHENG

MANY factors have contributed to the decline of sports in the past three decades.

Gone are the days when our sportsmen competed with commitment and love for the country, like the late Isthiaq Mubarak, brothers Peter and Lawrence Van Huizen, Mokhtar Dahari and Punch Gunalan. They received honours only when they had retired.

It is said that the current athletes expect quality attire, state-of-the-art equipment, high-class accommodation, allowances and cash incentives to win global medals.

During the golden era of sports from the 1960s to the 1980s, sports sciences, foreign coaches, overseas friendlies and perks were unheard of yet athletes delivered the goods on the world stage.

The sole satisfaction they derived was to stand proudly on the podium listening to our national anthem being played while our national flag was raised. We were once a powerhouse for football, swimming, sepak takraw and athletics.

I watched them in action at the 30th Sea Games in Manila.

I believe our athletes can perform better if stakeholders and parents work together to bring us out of the doldrums.

The Education Ministry, through the physical and health education (PHE) teachers in schools, should carry out talent identification from Year One to channel our young into sports according to their ability, physique and interest.

Singapore has a headstart by introducing new PHE in schools for the past three years.

The focus of sports associations should be to assist teachers at the district, state and national levels by providing them with the coaches and officials who are competent and self-motivated.

Parents will allow children to participate in sports if the education system allocates three hours for sports practice thrice a week.

by MICHAEL CHENG.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/letters/2019/12/547066/ex-athletes-fought-nations-glory-current-athletes-fight-cash

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