LONDON EYE: Corporate funding should move away from glamour sports
By VIJESH RAJ 0 comments
FOR Tun Ahmad Sarji Abdul Hamid, the London Olympics have been a revelation and he hopes the Malaysian corporate sector feels the same way too.
The exploits of Lee Chong Wei, Pandelela Rinong and Azizulhasni Awang, among others, have united Malaysians and Ahmad Sarji wants the corporate sector to also actively get involved in developing Malaysian sports.
The British corporate sector, said Malaysian chef-de-mission Ahmad Sarji, doesn't pick and choose when it comes to sponsoring sports and this is something that Malaysian companies can emulate.
"I really hope that the corporate sector in Malaysia is inspired by the London Olympics and gets involved in more sports, rather than just focusing on the glamour sports," said Ahmad Sarji.
He praised Sime Darby Foundation for its sponsorship of athletes from the so-called minor sports, saying its scholarships had helped athletes from the Malaysian Malays Cricket Association (MMCA) to pursue their studies abroad.
Ahmad Sarji is the president of the MMCA.
CIMB is also actively involved in grassroots development but the majority prefer to associate themselves with football and badminton, leaving the government -- through the National Sports Council -- to fund the other sports.
Already, the NSC is preparing to answer questions that are bound to come its way following the failure to win an Olympic gold medal yet again.
Sports Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek said in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday that RM20 million had been spent on the Road to London programme and critics will say that it is a lot of money to spend on a haul of one silver and one bronze.
Malaysia, though, has to continue spending if sporting excellence is to be achieved and to put things in perspective, the British cycling, athletics and swimming associations each received about STG25 million (RM125 million) in the four-year buildup to the Olympics.
The investment in cycling and athletics paid off with multiple medals won but swimming failed to deliver even one gold medal.
Taxpayers, however, had no reason to complain as the money came from British Lottery and the funding, after a review, of course, will continue.
Malaysia should also strive to do the same as the government can't go on funding development programmes forever.
We have several major companies with tie-ups with foreign football clubs and it will be a step in the right direction if some of these funds are used to develop local athletes.
Football may be the glamour sport but requires huge investments for a shot at just one Olympic medal. Won't it be better if the huge amounts spent on football be channeled to diving, which offers eight gold medals in the Olympics, for more athletes to be developed?
Ahmad Sarji believes so, and one can only hope that the wisdom of his words and the inspiring performances of Chong Wei and Pandelela see a paradigm shift in Malaysia's corporate sector.
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