How low can we go?

Nurrashidah Abdul Rashid (right) from Malaysia attempts a block as Mega Citra from Indonesia heads during the Sepaktakraw women's event during the 27th Southeast Asian Games in Naypyidaw on December 12, 2013. — AFP pic
Nurrashidah Abdul Rashid (right) from Malaysia attempts a block as Mega Citra from Indonesia heads during the Sepaktakraw women's event during the 27th Southeast Asian Games in Naypyidaw on December 12, 2013. — AFP pic

DEC 16 — Enough is enough. The Sepak Takraw Association of Malaysia (STAM), headed by Datuk Ahmad Ismail, will have to once and for all take responsibility for the continuous rot in the game.

The latest debacle was at the Myanmar Sea Games on Friday where the men’s sepak takraw team picked up a bronze medal after finishing last and failing to win a match. It is indeed embarrassing for a nation who were kingpins of the game not too long ago.

Malaysia ended the four-team round robin competition with a 2-1 defeat to Indonesia, lost to host Myanmar 2-1 and Thailand 3-0.

Sepak takraw was introduced by Malaysia and we once ruled the sport. Now Thailand rule, with Vietnam, Indonesia, Singapore and even Myanmar taking us to the cleaners.

The current state and status of the sport did not arrive overnight. In fact, the writing has been on the wall for the last five to six years, but STAM seem to be in denial.

Sports minister Khairy Jamaluddin had  taken STAM to task two months ago after the team’s loss to South Korea in the ISTAF Super Series leg in India and threatened to stop their RM1 million allocation per year.

But Ismail is immune to threats, as it had happened during previous sport minister’s terms and when National Sports Council (NSC) took a firm stand to cut financial aid, he accused them of not supporting the sport.

Ahmad is known for his controversial actions and remarks made in the fields of politics, business and sports. He normally has his way in the end and with new promises and plans, he continues to stay afloat.

However, the sport is the loser because it has hardly shown much progress.

Maybe Ahmad simply has too much on his plate to give his full-time attention to revive the sport.

But plans, Ahmad has many. Like pursuing to get an allocation of RM8.8 million to run a development programme for 17 months which was supposed to have been started in August.

When Malaysia are struggling to save their reputation, STAM are more interested in hosting the World Cup which they did two years ago.

Money spent on organising the world tournament, could be better used for the development and promotion of the game with the future in mind. 

STAM have to seriously look at the sport and determine whether it enjoys popularity among the masses.

Is sepak takraw still played passionately every evening until failing light in the kampungs, districts and schools? Are there development programmes in place? Are the state associations doing enough to develop young talent? Are there enough coaches to coach the young? Are there enough or even any talent-scouts going the length and breadth of the nation to scout for fresh talent? Are the players  passionate about the game and above all disciplined, determined and dedicated to excel in the game?

These are questions that need to be answered urgently and with immediate solutions coming forth.

The last thing we need is to be still struggling by the time Malaysia host the Sea Games in 2017 and to face the embarrassment of losing to minnows in our own backyard.

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