by DHYA MENET
- Malaysian Players celebrating after winning Thoms Cup after defeating Indonesia 3-2.
What happened? What happened to our sports? Where have all the glory moments gone? Is there still a chance to bring back the glory days?
The national athletes now lack the patriotism spirit which was once highly regarded by the athletes in the past. The athletes back in the old days competed for their love for the country, not for the rewards like how the modern athletes are. We were once regarded as the power houses in football, sepak takraw, badminton, hockey, bowling and squash and so forth.Now we are one of the lowest positioned countries in the rankings. We only have squash and badminton to pride ourselves in.
For football for instance, we were once positioned at number 53 in the FIFA rankings in the 1970s, above the USA and we also almost qualified for the World Cup back then. But now we are ranked at the number 156, not even the best in South East Asia. During the 1970s, we had legendary players such as the late Mokhtar Dahari and co to fight for the nation’s dignity and pride, but we can’t see any of the current national players who possess the same spirit like he did.
- Mokhtar Dahari
In badminton, we once had the Sidek brothers to carry the nation’s name in world-class competitions all around the world. It is fair to say that they do have the reputation as the best in the world. Misbun, Jalani, Razif and Rashid won countless awards and trophies back in the 1990s, including the coveted Thomas Cup which was won in our own home soil back in 1992 where Malaysia defeated Indonesia. But sadly, that was the last time the nation has seen the Cup returning to Malaysia as we never won it again for the years after. We also had other reputable players such as Foo Kok Keong, Yap Kim Hock and Soo Beng Kiang, just to name a few.
In bowling, we had Shalin Zulkifli, our former number one bowler. She used to be one of the best bowlers in the world, where she won a lot of the prestigious competitions in the world. But her form dip suddenly and she also once came back from retirement to continue playing for the country, but she was never the same player again which dominated the bowling lanes everywhere she competed.
Right now, the only hope we have is Datuk Nicol Ann David, our very own number one squash player in the world’s ranking. She has been undefeated since 2006, and won almost every competition that she competed in throughout the world. Apart from Datuk Lee Chong Wei, she is our best hope to bring back the long-awaited coveted trophies back to our nation.
The question that has been pondering in most of the Malaysians minds now is why cant such accomplishments be repeated again? This issue has been talked about everywhere, from the offices, bus stands, even the local kedai kopi in those rural areas.
The government should play its role in tackling this issue. If they don’t do anything about it, Malaysia will be seen as a country that will dominate the lowest rankings in all sports by the outsiders. We should have more sports schools in the country. Having Sekolah Sukan Bukit Jalil and Sekolah Sukan Bandar Penawar is definitely not enough to produce future world champions from Malaysia.
This issue should be tackled from the grassroots level. We should give the talented young athletes the exposure of competing on an international level, just to give them the experience that might come in handy for them in the future.
We Malaysians too can do our part to help, by supporting the local athletes in whatever competitions they compete in; hence it’ll give them the boost to perform better for the sake of the nation.
The local corporate sector too can help by sponsoring the local athletes. This can be done by providing the athletes the infrastructure to train better and also sending them out to compete in international tournaments. They can also help by bringing in foreign coaches to train our local athletes, as they seem to have more knowledge in producing world-class athletes.
Overall, it can’t be denied that we still have hopes to bring back the glory days, but a lot of work needed to be done to achieve that goal. Everyone has to play their part in order to achieve this. The most important thing is everyone needs to have the ‘Malaysia Boleh!” spirit instilled in them.
*When was the Malaysia qualified for the Olympic in football?