Saturday, November 15, 2008

National Sports Convention: Part 1 - A viewpoint on NSC and NSI

As the week ends, the issues relating to the National Sports Convention which was held during the course of the week has started to sink into me. This is a gathering of all relevant people involved in making sports achieve the expected level of success for Malaysia. Apparently there were 8 to 9 resolutions that were discussed and the matter is to be forwarded to the Cabinet Committee on Sports, which is chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister.

The area that I am going to comment is the resolution relating to bringing NSC and NSI as one entity. The sports fraternity may have their wisdom and reasoning, but before one advances such issues it is more appropriate to do a critical analysis to determine if both NSC and NSI are functioning properly as they remain. If they are then the merger becomes easier as most of the issues would be one of emotions i.e key staff feeling either they are on a winning ticket or at the losing end. If as 2 separate entities they have not functioned properly, the merger, if not properly carried out, may attract bigger problems. Therefore bringing the two under one umbrella needs a careful and thorough study.

As it remains, NSC is the biggest source of funds for sports in Malaysia. Most, or indeed all, National Sports Association (NSA) depend on the coffers of NSC for salaries of General Managers to Coaches to Oversea trips to organisational cost. That is the extent of dependency, and as such NSAs do not have the appetite to source their own funds. This has created a concept of "hand-out" and "subsidy" mentality that stifles the need for hard work by the NSAs to ensure for a degree of financial independence.

Effectively what NSC has done is they have unknowingly "killed" the creative nature of administrators in NSAs to search for funds. This in a way does not permit the various NSAs to appreciate the difficulty of getting funds and as such the pressure for success is not at a higher stress level. Whatever happens these administrators know that NSC is there to fund them.

Although NSC has a tier system still funds are made available. I do not think NSC is aware of the other side of their actions. Their intention is to relieve administrators from the issue of funds so as they can concentrate on the mechanics of improving the standard of sports and the level of success. Man being man, as they find the stress of finding monies is not a paramount matter, it does not mean they would regroup their energy for the betterment of sport. Rather, the "spare time" created by NSC would only further assist in the in-fighting that seem to be a prevalent matter with NSAs. It becomes an issue, of which group is close to key people at the corridors of NSC.

To be fair to NSC, they are very helpful to the stage that their professional and ethical values are completely sidelined. Officials from NSC study proposals from NSAs and then help to finance their activities. At the same time they do not have any qualms of sitting at the various NSAs Management or Council meetings or even becoming Team Manager of any of the National Teams. It becomes a complete "pot pourri" and therefore the lines of each others roles are jaded. It makes it difficult for NSC to objectively intervene in instances of failure. This is something NSC has completely failed to comprehend and therefore they also become a "de facto" contributor to the failures in Malaysian sports.

When it comes to NSI, as an independent entity it is relatively new. As to why a Department became a entity is itself a long story. However if we go by status of professional entities in the Civil Service, then NSI being a separate entity seem to be the rightful thing. It is suppose to be the professional service to sports and it to function it needs greater support.

Most NSAs do not know how to use NSI. At the same time NSI do not know how to market it services to the NSAs. Everything is ad-hoc and therefore the extent of NSI services from nutrition, bio-mechanics, bio-medical to sports science and research is not fully appreciated. People who have used NSI feel that their budget is not fully allocated to allow them to equip themselves to serve Malaysian sports properly.

With all these anomalies, it would seem merging NSC and NSI may not be wise until both of them are organised properly to undertake their function in the highest professional standard. They first have to be an effective structure, not as though it exists because it was set up to exists. For Malaysian sports to succeed NSC and NSI must first start their journey properly else all other sports journeys will be on the wrong footing.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I would like to comment on how NSI can 'market' itself better. One of the main objectives of it's set-up is to provide sports science support to our national athletes. The NSI has the best equipment and personnel in those area. What seems to be the 'anomalies' is the sports scientists there do not provide 'answers' to the needs of the athletes and at the same time the coaches and athletes to a certain extent do not know what to 'ask' the sports scientists. This anomaly is prevalent in the sports science fraternity where published research findings by the sports scientists are not appreciated / understood by the coaches. Sadly this is due to the education level of some of the coaches and some NSA administrators will scoff it as being 'academic'. Just look at the luke warm response to the discussion on talent identification during the convention. Sports science has taken a back seat there. The participants were more interested in how to 'squeeze' more money from the NSC. Another limitation from the research findings is that it is not a 'magic bullet' that could provide immediate cure to the 'ills' of whatever seems to affecting our Malaysian athletes. However, have the sport psychology dept. found out why our national athletes always seem to lack the mental toughness when competing in tournaments abroad or in layman term 'jaguh kampung'? Our training and competition facilities are second to none in the soon to be named Sports City and yet no athlete apart from Nicol David we can really be proud of. Even Chong Wei has stated that he is feeling 'pressured' to be ranked No.1?
I am not picking on the dedicated staff working there but how many of the mental trainers know the demands of the sport they are attached to? Often, with budget permitting, some national teams will be accorded a mental trainer to tag along but how frequent or how long has the personnel been with the players to know them well, its not what psychological skills he or she cam impart, the personality of the athlete counts too and the skills cannot be learned in one or two weeks of centralised training before competition. Perhaps the most sought after NSI's support service would be the masseurs which sometimes both the coaches and athletes would fight for the service. What are the findings of the match analysis dept? Have they sorted the poor penalty corner conversion rate of our hockey team or how to overcome the Chinese badminton players in terms of tactical play? The injury suffered by Ng Hup Wei at the gymnasium is a cause for concern although I do not really whether it was accidental or due to negligence?
All said and done, credit must given to the NSI and its director for their untiring effort in inculcating sports science into our Malaysian sports fraternity.

The anomalies mentioned have been going on more due to political and personal indifferences rather than the roles of both entity.