Sunday March 17, 2013
A few good men and women of integrity
Game On by RAJES PAUL
The writer has had her fair share of meeting committed sports officials as well as apathetic ones.
A FUNNY incident occurred last week at the All-England badminton championships in Birmingham.
There I was looking, high and low, for Malaysian team manager Ng Chin Chai in the National Indoor Arena.
When I could not find him, I decided to give him a call.
He answered immediately. And his first words were: ďAre you checking on me? Donít worry, I didnít go gallivanting to Taj Mahal like the cycling team manager. Iím here with the badminton team!Ē
We both had a good laugh.
Just a day before our conversation, there were reports that the team manager with the national cycling team had gone to the famed Taj Mahal in Agra during the Asian Championships in New Delhi and missed the prize presentation ceremony involving his two charges Mohd Firdaus Mohd Zonis and Irwandie Lakasek.
The duo had won gold medals at the meet last Thursday. But, sadly, there was no national anthem played because the audio recording was with the team manager, who obviously wasnít at the velodrome.
Although investigation is still being carried out to find out what exactly happened, the incident, no doubt, has tarnished the image of Malaysian sports officials.
How many times have we heard of officials making use of their posts and positions for selfish gains? Yes, there are a few bad apples in the basket. But Iím not going to touch on them.
Thanks to the phone call to Chin Chai, Iíve decided to write about the good apples that Iíve had the privilege of knowing in my 16-year career as a journalist.
These are the dedicated and selfless officials who take great pride in what they do.
For example, thereís the educator-type of officials ever ready to empower the newer generation.
I was just a rookie reporter when I first met Datuk Wira Mazlan Ahmad, the then National Sports Council (NSC) director general.
It was at a press conference and, honestly, I was ill-prepared.
I do not know whether he still remembers it or not, but I can still hear him snapping at me: Make sure you get your facts right before you see me again.
I did go back to see him with verified facts. This time, we had a long and fruitful chat. And, until now, I still appreciate his honesty, straight-forwardness and passion for sport.
There are a few more like Mazlan, actually.
And then there are the handful of old-timers in the Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM), NSC and National Sports Institute (ISN) Ė men of integrity and ever-willing to share their knowledge of sport.
I remember spending more than three hours with former Malaysian Cricket Association (MCA) executive secretary C. Sivanandan as he tried his best to explain to me about the intricacies of the sport.
His enthusiasm for the game is amazing. Unfortunately, I still havenít got a clue about the game. Sorry, Mr Siva.
There are also those who are sincerely committed and blessed with great PR skills too like former Malaysian Tenpin Bowling Congress (MTBC) secretary Sidney Tung; Saujana Golf and Country club senior executive Fauzi Ishak; and Table Tennis Association of Malaysiaís (TTAM) Chan Foong Keong to name a few.
These are officials who continue to devote their lives for their respective sports and are ever ready to offer a helping hand.
Some even go out of their way to render assistance.
I remember how former Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) official Yap Tee Loy escorted me in a convoy of seven cars back to my hotel after a local badminton tournament in Seremban in 1999 when a group of unruly guys tried to be funny with me.
Many more sports officials may not be in the forefront like the names mentioned above but, to me, they are all truly the unsung heroes of the sporting fraternity for sacrificing their time, talent and gift for sport.
So, letís not allow a few bad apples spoil or tarnish the good name of the majority.
There are a few good men and women out there in Malaysian sports and some of our athletes are lucky indeed to have them in their midst.
Besides work, Rajes Paul loves to travel too. She had a chance to visit the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and UK SEA Life recently but it was strictly after working hours!