Monday, January 22, 2007

Back at One Again

Over the last 15 years of being involved in squash as a player and coach, I've been lucky to see Malaysia go from zero to hero with the success of Nicol, Beng Hee amd Azlan. I have also seen the good and bad adminstration of the sport as well as the administrators that came and went. I've gone through 4 presidents of the association and numerous committee members. But in all those years, I have seen one perception that never changes. And that perception will never change unless 2 things happens. What am I rambling about? It's the perception that we as in Malaysian are limited in our capabilities to develop world class athletes and that a foreigner is always the one to do it.

I've written on this in an earlier posting about the difference in salary and perks but what annoys me is that eventhough you are the best and acknowledged by people who are experts in the field, there will be some people who are smarter than the experts. These people are the same people who will preach that we need to develop our locals to be good at coaching by gaining knowledge, getting our certifications and be at par with the world but when the time comes to give us a chance to prove our capabilities, they turn their backs. What a bunch of hypocrites!! Worse still, they have no idea about the technicalities of the field but they can decide who is the capable or not. Incredible don't you think?

So as far as SRAM goes, the new management team is no better than the previous. Instead of focusing on the development of squash in the country, they are more focused on trying to fulfill the egos of certain people. There is no development of squash in the country except for high performance development. That is an area which need support from other areas like tournament structure, coaching structure, refereeing structure, volunteering structure and many more. Squash hasn't really reached the masses and is currently a minor sport in terms of participation in the country. It can't even support itself as an industry.

But why then does SRAM focus on high performance development? One reason is that it brings quick glory and fame to the sport. A world champion will make a sport get fabulous funding and support immediattely. It is also the only way for those people who are in it for the fame and to inflate their deflated egos. But what does it do for the sport in the long term? Nothing at all.

We have nothing to be proud of at the moment. Yes, Nicol is the world's best player and so is Beng Hee and Azlan who are world standard but they are not truly produced here. 12 years ago Malaysian squash started to bring in foreign coaches to produce players for the 98 Commonwealth Games in KL because we didn't have the expertise then. But even now we still claim that we do not have the people to do it. Why? What happened? The focus on the high performance development is the cause of it. Locals are treated as 2nd class people eventhough we can do it but no one trust us or believe in us.

I wonder how SRAM's vision of being a powerhouse in squash is going to happen. Developing the other areas must be their priority now if it is ever to happen. Nothing here is structured and we are relying on luck to come up with the players. Which would you rather have? One Nicol David and no one else for the next 10 years or 1 Natalie Grinham every years for as long as possible? Trying to get another Nicol is like looking for a needle in the haystack but it is much more possible to produce players who are good but not great. That is more important as constantly having good players will ensure that squash has a great future.

Are we heading there? I can sadly say no at the moment. The current management is more interested in their own personal gains and egos. Their aim is just to make their name while they can and then leave it to someone else to come in and do the same. The biggest losers will be the sport.

(This is my personal view and must not be construed as a fact)