Sunday, April 20, 2008

Some Things Never Change

Every year there is the MSSM (Majlis Sukan Sekolah-Sekolah Malaysia) tournament and it has been on for like close to 10 years now for squash. You may think that by now the people running the show would be quite good at organizing the various components needed to get it going, right? NAH... Still making stupid screw ups like they only came in yesterday.

You see, in Penang, the MSSPP (Majlis Sukan Sekolah-Sekolah Pulau Pinang) is in charge to make sure that the state has a team to participate in the event. The U-18 event is to begin on the 22nd of April 2008 and they are supposed to leave on the 21st. Now, the person in charge had told the team that they will leave on the 20th of April instead of the 21st. A check with the department confirmed that the departure date is the 21st. So which is the correct date?

The person in charge has yet to inform the players or hold any kind of briefing to inform the players regarding the tournaments and the requirements. Is it so difficult to have a meeting to brief everyone? Then the issue of attire... The person in charge has yet to distribute the attire to the players except for the duffel bag. No letter has also been given to the parents informing them about the details of the trip and tournament e.g. tournament venue, accommodation, time to drop and pick the kids, etc. This is absurd from the Education Ministry! How can such sloppiness be accepted? And this has been going on for the last 5 years.

The initial 3 years were very good and the person in charge was none other than Nicol David's mum. She was excellent with the paperwork and everything else. Then when she retired, the new guy was hopeless and it has continued till today except it is a new guy even though he was part of the team that the previous person that was in charge. They just can't seem to learn, can they?

They left on a Monday the 21st of April with 7 players and guess what? 9 officials... What the hell? And 16 of them in a 44 seater bus all by themselves. Then, no matches on the 22nd but only the opening ceremony. And the tournament schedule is only 4 days, 23rd to 26th April for both individual and team events. This means 2 days for each event... This is absolute madness for the U-18 standard. They will be forced to play 3 matches at least twice during the tournament. And even though the tournament ends on the 26th, they will only return on the 27th. This means 3 days of doing nothing.

Only plus point I can see is that the team is staying in a hotel nearby and this is a first after the many years of hostel that are not fit for anyone to stay in. So a four star hotel is indeed a welcomed option. Hope this stays on from now onwards.

This maybe my last post for a while as I will be in Shanghai from tomorrow onwards. All blogs are blocked by the ISPs there as part of the government directives. If they have changed that, then I will update you on my 2nd trip to Shanghai. Till then, happy squashing.

P.S. For you people who are online a lot, take this opportunity to earn something at no cost. Check out the link below and I hope you can benefit from it.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Ironic Isn't It?

Most of you by now should have known that SRAM recently held a Convention regarding the development of squash in a well know hotel in Subang Jaya. They invited all the State level Chairman and vice Chairmans to attend and discuss the matter on how to develop the sport in the country. Those of you who are not sure what I am saying, please read the following and my past articles.

Extracted from New Straits Times, Monday 7th April 2008

Squash: Leaving no stone unturned
By : Devinder Singh

FINALLY the Malaysian squash fraternity has come to realise that they need to look beyond Nicol David if they are to secure the future of the sport in the country.

But several formidable obstacles lay in the path of the Squash Racquets Association of Malaysia's (SRAM) stated vision of making "Malaysia a powerhouse in world squash" by 2010.

Lack of funding, coaches and facilities, posers over selection of junior players for national assignments and the breakdown of communication between parents and state bodies were among issues highlighted during the two-day SRAM convention which ended in Subang Jaya yesterday.

The convention brought together 11 of SRAM's 14 affiliates -- Penang, Malacca and Sabah were the absentees -- to formulate a strategic plan for Malaysian squash in a workshop that discussed, among others, the role of the national and state associations, development programmes, funding, communication and manpower.

SRAM president Datuk A. Sani Karim hailed the convention as a success which allowed the various stakeholders in squash to share ideas and interact as a team.

"This convention was held to develop a strategic plan that required us to look into action plans to achieve our vision. I'm pleased to say that all of our branches have endorsed our vision as ambitious but achievable," said Sani after the close of the convention yesterday.

Sani said the output of the convention will be collated and circulated among the branches for feedback and discourse before being adopted at SRAM's management committee meeting on May 3.

"The biggest issue we face is adapting to the National Sports Council's reduction in funding for not just squash but all sports and how do we maintain our level of programmes given that reduction.

"Many of our branches have tried to adjust by creating alternative income streams. The Johor representative, for instance, wants us to discard the subsidy mentality and they have increased their membership fees in a bid to finance their own programmes."

Selangor and Pahang SRAs have cited the chronic lack of coaches and facilities as hampering their efforts to develop squash in their states.

National chief coach Jamie Hickox believes the only way to address the shortage of squash coaches is to make it financially viable for the coaches to consider coaching in the long term.

" There is a need to make it lucrative and financially feasible for local coaches at the entry level to be life-term coaches," he said.

Firstly, the convention was organized on a weekend that clashed with the Sportexcel Junior Circuit in Kuantan where all the county's top local coaches were and thus leaving only administrators to attend the convention. So in term of technical input, it was close to zero.

Secondly, if Chairmans or the committee members only attended the convention, then how can they say it is a success as it allowed all stake holders to share ideas and interact as a team when coaches are left out? What team are we talking about here? Might as well ask the Chairmans and committee members to do the work then.

Thirdly, what strategic plan? Top 4 in the world issue was already SRAM's plan since Dato' Sani became President and that is his only interest. He just shrugs off other issues that is in need of SRAM's attention especially on coach's welfare.

Next, what is Jamie saying about making it lucrative and financially feasible for local coaches to make a living? Come on, I have been telling you buggers in SRAM about this for ages already and what have you done about it? Nothing. Come on Jamie, tell us how much are you getting? Definitely a 5 figure salary per month. Highest paid local coach? RM 4500 and that was because he was moved from national level to state. The rest is RM 2500 and no higher. And the lack of local coaches? Go to hell, SRAM. Look at your own national team, how many locals there? Every single one of them is a foreigner, EVERY SINGLE ONE! You have been the one that have been stopping the development of local coaches by doing nothing and not allowing them to have the opportunity.

Why was Penang not at the convention? Well, these are the same issues that have been around for ages and nothing has been done about it. So why keep on listening to same issues again and again but nothing is done about it? Do something about these old issues first, then only we can move forward. And of course, the main people were all in Kuantan for the Sportexcel.

So how come SRAM arranged it the same weekend as the Sportexcel? I have no idea. I thinks it's just dumb of them as they have the calendar out end of last year and they know all events that are being run for the year. So either they are stupid or someone insisted they run it the same dates as that someone cannot reschedule their own calendar. I also heard a rumour that the particular hotel is only available last weekend. If that is the case, then you get how shallow SRAM is. But it is only hearsay, unconfirmed report.

Was the convention useful? I can't say as I was not there. Will SRAM make some changes with the feedback they got? This one we will have to wait and see. Till next time, cheers and happy squashing.