Sunday, March 14, 2010

Ministers, the ball is in your court

THERE are few uplifting stories in the news recently and to know that Lee Chong Wei had won the All England Men's Singles title was such a joy to read.

What a triumphant display from Chong Wei and a tremendous boost for Malaysian badminton. He is an important role model for our future sportsmen and sportswomen.

To achieve victory on the 100th anniversary of the All-England championships is the icing on the cake. His success is the perfect antidote to the recent stories of political scheming, murders, child marriages and sex scandals.

Lee also became the first man to win three Super Series titles in a row, having captured the titles in Seoul and Kuala Lumpur in January. He captured the All-England Open crown this morning in Birmingham's National Indoor Arena. The 27- year-old enjoyed a 21-19, 21-19 win over the unseeded 20-year-old Kenichi Tago, the first Japanese male finalist for nearly half a century.

Lee was last year's runner-up. But early this morning (last night in UK), he bounced from 15-11 down in the opener to convert his fourth game-point. Although Tago fought back to 14-14 in the second, Lee landed the final shuttle just inside the baseline to win.

lee-chong-wei-muhyiddin-shaberyA delighted Lee said, "It was a big relief to win and a big dream especially as it's the 100th anniversary of the All-England." He added that, "I didn't think I played my very best but I did enough." But played he did, and it was his vast experience which pulled him through tight finishes in both games.

Just before he was due to give his press conference, Lee received a congratulatory telephone call from Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak. Like Lee said, "It's very important for Malaysian badminton. We've not had anyone there for a while."

But one wonders if the Sports Minister and Deputy Prime Minister (cum Education Minister) also offered their congratulations for bringing the trophy home. The significance of Lee's success cannot be ignored. He is an inspiration to us all.

It is common knowledge that the role of sports in our schools is declining. Parents around the country have expressed concern over reports that the Education Ministry slashed the annual budget for school sports, from the annual allocation of RM6m to RM1.5m.

It was also alleged that various sports, including squash and bowling would be axed from the Malaysian Schools Sports Council calendar.

Have these ministers forgotten that Malaysians have produced world champions in squash and bowling? Do they need reminding that previous Auditor-General's annual reports highlighted irregular and unacceptable inconsistencies of schools being charged inflated prices for goods?

What happened to all the talk of wanting our students to excel in academic pursuits and sports? Has the provision of 'a wholesome education' also been dropped?

Is the government serious about wanting our schoolchildren and youth to excel in sports? Is it not proud it has potential for producing world class champions?

So, shouldn't they put their money where their mouths are? This time round, the ball is in their court.

courtesy of Malaysian Mirror

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