26 January 2013| last updated at 11:11PM
By FADHLI ISHAK | firstname.lastname@example.org
TARGET: MSSM believes athletes can emerge overall champions in Vietnam
KUALA LUMPUR: THE Malaysian Schools Sports Council (MSSM) is hoping to follow in the footsteps of its university peers and seal a first Asean School Games (ASG) title hosted outside of the country in Vietnam this July.
Education Ministry Sports Division director Ee Hong said clinching victory on foreign soil will be no easy task but was optimistic Malaysia have what it takes to emerge victorious.
"We always aspire to become the best and it is our goal to win in Vietnam this year," he said after the launch of the MSSM calendar recently.
"We have among the best school sports development programmes in the region and I believe we have what it takes to win.
"I am hoping we will be able to leverage on our strengths in the swimming and athletics events.
"It will be a great achievement for us to win as we have never won outside the country.
"It will, however, not be a straightforward affair as Indonesia and Thailand are always strong opponents.
"As hosts this time, Vietnam will also be at an advantage as they will certainly select sports favourable to them outside of the core sports."
Malaysia finished third in the competition last year with a 29 gold, 36 silver and 35 bronze haul. Thailand took the overall title with 38 gold, 28 silver and 47 bronze while hosts Indonesia took second spot with 33 gold, 33 silver and 27 bronze.
Featuring many former athletes of the MSSM programme, Malaysia clinched their first title outside of the country when they won the Laos Asean University Games last month.
Besides the ASG, Malaysia will also be competing in a number of international competitions at Asian-level this year.
Among them are the Asian Schools Tenpin Bowling Championships in Indonesia, Asian Schools Rugby Championships in Hong Kong as well as the Asian Schools Football Under-15 and Under-18 championships which will be held in Brunei and Sri Lanka respectively.
Malaysia will also be hosting the Asian Schools Track and Field Championships and Little Athletics International which will be held in Kuala Lumpur.