Thursday, 5 June 2014

The Star : Sukma losing it's prestige and reputation fast


KANGAR: As THE curtains came down on the 17th Malaysia Games (Sukma) in Perlis, the two-week sporting event will be best remembered for the delay in completing the venues, and the finger pointings which ensued.

Despite spending millions and having two years to get things done, the organising committee should hang their heads in shame for failing to meet the Games’ most basic requirement – getting the competition venues ready in time.

But of far greater consequence to the future of the Under-21 sporting event is the public apathy towards the Games.

Almost all the 24 sports hosted in Perlis were contested in front of that particular sport’s athletes and their family members.

There were cheer groups from contingents like Federal Territories and Selangor, but only a handful of spectators from the public can be seen at the venues.

There were exceptions like the opening and closing ceremonies, and the badminton and football competitions, which drew in the crowd.

Football grabbed the attention of the masses in Perlis due to the hosts’ strong run to the semi-finals.

Despite it being the first-ever multi-sport event held in the tiny northern state and the organisers’ putting up giant billboards and banners in Kangar and other towns, the Games failed to generate much interest or support from the public.

The lack of interest is not just restricted to those in Perlis. Not many people throughout the country followed the proceedings of the 17th Sukma.

It is a far cry from the last two decades, when many tuned in to watch the Sukma proceedings on television or followed their state’s fortunes through the newspapers.

Who could forget the famous Watson Nyambek vs Azmi Ibrahim 100m dash showdown in Kuantan in 1996 or the Lee Chong Wei vs Muhammad Hafiz Hashim badminton final at the 2002 Games in Kota Kinabalu.

The lack of star athletes in Perlis is possibly the biggest reason for the disinterest.

It does not help that the Games was held in the period when everybody’s attention was on other sporting events like the Thomas Cup and both the football and hockey World Cups.

It would be better if Sukma is held during the year-end school holidays, when the sporting calendar is less congested.

The decision to make Sukma an annual affair also contributed to the event’s loss of prestige.

At present, several minor sports and the sports not contested by the host states will be organised in the ‘mini Sukma’ in Kuala Lumpur, which is held in the odd-numbered years.

The idea of allowing those denied the opportunity to compete in the proper Sukma to feature in Kuala Lumpur is commendable. However, it dilutes the prestige of Sukma, which is important to maintain the interest from the public towards the Games.

Hopefully, the next hosts Sarawak will do a better job in 2016 in returning the Sukma competition to its glory days.

The State Aquatic Centre's roof collapse proved to be the 17th Sukma's highlight in the end. - filepic

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