By Nasuha Badrul Huzaini
This year, the country will be celebrating National Sports Day (NSD) on October 9 with a slightly different approach due to Covid-19. The annual event will be celebrated virtually throughout the country with the use of the latest technology.
NSD was introduced in 2015 with the aim of making Malaysia a sporting nation. It also serves the government’s objective to not only promote a sports culture but to also emphasise on joint participation in
sports activities, regardless of a person’s age, race and religion.
Sports is one of the sectors that is most affected by the pandemic. For months, sports facilities, stadiums and gyms were shut and major tournaments were postponed or cancelled. The emotional impact this left on our athletes is difficult to measure.
In an interview with Selangor Journal, the Selangor National Sports Council (MSN Selangor) executive director, Mohamad Nizam Marjugi, said many athletes were not able to maintain their training due to the restrictions imposed during the movement control order (MCO).
“Alternatively, the coaches had set up physical programmes for the athletes to perform at home. During the MCO, there were no tournaments conducted, so the coaches were unable to measure the athletes’ level of performance.
“However, as of now, the sports sector has been given permission by the Ministry of Youth and Sports (KBS) to return to physical training. It is a huge relief for the coaches and athletes since they only managed to train and coach from their respective homes previously. However, MSN Selangor has reminded them to always comply with the standard operating procedures (SOPs) during training,” he said.
Back on track
Nizam added that Covid-19 has dampened the sports sector for far too long and since the country is moving towards the endemic phase, MSN Selangor is ready to bounce back.
“Our development programmes, especially Bakat and the Pelapis Programme, will now run as usual as KBS has already issued SOPs for the training program. On our end, there will be slight changes due to the safety of the athletes because our underage athletes have not yet been vaccinated. However, other programs such as seminars and workshops are still ongoing as they are run via online platforms,” he explained.
Commenting further on the NSD, Nizam said the celebration is regarded as a special day to highlight to the community the idea and benefits of getting active.
“It is not only for promoting sports activities in the state, but also to educate and to spread information about the benefits of engaging in sports.
“NSD is important to cultivate awareness of sports activities. Generally, involvement in sports activities helps to reduce a person’s health problems as well. Stress, depression, obesity and anxiety can all be better managed when one is active,” he said.
Hybrid style celebration
The state executive councillor for youth and sports, Mohd Khairuddin Othman, said there will be a celebration at the state level that will be held in hybrid mode, in conjunction with the main celebration.
During the programme, the state government will launch several events that will require the participation of the people, such as Fit Mental, paragliding, fun walk and aerobics.
“The theme for the NSD celebration will also be revealed on that day in Bukit Jugra,” he told Selangor Journal.
When asked about the future of sports development in the state, post pandemic, Khairudddin said: “We are aware that the country is now in the midst of shifting to the endemic phase of Covid-19. As of now, we are slowly returning to normalcy as many sectors have opened for the sake of the economy. The easing of restrictions for those who are fully vaccinated is finally happening. Many sports that involve physical contact such as football, takraw, badminton and cycling are now allowed.
“We must return to normalcy as quickly as possible. This is important as it is our athletes’ dream to participate in Sukan Malaysia (Sukma) next year,” he said.
Khairuddin said it is important for the sports sector to receive a fair allocation from the state government in Budget 2022.
“The budget will be used to prepare for the athletes’ expenditures to participate in Sukma. Aside from that, we will also focus on the development of sports and more effective training programmes for the athletes. This is to ensure that Selangor will achieve its target to be the Sukma champion,” he said.
*This article first appeared in the Selangor Journal monthly October edition, published on October 4, 2021.