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Thursday, August 18, 2005

Field of Dreams

As I finished up my round at the park today, I went over to see the boys of Seremban 2 playing street soccer at a nearby court. As I stood there watching the boys of about 15-20 years old, it really occurred to me that Malaysia is full of talent. Here are these boys enjoying themselves to a nice game of footy and seeing their raw talent on display was quite a show. One particular kid got my attention. He looked no older than 18 and there he was dribbling and controlling the ball with such ease that I envied him.
And this brought me to think about Lazarus Rokk's column in the NST (sorry couldn't find the link) last week about the 'Cari Champions' campaign launched recently by the Sports Ministry. Though the article attracted a response from the Ministry itself, it really remains to be seen whether this nationwide search for raw and unearthed talent will be a success.
I'm not trying to be a sceptic here. Actually, such an idea of discovering unpolished gems of Malaysian sport looks like something from a Hollywood movie. And why shouldn't it? Orang Asli kid found to be a prodigy in football found in Rompin. Kid is a success. Goes on to play for Real Madrid. Takes Malaysia to the World Cup. Okay...maybe I got overboard on the World Cup part.
Despite the Minstry's effort and plans in making the program a success (and I applaud them for that), I sincerely believe the future of Malaysian sport lies in our playgrounds, padang and even our own backyard if the badminton pagar rumah is to be taken seriously. There are tons of reasons why kids who can excel in sport are overlooked at school. Personal problems, peer pressure, family and even teachers are sometimes to blame for overlooking these gems.
So where our schools have missed out, our playgrounds provide that opportunity. I mean, how many NBA stars were first spotted in the playgrounds of Philly and the Bronx? Though it demands a large number of manpower, I think taking our scouts through the fields of Gurun, from the parks of Taman Jaya to the backroads of Mantin will unearth these many raw 'superstars of the padang'.
I hope the 'Cari Champions' campaign will unveil if not many, at least one great talent that Malaysia can be proud of. But with such a budget, that one great talent better be winning gold at the Olympics. Because that, for me just completes it all.

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