Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Ultimate Insult

 Quoted from the Star:
Sponsored stints and cash prize await Suzuki Cup winners

PUTRAJAYA: Players of the victorious AFF Suzuki Cup team will be sponsored by the Government for attachment stints with prominent international football clubs in an effort to gear them for “bigger and greater successes”.

The attachment offer comes with a cash reward totalling RM65,000 for each of the 25 players and coaches of the Harimau Malaya football team, whose win had raised patriotism among Malaysians to a “highly extraordinary level”, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

The cash reward comprises RM50,000 worth of shares in Amanah Saham Wawasan 2020, RM10,000 special incentive from the Govern­ment and another RM5,000 from the National Sports Council.

Najib also said the Youth and Sports Ministry would allocate RM500,000 to the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) to upgrade facilities like the gymnasium and sauna room at Wisma FAM in Kelana Jaya.

“We will let the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) decide on the players’ attachment stints, which the Government will sponsor.

“We hope the experience will be put to good use in preparing our players physically, tactically and mentally for many more successes as Malaysia aims to become the football power house in Asia. The move will also help our Road to London (Olympic) 2012 quest,” he said, adding that the country’s football development would be a “national agenda and effort”.

Najib was speaking at a luncheon to honour the national football team, which won the AFF Suzuki Cup after beating Indonesia by a 4-2 aggregate on Dec 29.

It was Malaysia’s first victory since the cup was introduced in 1996. Also present to honour the team were FAM deputy president Tengku Mahkota of Pahang Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek and other Cabinet members.

Najib said the victory proved that the team could work together, transcending race with good tactical skills and mental strength.

Najib also confessed to having “felt like crying” when Malaysia made it to the finals after beating Vietnam, adding that he was happy to join thousands of Malaysian supporters in watching the match on a giant screen at Bukit Bintang.

“The tremendous sense of pride I felt for the team was overwhelming.”
Clearly this has been made into such a big hoo-hah. The Suzuki Cup is merely an ASEAN level tournament that not many self-respecting football pundit would bother about. Each player is being compensated RM65,000 for their achievements at the ASEAN level. To anyone on the Main Street, RM65,000 is a lot of money. Especially when the achievements of these people are comparatively insignificant compared with many others that I can think of. Let us consider the most extreme example: Nicol David (I refuse to use her honorary title for reasons that I will elaborate on below)

Let us first list down her achievements at the world level (NOT the ASEAN level):

1. FIFTY WISPA World Tour titles (The number of titles alone should impress you).

2. FIVE World Open tltles (equaling the record held by Sarah Fitz-Gerald, who has retired. Given Nicol's age, I am sure that she will set the new record and re-break it many times before she actually retires. Oh by the way, did I mention that she won the last 3 consecutively?).

3. As at time of writing, Nicol is in her 57th consecutive month as World NUMBER ONE.

4. If those are not impressive enough, Nicol's career record in World Tour events is 165-21 (as at December 2010) (This means that she has lost an average of 2.1 games PER YEAR since she turned professional in 2000)

If I go on, you would probably start wondering if I am stalking her. Now, to get to my point, what kind of recognition did Nicol get from the Malaysian government?

1. In June 2008, she was awarded the Order of Merit in conjunction with the Agong's birthday (No idea how this helps Nicol at all)

2. In July 2008, she was awarded the title of "Datuk", which essentially translates to "Grandfather" (Herein lies my point of not referring to her honorary title. It seems somewhat inappropriate to call a woman in her twenties "Datuk". In some cultures, that could even appear to be offensive)

That's about it. That's pretty much all the recognition that a 5-time World Open winner (among many others) gets from her own government. No RM65,000 incentive, no nothing. There is nothing Malaysia Boleh about this. This is all Nicol David boleh. By the way, the Kelantan government awarded a piece of land to the goalkeeper who saved the penalty in the finals. I suppose we can't ask too much from the Penang government because land is a bit too expensive there.

By rewarding the "jaguh kampung"s (village champions) handsomely sends the wrong message to the people. On one hand, you can claim that you are rewarding based on merit. But if this is really true, the amount of reward should be proportionate to the achievement. Based on a rough guestimation, if Nicol was awarded a paltry RM65,000 per tournament she won, the government owes her about RM3.25 million. I suppose she won't complain if she is not given any land.

P/S: Maybe we should even declare a Nicol David Day

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