A TENNIS coach has expressed disappointment with sports authorities after facing much difficulty in getting sponsorship for his disabled players to compete at a recent tournament abroad.
Coach Fadillah Ghani said he had volunteered to train two wheelchair-bound women tennis players and helped them enter a tournament in Sri Lanka.
“They are serving the country, yet there is no funding.
“They had to raise money on their own to enter the tournament.
“I had tried all the channels — from the Youth and Sports Ministry to Wheelchair Tennis Malaysia (WTM) — to get financial help, but it was futile.
“It is very discouraging especially for the players as they are training hard for the 2019 Asean Para Games.
“They are also making efforts to raise their reputation in women’s wheelchair tennis.
“With no funding at all, it feels like they are not given due recognition.”
Fadillah said his two players paid for their passage and other related costs to compete at the BNP Paribas World Team Cup Asian Regional Qualifying Round in Sri Lanka.
WTM clarified that it had agreed to finance up to RM5,000 for the tennis players to travel to Sri Lanka.
WTM vice-president Lenny Ghandi said the amount was approved at its recent executive council meeting and that the women’s team was aware of it.
“We are still fine-tuning our standard operating procedures after the recent annual general meeting, and it is unfair to blame us for the shortcoming.
“The fact is, our funding from the government is very limited but we still managed to perform well in the 2017 Kuala Lumpur Asean Para Games.”
Ghandi also said WTM had not received any contributions from the corporate sector, which usually helped with sponsorships of players to enter tournaments.
It is understood that unlike the wheelchair tennis men’s team, which is under the National Sports Council’s (MSN) “Kita Juara”(We are champions) programme, the women’s team is on its own.
“WTM is trying to convince MSN to take on the women players as its full-time athletes, just like the men’s team.
“News like this does not help us with our negotiations with MSN,” he added.
One of the players who went to the tournament confirmed that WTM would reimburse the costs for their flight tickets, but that they would have to bear the other expenses.