'State governments should give more priority to sports funding'

YOUTH and Sports Minister Hannah Yeoh said state governments should not overlook funding for sports in their budgets.

Insufficient state funding has not only resulted in neglected sports facilities apart from hindering sporting activities, but also affected talent development.

The removal of women's futsal and women's 10-metre platform diving from the Sarawak Malaysia Games (Sukma) in August due to insufficient participation is indicative of the problem, and signals a need for change.

Yeah disclosed that some states were not keen to build new sports facilities due to a lack of funding for maintenance.

"Sports development requires the commitment of state governments. If states don't invest in Sukma or send athletes to compete, events could be dropped due to insufficient participation," said Yeoh.

"Menteri Besars should not just allocate a token sum for their sports portfolios. Without investment, we won't have enough athletes. Success in sports cannot rely solely on the National Sports Council (NSC), which focuses on Podium Programme and elite athletes.

"At the grassroots level, state involvement is crucial. I urge all Menteri Besars not to neglect the sports portfolio in budget allocations. Some smaller states allocate less than RM500,000. How can we develop athletes or sports without proper investment?

"If we want to build a swimming pool, states are involved in maintenance, but some hesitate due to costs. They prefer sports that are easier to maintain.

"For example, KBS has offered grants to upgrade football pitches for the M-League, but some states haven't accepted due to timing. They need to be more proactive.

"We have a big screen programme where states are asked to buy screens for sports accessibility, but some ask for funding from us... I cannot disclose who."

Yeoh stressed that sports play a significant role in addressing youth social issues.

"The sports portfolio also involves youth development. To combat youth social problems, investment in sports is necessary. I understand it's challenging for state sports executives as the portfolio is often considered small," she said.

"I hope for next year's budget, they can invest more because it can help solve social problems."

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