TO make Malaysia a “sporting nation” is Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin’s dream. However, the question is, should we prioritise academic achievements or sports?

It is believed that without a good academic background or qualifications from a good university, one will not succeed in life. Even with the right qualifications, many are waiting to be employed.

Passion and love for sports must start with the dream of being the best in the world.

Discipline, self-sacrifice and mastery of the sport, together with guidance from top-notch coaches, are essential to build champions. One must be good enough to compete in the world arena, ever eager to learn first-hand from top players.

Should any athlete not appreciate or believe that sports can change their life, then all the dreams of making us a sporting nation will be dashed.

What one can clearly infer is a lack of motivation in the field of sports across the board. But Malaysia has shown its might and capabilities in many diverse fields.

Sports has the power to instil unity, create bonds and fire up patriotism. We all know how we come together through sports.

Sports also fosters positivity, self-esteem and identity creation. When such a socio-cultural impact is created, the value of sports is enhanced, paving the path for us to be a sporting nation.

For this to happen, budgets have to be allocated, investments made and a robust governance model put in place.

The governance model needs to be built on ownership, transparency and accountability. There is also a need for an all-pervasive structure to include a central- and state- level roll-up. Such a model will provide the platform for systematic development.

For nation-building to occur inclusive of sport, there must be recognition of the benefits and the impact it will have on culture, economy and the people.

There must be a highly cohesive environment built on collaborations between the functionaries of the country.

Athletes with bad attitudes are like rotten apples. The right attitude is key to becoming a good athlete.

We need to play sports, watch sports and talk about sports more than anything else to become a sporting nation.

Azizi Ahmad,   Kuala Lumpur

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