SRAM president Nik Razeen Daud said the reduction on allocations should be based on merit.. NSTP/ ZULFADHLI ZULKIFLI.

KUALA LUMPUR: The Squash Racquets Association of Malaysia (SRAM) hope that the impending cut in funding by the Sports Ministry will not adversely affect their programmes.

SRAM president Nik Razeen Daud said the reduction on allocations should be based on merit.

He also stressed that youth development programmes need to be continued.

Sports Ministry chief secretary Datuk Lokman Hakim Ali had last week said the Kita Juara programme, which supports the development of many younger athletes, is one of the initiatives which will be reviewed.

“We had expected it (cut in funding) given the financial circumstances we are facing (as a nation) and we understand that there has to be a reduction in spending,” said Razeen.

“But I hope the (budget) cuts are not too bad. What is important is that programmes which are delivering results need to keep moving forward.

“It (any reviews) should be based on merit and priority should be given to those who have produced.

“Youth development is very important and one of the reasons squash has been able to maintain its strength is because we continuously have young groups of players coming up.

“We started with Nicol David, Low Wee Wern and others and today we have S. Sivasangari, Rachel Arnold, Chan Yiwen as well as Aira and Aifa Azman.

“I think one of the biggest weaknesses in Malaysian sports is that we have always been sporadic. We find a winner and keep backing up that winner.

“Then when we do not have that winner anymore we wonder what to do, it then takes years for the next batch of players to mature.

“I do not think Kita Juara is an expensive programme, the Podium Programme, however, is expensive.”

Razeen is resigned to the fact that the financial cuts could affect SRAM’s senior players in the Podium Programme, including Nicol.

“It is a natural cycle, players’ performances tend to decline with age. With Nicol we must remember that she has served the nation brilliantly in her time.

“But I think there should be reviews, again it goes back to merit. We cannot continue to sustain players who do not continue to perform.

“And I think the players accept that at some point in time they have to make decisions in their careers.

“If you are doing not as good, your support will decline accordingly and it will instead go to those who are coming up.”

Razeen, however, believes Nicol still has a lot to offer in the sport and is not ruling out her winning another world title.

“I would not put it (winning another World Championship title) beyond her. We have some very tenacious women, Nicol has always been a fierce competitor as has Wee Wern.

“I think it is within her. Obviously it (winning a major) would take a lot of work on her side but if Nicol wants it I would not rule her out.”

Nicol, 35, earlier this month dropped to 11th in the world rankings. It is the first time she dropped out of the top-10 in over a decade.