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(File pix) A former sports school athlete, who declined to be identified, is interviewed by NSTP Sport. Pix by Halimaton Saadiah Sulaiman
(File pix) A former sports school athlete, who declined to be identified, is interviewed by NSTP Sport. Pix by Halimaton Saadiah Sulaiman

BECOMING fishermen, factory workers, lorry drivers, or joining uniformed bodies are becoming common among former sports school students.

That is the fate suffered by many students who put all their focus on becoming top athletes but failed to make the grade.

Though there are those that go on to become coaches, teachers and lawyers, the numbers that fail are much higher.

A former National Sports School student, who only wants to be known as Zack, revealed this situation to NSTP Sport.

Zack admitted that he felt “cheated” by the promises of a bright future when joining the sport school.

“When I initially joined the sport school, I felt very happy because it is not easy to get a place in such a school,” said Zack.

“But if I was given a second chance, I would not have taken up the offer because securing a bright future in sports is only a false promise.

“This is because it is very hard to remain in a sports programme after school, most of the youth programmes are mostly focused on players under the age of 21.

What are we to do after that?

“To be frank, a lot of us (sports school alumni) face difficulties when it comes to finding work. Some of us now work as fisherman, factory operators and even lorry drivers to make a living.”

Zack worked as a cashier at a supermarket before starting a small business to survive.

“Don’t just look at the students who have been successful in sports, the number of students that have failed is much higher,” added Zack.

“People ask why not work harder when you were in sports school but you have to remember that there are 30 students, not all of them will be absorbed into the senior team.”

Zack stressed that he is only speaking to ensure the next generation of sports school students does not face the same fate as he did.

“If possible don’t neglect our athletes, value their sacrifices, we train between five and seven years non stop to chase our dreams of representing the nation.

“It would also be a waste if what has been invested in us (athletes) — the skills and knowledge we have gained — is not fully utilised.”

NST Infographic
NST Infographic

Don’t let talent go to waste

REALISING their dreams of becoming a national athlete is often on the minds of young talents once they receive an offer to study at a sports school.

Being in a sport school, one would think, gives an impression of having a bright future in sports while maintaining strong results academically.

This raises one question mark — just how secure is a student’s future at one of Malaysia’s national sports schools or state sports schools?

This is after certain quarters had claimed that numerous sports school students end up with their future in limbo once they have completed their studies at these places.

Based on information received by NSTP Sport, the number of unsuccessful athletes is much higher than those who succeed in their respective sports.

There are even cases of these young athletes who show strong performances at junior level, even becoming Asian champions, only for their talents to go to waste after failing to gain a place in the national squad at senior level.

Among the issues raised are whether sports schools have strayed from their original objectives which is to unearth and develop future champions.

A lot of public funds has also been channeled to these schools, the amount more than normal schools.

A former sports school student in Kuala Lumpur estimated that the government spends roughly RM50 per day to prepare food for each sport school student.

Who is to lose if such talent goes to waste? And what about their futures?

What is certain is that the people in charge, specifically the Education Ministry and the Sports Ministry, need to do something to ensure that talent from sports schools does not go to waste.

This is also to stop young talent from thinking that there is no future in joining sports schools. -- Reporting by Zulfaizan Mansor, Syafiq Aznan, Naqib Nor Said and Firdaus Hashim

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