The relationship between sports and development can be analyzed from different angles but first it is appropriate to define “development” in sports context before we go further in the discussion.
United Nations organized the International Year of Sport and Physical Education in 2005, incorporates sports into its programs and policies (UN sport for development and peace, 2006) because sports obviously affects a person’s physical development, and also his or her social and psychological development[i].
This all in all contributes to the wider “development” of society. Another definition of sports development refers to the creation of a sports infrastructure and a sports competition in developing countries.
The basic principle behind this perspective is the universal right of all people to play and sport.
Over the last two decades, there has been a new trend emerging within sport, which has seen a shift, from investment for the sake of sport, to investment in sport for good (Sport England (2008). The Value of Sport).
As the investment in sport for good approach, there has been an emergence of the use of sport to address regeneration objectives, largely stemming from the belief of government and other sporting and non-sporting organisations, that it can confer a wide range of economic and social benefits to individuals and communities beyond those of a purely physical sporting nature, and can contribute positively to the revitalisation of declining urban areas (BURA (2003) BURA Guide to Best Practice in Sport and Regeneration (London: British Urban Regeneration Association)).
Sport has transcended the boundary from being considered as an active leisure pastime to being recognized as having considerable social and economic influence in contemporary society (Davies, L. (2005). Not in my back yard! Sports stadia location and the property market. Area Journal, 37(3)).
Sports facilities have changed through the years from functional facilities, adapted facilities, state-of-the art facilities to centre of business and regenerating area facilities.
There is a current sports facilities construction boom universally. These facilities are for hosting sports mega-events, such as Olympic Games, Commonwealth Games, or for smaller scale activities.
There are a wide range of positive and negative impacts that sports facilities construction have on their surrounding areas and wider cities.
In Malaysia, sports and sports facilities developments have improved rapidly over the past years. However, such improvements are inadequate compared to the overall development of sports at the international level (National Sports Policy, 2007).
The National Policy in Malaysia is a sport policy for all. It encompasses both high performance sport and mass sport to achieve national development, unity and continued stability (National Sports Policy, 2007).
Mass Sport is a relatively recent phenomenon in the country and the priority of the Ministry of Youth and Sports has recently been to provide facilities for mass sports (National Sports Policy, 2007), including Kompleks Belia dan Sukan Negara (National Youth and Sports Complex), Kompleks Rakan Muda (Youth Friendly Complex) in all states and Pusat Belia Antarabangsa (International Youth Centre). The majority of these facilities are under the Ninth Malaysia Plan (2006-2010) and they are quite new.
A number of community sports clubs was established at the state and parliamentary levels.
A total of 1,282 multipurpose sports courts and fields were built to encourage people to adopt a healthy lifestyle.
In order to raise the standard of sports, coaching programmes for 21,200 trainers and facilitators were undertaken.
In addition, resources were channelled into high performance sports to nurture world class athletes.
From 2001-2010, Malaysia Government development expenditure and allocation for sports programmes saw more that 100% increased as shown in the table below.
8MP (2001-2005) 9MP (2006-2010)
Sports complexes 188.0 299.9
Upgrading and maintenance
of sports facilities 113.2 280.9
Athletes development programmes 6.0 40.0
Total 307.2 620.8
Source: Malaysian Economic Planning Unit, 2006
In 2012 Budget, the Government proposed an allocation of RM15 million for the construction of 150 additional futsal courts in line with the one futsal court one mukim (county) programme and RM50 million to build artificial pitches with floodlights in 30 selected locations nationwide.
Further tax incentive also recommended to be granted to corporate bodies that decide to build infrastructure for sports or set up sports academies.
It is hoped that the burden of preparing infrastructure for sports would not only hang on the shoulders of the government if the proposal accepted by the cabinet.
Currently the government offers tax exemption as an incentive to corporate bodies that support or sponsor sports events but that will not be sufficient to boost sports development in the country.
Government also encouraging public private partnership (PPP) schemes in connection with the development of sporting infrastructure.
PPP in the sporting arena expected to brings benefits to infrastructure projects as a whole: budget reductions, better value for money for private investors, application of the best managerial and technological practices and minimization of risks typical of the public sector.
Sime Darby Sports Academy is one initiative taken by private sector in developing good sport facilities that combine with a tranquil living environment.
Located in the State of Labu, the Sime Darby Sports Academy will be the first project executed within the new Sime Darby Vision Valley development.
The campus programme comprises of a series of different facilities including academic school, dormitories, a field house and sport fields focused on the development of excellence for athletes.
The core of the Sports Academy contains the academic square that will become the heart of the daily life for students.
The administration building, performance centre, amphitheatre and auditorium will define the plaza.
All the facilities are connected through a network of jogging tracks that are analogous of DNA and integrate the academy into the landscape, thus creating a conducive atmosphere for student study and recreation.
Malaysians are proud of the advancements in sports made by their fellow citizens, regardless of race, religion or creed.
For this reason, the government should channel more funds to build good sport facilities and focus on promoting participation of the young people in various types of sports as part of the extra-curricular activities.
The spirit of comradeship in sports at the school level will eventually help to foster greater race relations in a multi-racial society like ours.
[i] The impact can be both direct (obvious) and indirect. For example, in the fight against HIV/Aids, football tournaments can be used to convey information and education about HIV. Another example is when, in conflict areas, sport programmes provide safe spaces for children to play, and serve as containing contexts to restore a sense of normalcy in the lives of children affected by conflict or disaster (Vanden Auweele, 2006).
(this article published in 1BINA.my)