Arnaz M. Khairul
THE Pahang cycling team's development programme is still in need of attention despite being the state's most successful challengers in the Malaysia Games.
In contrast, Arfy Qhairant Amran's keirin gold medal for Malacca, the state's first in a cycling event since 2004, has brought about positive signs for development in that state.
Coach Aminudin Sulaiman said the team's plight prior to the Games had received immediate attention from the council, but having delivered the state's sole gold medal, "there is still much to be done and there has to be a change in mentality."
"There needs to be a guarantee that the riders at least get to enter all local races at junior and senior level. For this to happen, budgets cannot be allocated on an ad hoc basis," said Aminuddin.
"We need to keep riders in the sport, especially promising juniors. If it takes so long for attention to be given, they will find something else to do."
The Pahang team failed to meet their target of two gold medals, delivering one gold through Ahmad Fakhrullah Alias in the individual pursuit, two silver and three bronze medals.
"We managed to win the state's only gold medal in what was one of Pahang's worst hauls in history and this Malaysia Games performance must open some eyes," said Aminudin.
"Thus far, nominal sums have been allocated for training and monthly allowances. Each time we need to go for a competition, we need to apply for a budget. Sometimes it is approved, sometimes it comes at the last minute, sometimes it doesn't come at all. This needs to change."
Aminudin mentioned the likes of promising Ahmad Azhar Arshad, a 19-year-old, who has been identified as one of the better talents to have come through the state's development programmes.
"We have a very good talent in Ahmad Azhar and he was drafted into the Malaysia Games squad two months ago. But until today he is not one of those who is under the allowance scheme.
"If the state is serious about development, action needs to be swift, otherwise the athletes will lose interest as they feel their sacrifice and commitment are in vain."
The Pahang cycling team caused a pre-Malaysia Games shock when they were found to be camping out at the Kuala Lumpur Velodrome to prepare for the meet as there wasn't a budget allocated for them to cover costs.
Having already missed two national-level competitions due to the same reason, the team took matters into their own hands and pitched tents at the velodrome's carpark.
A day later, the Pahang Sports Council swiftly approved a budget for them to have more suitable accommodation.
In Malacca, coach Fairoz Izni Abdul Ghani reported more positive news on the plight of the state's development programme which has received immediate attention.
"I've had discussions with state sports council officials and it looks positive. There is going to be a commitment towards our development programme and we're already looking into equipment, facilities and even riders' education," said Fairoz.
"Bit by bit, we can streamline the whole development structure into one that can see us producing more and more capable riders in the coming years, while the current ones will see improved support."