By CHONG LIP TECK
Translated by Adeline Lee
Basketball can be considered the most popular sport in many Chinese villages. There may not be decent football fields in many Chinese villages, but there is almost invariably a basketball court in each of them. Some Chinese villagers even have their own official basketball teams, with proper organizational and management set-ups.
Most of the Chinese primary schools also attach great importance to the sport, and have trained a number of good basketball players. My hometown of Kampong Bukit Siput in Segamat, Johor, has its own impressive basketball team.
The basketball court in my hometown has been upgraded from an outdoor stadium into an indoor stadium, where the players can play at the venue at any time and need no longer fear the sun or the rain.
Even when the players had to train in the open court, they were already achieving good results. And now with a more comfortable venue for training, better equipment and even business sponsorships, the team has become even more powerful, and has continually achieved successes.
In October this year, the team had gone to mainland China and Macau for visits to observe and compete against the local teams. Going abroad allows players to enhance their skills, gain more experience and broaden their horizons through exchanges with foreign players. For a team to continuously upgrade their skills and improve its quality, they cannot just stay in the country and compete against domestic teams. Opening up more ground, and going international is necessary.
In addition to basketball, badminton and table tennis can also be included in Chinese schools and kampongs as their key sports. Table tennis, in particular, is a very suitable sport for those schools which suffer from land scarcity and a lack of a sound sports venue such as a school field.
I was a relief teacher at SRJK(C) Batu 9 Cheras once, and saw how the school's teachers and students trained hard in a small and simple school hall. They have also achieved good results.
Hence, it can be concluded that when persistence and perseverance are there, the lack of hardware such as location is not an obstacle. As long as there is good planning, to identify the sport the school can develop and focus its resources, we can identify, support and develop the gifted students.
The Chinese community and schools have so far nurtured their own sports talents within their small range of abilities. If their efforts could be coupled with the institutionalisation of official training and support, I believe there will be better results.
The Education Ministry will implement the "one student, one sport" policy in the new school year in 2011 to compel older students and encourage younger students to participate in at least one sport each.
The purpose of the policy is to move towards a balanced development of body and mind of our young ones. At the same time, it hopes to instill health and vitality into the sports culture on campus. This surely is the right way to go.
The success of "one student, one sport" policy depends on two factors.
One is that the Education Ministry must try to meet the needs of sports equipment for schools and must also properly plan for each school to excel in at least one of the major sports, so that skills can be improved and training resources can be pooled.
The second factor is that the number of sports periods must be increased. In countries such as Finland and Denmark where education is progressive and creative, they attach great importance to physical education. The concept of sports training and the promotion of physical development are well endorsed.
At present, our schools have up to two physical education periods a week. There is thus a need to increase it. And they should not be diverted for other purposes, such as teaching of examination subjects. The curriculum design also requires diversity in order to attract the interest of students.