KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 22 – Can the new Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman start looking into the welfare of former athletes as all his predecessors over the last two decades have failed to do so?
This is the question posed to Syed Saddiq by former hockey national captain Nor Saiful Zaini (pic).
Nor Saiful, who is currently the national junior hockey coach, said he had written to all former Youth and Sports Ministers since 1999 to help out former national athletes who were financially strapped, but he had been unsuccessful.
That’s why he is glad that former Malaysian track queen Datuk M. Rajamani voiced out the problems faced by former national athletes from the 60s, 70s and 80s.
Saiful said he had written to all ministers since Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein was at the helm to highlight the difficulties of former athletes, but there have been no responses.
The matter was neither brought up at the Parliament or discussed. In fact, his grouses were completely ignored.
“I’ve spoken about former national athletes who were jobless and suffering from illnesses. Some of them want to start a business but they don’t have the resources,” said Nor Saiful.
“I do feel pity for these athletes as they have sacrificed their time and energy for the nation for years but not many are willing to help them (after they retired).”
“How are we going to help these former national athletes without the help of the government?, he asked.
Nor Saiful added that even a Member of Parliament would receive pension after serving for just one term, so why not extend it to former national athletes.
On Wednesday, the National Sports Council (NSC) announced a new incentive package for the current national athletes.
Besides enjoying the best facilities, they are given monthly allowances for winning medals in multi-sport Games and pension for medallists in the Olympics.
But nothing was mentioned about helping the former athletes.
“I hope the new government will look into this and treat everyone equally,” he added.