A Brunei silat exponent in action
at the Malaysia Games (Sukma)
this year. Subjective sports like
pencak silat, karate-do, taekwondo
and wushu consistently produce
medals for the Sultanate, and
having technical officials in such
sports that Brunei compete in
abroad will ensure that cries of
prejudice are a thing of the past.
Local sports associations are sitting on an unexploited goldmine.
Brunei has been allocated US$80,000 by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) through the Olympic Solidarity programme for four years from 2009 to 2013, but hardly anything is being done to tap into this reserve.
A valuable resource, funding from the programme is used for coaching courses, technical courses and athletes training assistance, among others.
The funding, however, is not for organising local competitions, sending athletes to compete abroad or for associations' administrative expenses.
The programme offers financial support to the 33 Olympic sports, though only 18 of the Brunei Darussalam National Olympic Council's (BNOC) members qualify.
So far this year only the Brunei Amateur Athletics Association (BAAA) has stepped up to the plate.
In March BAAA successfully applied through BNOC to organise an International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Coaching Education and Certification System Level II course which cost B$8,000.
A two-week course delivered by IAAF Regional Development Centre (RDC) director Ria Lumintuarso, 18 local coaches were taught how to identify potential athletes aged 13 to 17 in secondary schools and district schemes and develop them into future national athletes.
But as much as the BNOC would like to see its affiliates take a more pro-active role in securing such funding, its hands are tied.
It is up to the Olympic sports associations in Brunei if they are interested to apply for funding for the development of athletes, coaches and technical officers.
What the BNOC wants is for the associations to come forward.
For example, an association might come to the BNOC and say it has 30 officials that need to attend courses, and the BNOC will bring it up to the IOC.
At the end of the day the BNOC can't just pin-point the sports because people will think it is biased the BNOC can only help by guiding the associations.
The BNOC's website states that Olympic Solidarity is the body responsible for managing and administering the share of the television rights of the Olympic Games that is allocated to the National Olympic Committees (NOCs).
Exercising this responsibility in accordance with the specific programmes of technical and financial assistance approved by the Olympic Solidarity Commission, it assists the NOCs and the continental associations Olympic Council Asia with their efforts for the development of sports through programmes carefully devised to match their specific needs and priorities.
The programmes' website, meanwhile, reveals that the development and assistance budget approved by the Olympic Solidarity Commission for the 2009-2012 quadrennial plan is a hefty US$311 million, an increase of nearly 30 per cent from the 2005-2008 plan budget of US$244 million.
The funding is not limited to US$80,000 though once that sum is expended the associations can appeal for more based on their requirements
The BNOC president His Royal Highness Prince Hj Sufri Bolkiah has repeatedly stressed the need for local sports associations to take a closer look at the Olympic Solidarity programme, using last month's annual general meeting to make his case again.
The fund has to be fully utilised in the duration that has been set for, and His Royal Highness has said that any suitable programme either held overseas or within the country must be brought to the attention of the BNOC at least a month before the programme is held.
Not only will having qualified coaches benefit the local sporting community, having technical officials (jury, referees and judges) will help prevent any bias refereeing another point His Royal Highness has pounded on.
Subjective sports like pencak silat, karate-do, taekwondo and wushu consistently produce medals for the Sultanate, and having technical officials in such sports that Brunei compete in abroad will ensure that cries of prejudice are a thing of the past.
The associations' poor interest certainly does not stem from a lack of awareness.
The responsibility of informing the local sports associations does not solely lie on the shoulders of the BNOC but also the international and regional parent associations.
Using cycling as an example, the international parent body (International Cycling Union) and regional counterpart (Asian Cycling Confederation) will inform the local association (Brunei Darussalam Cycling Federation) on the availability of the funds or programmes and that it needs to apply from its NOC, in this case, the BNOC.
The BNOC has also advised local sports associations to refer to the IOC website if they require more information.
Though not included in the current four-year plan, an example of an association that has made use of the funding is the Brunei Darussalam Fencing Federation.
In March 2008 national fencing coach Hj Zainoren Hj Mohd Yusof was sent to Hungary for a three-month International Coaching Course.
Returning with a Diploma in Sports Science with sports specialisation in fencing from the Institute of Coaching and Sport Education at Semmelweis University, he also got some practical experience by coaching three Hungarian fencing clubs using the three different weapons (epee, foil and sabre).
The course's objective was to train and educate coaches by providing them with a systematic way to improve their knowledge and skills in the theoretical, technical and practical aspects of coaching.
It is courses such as these that will help improve the quality of sports in Brunei, and local sporting associations need to open their eyes to the golden egg they are passing up.
Courtesy from Brunei Times