National silat coach Suhartono is
venturing into the wisdom of taking
to the grassroots to prepare the
national team for the next
Southeast Asian (SEA) Games
to be held in Myanmar.
Picture:BT/Yee Chun Leong
Every good coach knows that taking it to the grassroots is the best way to gold.
The national silat coach Suhartono is already venturing into that path to prepare the national silat team for the next Southeast Asian (SEA) Games to be held in Myanmar.
The team were the most successful of the eight sports which Brunei sent to the last 25th SEA Games in Laos in 2009 after returning with one gold and three bronze medals.
But their last time out saw them return home with only three bronze medals at the 26th season in Indonesia last year.
The coach remains unfazed and felt that there was no problem with the programme as he still has his eyes on the grand prize for the upcoming editions.
With their first training session of the year at the Indoor Stadium of the Hassanal Bolkiah National Sports Complex in Berakas yesterday, The Brunei Times caught up with the national coach. "We have to start the programme early because we need to make our young athletes much better in the years to come," said Suhartono.
"We are targeting a young group aged between 18 and 23 years old to prepare for the next competition but we are looking further ahead and looking to combine those from the age groups of 14-15 years old to prepare for a long-term programme," he added.
He also emphasised that having previous achievements in Silat shouldn't be a decisive factor in athlete selection after seeing the Sultanate send three tanding exponents, the smallest of any country, to Indonesia.
"This choice (athlete selection) should be for the coach to decide. What the coach does is to assert the obligations of the athletes," he said.
According to the former Vietnam and Philippines national coach, all the names submitted to be selected for the biennial event passed the fitness test, which was set at 85 per cent, with flying colours.
While tournaments have not been decided for this year, the coach is looking to get more of the young athletes out of the country to gain experience and exposure.
So far the biggest event on their calendar is the 15th World Pencak Silat Championships in Thailand, slated for October.
This year is more about building up the team through training, he explained. "We will be seeing more tournaments only next year, gearing up towards the SEA Games."
He further said that the silat team will also have the opportunity to hone their skills for one month in Vietnam (for silat tanding athletes) and in Indonesia (for silat seni athletes) some time next year.
However, he is hoping to extend the overseas training stint to three months if possible. "This opportunity will allow our athletes to completely focus on their training without the distractions of home and other responsibilities," explained the national silat coach.
The team trains daily with two sessions a day but most athletes, who are working with the Royal Brunei Police Force and Royal Brunei Armed Forces, are still waiting for exemptions from work to attend training.
Courtesy from Brunei Times