Official Website of Brunei Darussalam National Olympic Council
Welfare of athletes tops agenda
Tuesday, October 23, 2012

HRH Prince Hj Sufri Bolkiah,
BDNOC President, during
yesterday's London Olympics
and 3rd Asian Beach Games
post-mortem meeting at the
Conference Room of the Hassanal
Bolkiah National Stadium in
Berakas. Picture:Infofoto

Athlete welfare was the biggest topic on the table during yesterday's London Olympics and 3rd Asian Beach Games post-mortem.

Present during the briefing at the Conference Room of the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium in Berakas were President of the Brunei Darussalam National Olympic Council (BNOC) HRH Prince Hj Sufri Bolkiah, Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Pekerma Laila Diraja Dato Seri Setia Hj Hazair Hj Abdullah and senior officials from BNOC and the ministry.

Brunei sent three athletes in athletics and swimming to the July 27-August 12 London Olympics and a six-member sepak takraw team to the June 16-22 3rd Asian Beach Games in Haiyang, China. Both 400m runner Maziah Mahusin who was Brunei's first female Olympian and swimmer Anderson Lim Chee Wee set new national records in London while Ak Hafiy Tajuddin Pg Rositi broke his personal best in the 400m race. Despite losing both their games to Indonesia and eventual champions Thailand, the sepak takraw team retained the joint-bronze medal they won during the previous two editions. "We've been in the national team for five to six years, we've been training for a long time ... but we don't have allowance," said a member of the sepak takraw team. "Transport is a problem as four of us are from Tutong. We don't work and want to know whether the ministry can help us," he added.

In response, YB Pehin Dato Hj Hazair said that the ministry has formed a committee for the country's nine core sports sepak takraw being one of them and its working paper will include plans on how to provide assistance to athletes who deserve it.

But though the committee's working paper would only be completed in three to four month time, the sepak takraw team said they hoped assistance could be made available as soon as possible.

As for finding them jobs, YB Pehin Dato Hj Hazair said that the ministry has various programmes to teach skills that they can then use to find jobs.

Ak Hafiy Tajuddin, another full-time athlete, also said he hoped the relevant authorities could help him with securing a job a point which he first brought up in August after returning from London.

Maziah, who like Lim is still studying, also talked about how the national athletics team needs help in procuring supplements for training and have to be exposed to different climates during training in order to better prepare them for international events.

It wasn't the first time national athletes many of whom train full-time have talked about how worried they are about their financial security, with multi-titled national pencak silat exponent Amirul Ahat raising the matter of allowances prior to last year's Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in November.

HRH also touched upon the topic in the sabda he delivered before the athletes brought up the matter.

"What is sad is that once the athletes are picked, the relevant associations seem to disregard their needs and welfare," he said, according to excerpts of his speech.

"Although funding is limited, at least try to look for sponsors for them.

"I do not want to go on about this, I am just sharing my experience and hope that things like these will serve as lessons and guidelines to strengthen our national athletes," he added in his speech.

"I hope that what has been discussed today will be looked into as soon as possible," he said after hearing the athletes' concerns.

YB Pehin Dato Hj Hazair said that the ministry would try their best to assist the athletes.

HRH also stressed that International Olympic Council (IOC) places great importance on gender equality and reminded everyone that the best male and female athletes should be sent to represent the country based on their abilities. "There should be no favouritism," he said. Competing in regional and international tournaments is very important, especially those that are prerequisites for joining bigger events such as the Olympics a fact that HRH also wanted the national sports associations to be aware of.

Brunei competed at the Olympics because of the universality places which the world governing bodies for athletics and swimming International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) and International Swimming Federation (FINA) opened to countries who have no qualified athletes, and touching on this, HRH said that he hoped to see Bruneian athletes qualify for the Olympics on merit in the future.

Though he congratulated Ak Hafiy Tajuddin, Maziah and Lim for their performance in London, and said that they would be at the ideal age to achieve success at the 2016 Rio Olympics, he reminded them that their ticket to Brazil is not guaranteed. "Their participation in the Rio Olympics is not automatic," he said. "Who knows, in the coming years there might be other strong athletes that rise up to challenge them," he said, adding that all athletes have to meet the criteria set out by the national selection committee.

Courtesy from Brunei Times