Masing calls for greater support for rural student athletes

Liew presents a memento to Masing (third left) while SLTA secretary Bernard Chin (second right), Stevie (second left) and the students look on during the courtesy call.

KUCHING: Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Datuk Amar Dr James Jemut Masing is hoping that more state ministers and assistant ministers will come forward to assist student athletes who are mostly from the rural areas.

According to him, the majority of student athletes from the rural areas come from low-income families and they need assistance in pursuing proper training and nutrition.

“The Sarawak government is very serious in making the state a sports powerhouse and I hope the Ministry of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports will continue to hold talent identification programmes in the search of talented athletes.

“I would like all the Yang Berhormat (YBs) to assist us in helping those coming from the ulu areas such as Tatau, Saratok, Betong, Kota Samarahan and Serian to be trained as good sports persons at SMK Tabuan Jaya,” he said after receiving a courtesy call from Sarawak Lawn Tennis Association (SLTA) president Dato Patrick Liew at his office at Bangunan Baitulmakmur in Petra Jaya yesterday.

Masing, who is also the Minister of Infrastructure Development and Transportation, announced a RM10,000 grant starting next year to help eight students in the tennis training programme at SMK Tabuan Jaya.

Coached by sports science teacher cum coach Stevie Din, the students are Ella Robert and Aina Syahira Empie (Rumah Tani Sungai Melinau, Kapit), Shlle Joseph (Balai Ringin), Audrea Flennyshia (Serian), Dauglas Austin Roland (Saratok), Jancy Ceria Odau (Roban), Celinia Gloriamai Cleveland (Tatau, Bintulu) and Muhd Sufri Kasuadi (Kota Samarahan).

Masing also hoped that a corporate body could come forward to sponsor a van to ferry the students to and from the training centre at the SLTA Tennis Centre.

Saying that he had known Liew since he was the Minister of Social Development in 2000, Masing commended the latter for a job well done in developing tennis and putting the sport in the world tennis map by organising international events.

Liew said SLTA is not only helping to develop players into high calibre players but also better persons.

“Ultimately, we will help the tennis players to secure tennis scholarships to further their studies in the United States.

“To date, we have about 50 who have graduated and become professionals and one fine example is Mohd Assri Merzuki who has take up a well-paid coaching job in Thailand,” said Liew.

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