Thursday, September 24

National coach wants more S’wakians in squad

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KUCHING: National coach Mohd Ariffin Abd Ghani would like to see more players from Sarawak making it to the national lawn bowls squad.Currently, there is only one Sarawakian – Zhoriq Sollehuddin Zuraidy – and he is with the national back-up squad.

“We hope to get more Under-18 and -12 lawn bowlers from Sarawak and Borneo to participate in national tournaments so that we can rope in the best players into the national squad,” he said.

Ariffin was in Kuching recently to conduct a clinic under Malaysian Lawn Bowls Association’s (Malba) development programme, which is the brainchild of Malba president Tun Ahmad Sarji Abdul Hamid.

The clinic was also part of a series conducted nationwide for 16 centres, with Sarawak as the last stop after Sabah.

It was aimed at preparing students and teachers in adopted schools under the development programme for the national U-18 and -12 competitions in Ipoh, Perak in June.

“I can see that there is a growing popularity in Sarawak and the clinics are very timely as our Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yasin has announced on March 31 that lawn bowls would soon be included in the Malaysian Schools Sports Council’s list of sports,” he said.

According to Ariffin, there were now more than 250 people actively playing the game in Sarawak and more than 200 in Sabah.

“The number of students taking up the sport has also grown tremendously,” he added.

He also observed that Sarawak Lawn Bowls Association (Salba) under the able leadership of its president Awang Mahyan Awang Mohamed, had been actively promoting the sport here.

The 57-year-old head coach also commended the state government for rendering strong support to Salba by providing good facilities for the players.

“One big problem that Salba faces is that it is incurring high costs to send players for exposure or competitions in Peninsular Malaysia.

“It is different for Peninsula teams because all the states are near to each other and well connected by good infrastructure,” said Ariffin.

He added that he had discussed with Mahyan about conducting more clinics in the future in other major towns in the state like Sibu and Bintulu, and in Miri City.