BELAGA: The lack of decent facilities here could not dampen the spirit of local youths when it comes to sports.
Ramadan Cup Belaga 2017, to run from June 17 to 18, is a prime example of such enthusiasm. The friendly tournament is the brainchild of a group of young local futsal enthusiasts.
According to a member of the organising committee Jaslly July, 21, the competition is self-funded – they are using the entry fees to pay for the prizes and also new futsal balls.
“There’s no sponsorship for this game – just a group of us coming together to have fun,” he said, adding that part of the fees would also be used to fix the dilapidated futsal court – the only one that they have here.
“In the past during several matches, we kicked the ball too hard and it would just shoot past the worn-out wire fence. Seeing how inconvenient this was for us, we decided to fix the fence ourselves using any rope that we had. Still, this is a temporary measure as the fence is still not sturdy – any more hard kicks would completely break it,” Jasly told BAT 7, .
The Ramadan Cup challenge is expected to gather at least 17 teams – each with 10 players. Every team will also volunteer one of their members to become referee.
Back on sports facilities in town, Jasly said having only one futsal court here was not enough to accommodate the local youths who loved the game very much.
“Every day, you would find us taking turns to use the court. There were days when some of the teams had to go home without any chance to play.”
The weather also plays a factor, as there is no roof over the court.
“I hope Belaga would one day have an indoor futsal facility, so that we can play the game – rain or shine.”
According to Jasly, his fellow youths are also playing other sports such as volleyball, football and takraw.
It is worth mentioning that the facilities for these sports are available in SMK Belaga – the only secondary school in town.
Another interesting characteristic of the Belaga youths in general – apart from their love for sports – is being multi-lingual.
SMK Belaga, despite being the only secondary school here, houses students of various ethnic groups such as the Kayans, the Kenyahs, the Penans, the Lahanans, the Kejamans, the Ukits, the Chinese and the Malays.
Cynthia Angkui, 17, can speak Kayan and Kenyah fluently, while understanding Penan and Iban languages.
According to Alby Lau, 15, it is normal for the majority of the local folk to be able to speak in different languages.
Asked if they would move out of their hometown upon reaching adulthood, Alby said: “Both of us (Alby and Cynthia) want to be in the teaching profession. Even if we move out of town to further our studies, we would want to come back to Belaga to serve as teachers.”