Shuttlers gather with Snowdan (seated, third right) and guests after the opening ceremony.

MIRI: Assistant Minister of Youth and Sports Datuk Snowdan Lawan has called on Dayak sportsmen and sportswomen to shed their ‘jaguh kampung’ image and seek a more competitive level.

The spirit of ‘Agi Idup Agi Ngelaban’ (fighting until the last breath) could be harnessed to empower them to become sports champions in Malaysia and beyond, he suggested.

“Do not be afraid. Win or lose is part of the game.

“What is important is the sporting spirit and the pride and experience that you have competing with the best players,” Snowdan remarked when opening the badminton tournament for the Baram Cup at King Sports Centre here recently.

The assistant minister drew on his own experience when he competed in Go-Kart international events in Thailand, Hong Kong, the Philippines and Indonesia.

He was the only Iban from Sarawak in the circuit.

When pitted against the better foreign racers, he said he always reminded himself that he is ‘Anak Iban’ and the ‘Agi Idup Agi Ngelaban’ spirit had somehow boosted his morale.

Snowdan also threw a challenge to the shuttlers to make the tournament an open event in the near future.

“Let all the good players from everywhere converge on your turf to compete with you. Are you up to it?” he asked and quickly received an answer to the affirmative from the participants.

Explaining his challenge Snowdan recalled another tournament – Piala Menteri Muda Badminton Open in Kuching – which offered handsome prize money. Yet he said very few teams comprising Dayak players turned up.

“I know there are many Dayak teams out there. They’re good players but they probably thought they were not that good to compete with the Chinese, the Malays and the Indians. This attitude baffled me.

“When competing against fellow Dayaks they can do extremely well. But against other races or foreign players, they chose to tug tail even before it begins. This is self-defeating. This is wrong,” he opined.

Meanwhile, over 180 players took part in the inaugural competition for the Baram Cup jointly organised by Baram Youth and Se-Tech Badminton Club.

Also present at the opening ceremony were Baram Youth Chairman Cr Dominic Nyurang Ajeng and Chairman of Se-Tech Stephen Avon.