Local sports officials and athletes learn to cope with MCO


Dr Ong Kong Swee

KUCHING: The past few months have been an unsettling period for everyone in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and nation-wide Movement Control Order (MCO). Athletes, coaches and sports administrators are not spared as events and competitions are cancelled or postponed. Athletes preparing for Sukma XX have been reduced to home training.

Sukma Johor, originally scheduled from July 9 to 20, is now postponed to December or 2021.

How are Sarawak sports officials and athletes coping?

“We now live in a world of fast changing and advanced technology where the ability to remain in contact and informed allows for the regular meetings through video conference, something that Sarawak Sports Corporation (SSC) and Sarawak State Sports Council (MSNS) have implemented during the MCO,” said SSC chief executive officer Dr Ong Kong Swee.

In fact, under such difficult circumstances, communication can sometimes become more efficient, with meetings of up to 10-15 people at any one time and the time limits ensure efficient meetings.

Nevertheless, many challenges remain.

State sports associations and coaches constantly worry about the physical and mental conditioning of athletes under their charge.

“Some of our athletes are from remote parts of the state and do not have access to coaches and gymnasiums. Some associations and coaches have taken the athletes in to stay at their homes, it really is a challenging time for both athlete and coaches,” Ong observed.

According to him, High Performance Centre manager Andre Richard has stressed that now is the time to be innovative and creative in many situations. As we are facing adversity, we actually become better at thinking on our feet, he noted.

Currently, several state squads are linking up through various video chat applications and conducting daily physical and mental psychological skills sessions from the comfort of their own homes.

Some coaches are providing athletes “live” coaching sessions, at times participating themselves to provide further motivation for their athletes.

Many coaches are developing the tool of interactive sessions with their athletes or having the athletes video their sessions and sending them to the coaches for analysis. The tenpin bowling team, for example, conduct “live” daily aerobic workouts followed by leadership and teamwork sessions.

Some athletes are posting live videos of themselves training and making it a family affair, with brother, sister and even parents join them.

“Many athletes are using this “down time” to enhance their flexibility through Yoga and Pilates, with several athletes joining former national wushu athlete Loh Jack Chang’s Tai Chi basics lesson live on Facebook.

“During this period, it is great for athletes and coaches to self-reflect on their current practices and analyse aspects that during busy training schedules might get overlooked.

“This is not the time for coaches to relax as the new dates of the Sukma Johor is yet to be re-scheduled, meaning that we as a contingent must be “Ready to Go” when the time comes,” Ong added.