KUCHING: Sarawak is mulling the revival of the Borneo Games to not only involve countries and states on Borneo Island but also some invited teams from Semenanjung Malaysia, the Philippines and Papua New Guinea.
Five states Penang, Perak, Terengganu, Johor and Selangor have indicated interest to participate in the regional event which has been scheduled for next year.
Other teams will include Federal Territory of Labuan, and Indonesia’s Kalimantan Barat, Kalimantan Timur, Kalimantan Tengah and Kalimantan Selatan, and joint host Sarawak and Sabah.
The 1st Borneo Games was hosted by Seria Recreation Club of Brunei and participated by Brunei, Sarawak and North Borneo (Sabah) in 1954.
Sabah, Sarawak and Brunei then took turns to host the Games.
The Borneo Games was last held in Brunei in 2009.
Sarawak Sports Corporation chief executive officer Dr Ong Kong Swee felt that the competition is a good platform for athletes who are above 21 to 45 years old to realise their full potential.
“We must not solely focus on developing U21 athletes for Sukan Malaysia (Sukma). We must look beyond and further develop potential athletes to compete at regional and world levels.
“Most athletes give up sports after participating in Sukma.
“The gold medalists may be roped into the national squads but many gold medalists are not selected to represent the country due to one reason or another,” he said.
The same goes for the second bests and the third or fourth bests.
He said most of the athletes peak after they are 24 or 26 years old and they must be given the chance to represent Sarawak in major events.
“We are looking to organise some 20 events for the Borneo Games 2021 where our local athletes get to compete with their counterparts from other countries.
“From this competition, we will be able to identify the best athletes to be further groomed for international competitions such as SEA Games, Commonwealth Games, Asian Games and even the Olympics,” added Ong.
For this purpose, Sarawak has embarked on building the Sarawak Sports Village which will be able to house 500 athletes and coaches.
Also in the pipeline is the Sarawak High Performance Centre which is expected to be constructed next year and be completed in 2022.