Quest to make Sarawak a sports powerhouse by 2024


An artist’s impression of the frontage of the HPC.

THIRTEEN new projects have been identified for implementation under the 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP) to make Sarawak a sports destination and sports powerhouse.

Minister of Youth and Sports Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah disclosed this in his winding-up speech in the State Assembly sitting last month.

Among the projects shovelready for implementation is the Sarawak High-Performance Centre (HPC), a key component of a forward-looking plan to help Sarawak achieve its vision and mission to become the country’s sports powerhouse by 2024.

According to Sarawak Sports Corporation (SSC) chief executive officer Dr Ong Kong Swee, HPC is one of the cornerstones for the fulfillment of this visionary quest under the Sarawak Sports Development Master Plan.

An artist’s aerial impression of the proposed HPC.

“Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg is very supportive of the HPC project which has also been given the nod by the State Cabinet.

“We’re now waiting for the State government to work out the budget and construction will start next year, taking 16 to 18 months to complete,” he told thesundaypost.

Earlier this year at the Youth and Sports Ministry Appreciation Night, Abang Johari said he concurred with Abdul Karim that Sarawak needs a High-Performance Centre, assuring that the state government would give due consideration to investing in such a facility.

“Training in an excellencecentric environment, our athletes can focus on reaching new levels of prowess and will be well-prepared physically and mentally when participating in major sports events such as Sukma or international meets,” the Chief Minister said.

According to Ong, the HPC was planned and designed after gathering valuable inputs from working visits to highperformance centres in New Zealand, Germany, the US and Singapore.

“The HPC is modelled after those and other countries. Once it is up and running, we need to employ many consultants and experts.

“We’re not only focusing on producing quality athletes for Sukma but also for Malaysia in international competitions.

“With the Sarawak Sports Village and Sarawak HighPerformance Centre in place, we can create the Sarawak Sports Institute for our own training modules and courses,” he added.

Richards giving a briefing on the HPC setup.

While waiting for construction of the HPC, the SSC has set up the High Performance Unit (HPU), managed by Andre Richards from New Zealand.

“We’re looking at turning out quality coaches who will be monitored by HPU-HPC, applications of sports science and sports management and administration,” Ong revealed.

Kiwi expert Andre Richards from Christchurch joined the SSC in May 2018.

Before that, he was attached to the National Sports Institute (ISN).

“The ISN had a programme in Sarawak and my first association with the Land of The Hornbill was in 2015 when I came Kuching to work with the coaches and athletes and to develop sports science.

“I chose to come and work in Sarawak because the environment here is quite similar to New Zealand’s.

“Furthermore, the people are very friendly and it’s peaceful. The food and different cuisines are great as well,” he enthused.

In Sukma Perak two years ago, he was assigned to prepare the Sarawak contingent in four months.

“After that meet, we sat down and decided that we needed to create a high-performance unit. In February 2019, the HPU was set up. We started with strength and conditioning, performance analysis, sports psychology and sports nutrition,” Richards recalled.

Ong, SSC sports development division manager Ahmad Rodzli Hashim (left), Richards and HPU staff Nathaniel Tan (right) pose in front of the HPU sign.

He added that the state athletes, especially those from the elite centres, had benefited tremendously from HPU services.

HPU Sarawak which now has a team of 16 staffers, is looking to increase its manpower requirements with plans in the pipeline to extend its programmes to Miri for the Northern Zone and Sibu for the Central Zone as well as to upgrade the facilities in the two places.

Richards said an 80 to 100strong staff was needed to make a full Sarawak HPC team.

The HPU-HPC areas of expertise are sports rehabilitation, strength and conditioning, sports psychology, sports nutrition, sports performance analysis and sports research and innovation.

“I can see the potential here. l look at Sarawak as an empty canvas and l want to put things on it and in the long term see Sarawak achieve its goals.

“I’m confident if we carry on what we are doing and progressing at the moment, we can realise Sarawak’s vision of becoming a sports powerhouse by 2024,” he said.