Monday, December 21, 2009

Minister extends olive branch

Matheos Viktor Messakh , The Jakarta Post , Jakarta | Mon, 12/21/2009 9:07 AM | Sports

State Sports and Youth Affairs Minister Andi Alfian Mallarangeng says the “unnecessary problems” plaguing the country’s sports institutions will only make things worse in the 2011 South East Asian (SEA) Games that Indonesia will host.

“We need to overcome these unnecessary problems if we want to be the overall champions in 2011,” Mallarangeng said Sunday at an event to hand over cash bonus to winning athletes from the Laos SEA Games.

“Looking at the Laos Games, there were some unnecessary problems, such as lack of recognition of athletes by sports organizations, and some conflicts within these organizations,” he told The Jakarta Post.

“Only if we overcome these problems can we focus on athletes’ development.”

Two training camps operated in the run-up to the Laos Games: the National Training Camp, run by the National Sports Council (KONI), and the Top-Tier Athlete Program (PAL) run by the sports ministry.

KONI struggled to fund its camp, while the PAL received the full backing of the government.

Mallarangeng said bureaucratic overlaps had contributed little to athletes’ development, and would be scrapped.

“KONI will lead the charge, while the ministry will lead from behind,” he said.

National Olympics Council (KOI) chairwoman Rita Subowo, also the KONI chairwoman, said the ministry had promised to close the divide.

“It’s impossible to improve our development of athletes if we’re still divided,” she said.

“It’s our athletes who will bear the consequences. Let’s protect them by leaving all interests behind and giving them our utmost attention. The minister has promised that in future all athletes will be treated the same.”

It was impossible, she went on, to rely on ad hoc training programs.

“That’s why KONI and all sports organizations sought funding to send our athletes to Laos,” Rita said.

“It was the lack of strategy. Thank you to the sports minister, though, for promising to pay for all the tickets just a day before departure.”

Mallarangeng said Indonesia needed to bag more than 100 gold medals if it wanted to emerge the overall champion at the 2011 Games.

“Two years is a short time and good athletes are not sent from above,” he said.

“Good athletes are the result of long and good training.”

Although Indonesia achieved its target of a third-place finish, Mallarangeng stressed the importance of a thorough evaluation.

“We need to learn and prepare accordingly to get the best performance at the 2010 Asian Games and the 2011 SEA Games,” he said.

At the Laos Games, he added, some sports exceeded their medal targets, while some fell short.

Before the Games, sports associations predicted the contingent would bring home 62 gold medals, while KONI and the KOI were touting 40 to 58 gold medals.

“KONI and the KOI were right, but it was at the lower end of the range,” Mallarangeng said.

“All sports stakeholders need to sit together for an evaluation.”

Indonesia, which dominated the SEA Games from 1977 to 1997, sent 341 athletes to compete in 22 sports.

The event, with 11 Southeast Asian countries taking part, featured 25 sports offering 370 gold medals.

Indonesia finished behind overall champion Thailand and Vietnam, notching up 43 gold, 53 silver and 74 bronze medals.

At the 2007 SEA Games, Indonesia finished fourth with 56 gold medals.

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