LAST week, I dwelt on the need to have top-class administration to achieve consistently-good results, be it in any field. Though we made huge strides as successful organisers of global events, often involving
big budgets, the stark reality is that our on-field performances failed to match our ambition.
I’m very disappointed to say that barring a Nasser Al Attiyah or Mutaz Barshim, we haven’t been able to produce any genuine world-class talent in individual disciplines.
There was a glimmer of hope when, our Under-19 footballers won the Asian crown in 2014, but they failed to sustain the momentum. The future doesn’t look rosy either, as our U-17 and U-20 teams failed to qualify for the World Cups.
Under these circumstances, it’s needless to say that we’ve to get our priorities right. It’s time we had a second look at the way we run our sports set-up, which has always been propped up by the government and its largesse.
A recent study conducted by Doha-based Josoor Institute said there was a lack of trained (read professional) personnel which impeded the growth of sports industry in the Middle East. It revealed football was the most popular sport in the region, but ironically it was the European leagues that enjoyed five times more popularity than domestic competitions.
When you add this to Alex Phillips’ (Head of Asia-Europe Affairs at UEFA) observation that “the technical community in Asia isn’t as strong as it’s in Europe” (full interview on pages 10-11), it makes clear why our region lags behind.
According to him, the difference lies in the style of management and administration. While officials in Europe are competent enough to stay strong and keep focus on the game, resisting any undue influence from those pursuing commercial or business interests, the situation in Asia is different.
I feel this is largely due to a shortage of professionals in administration. It’s time to revamp our sports management set-up, redraw our plans and do away with honorary roles, so that it’ll function more effectively.