No wonder our national schools have been paying scant attention to sports (and music). Budget cutback. I see.
I was wondering why I never got invited to Adel's and Shaira's sports day. I am remembering one or two in their primary school.
When I asked, I was told that sports day was a low-key event -- just for students and staff.
And I had never attended any of their annual concerts. Again, I'm not sure if there were any to speak of. Low-key affair?
I come from a generation of Malaysians who went to schools where sports and music were strongly encouraged.
Of course, those were the days when female students wore shorts in PE (physical education) classes and for sports and games. But, well, that's another story. One I'm sure you'd like to hear.
For the lot of us back then, sports and games were an integral part of school. It was also the fun side of school. We, of course, never realized it -- being active in sports shaped our body and mind, and trained us to excel. Besides, as they say -- a healthy body, a healthy mind.
In my time, in my school (Assunta Secondary in Petaling Jaya), we had two national sporting figures who were both close friends of mine -- (SEA games silver medallist) sprinter Angeline Chivapathy and hockey player Evelyn Koelmeyer.
I never made it to national-level sports but I was a school (short-distance runner/sprinter, hurdler and long jumper) athlete (in my school athletics club) and played hockey, softball and football (now soccer...yes, bola sepak) for my school.
(The only girls' school with a football team.)
You know, come to think of it, taking part in sports and games in those days was a natural thing to do in school.
It was like something you would want to be part of. No second thoughts. The only thing was deciding which sport you excelled or wanted to excel in.
Kak Eda, my younger sisters Azah and Lalin, and I were all active in school sports.
It was what school was all about. And our sports day and annual concert were the highlight of every school year.
I enjoyed sports so much that my first year in college, I signed up to take part in the 100-metre run. Didn't win, of course. Didn't have much practice and things were a little different in college. Too many distractions.
Still, my love for sports has made me the woman I am today.
So, when my kids began primary school, I encouraged them to take part in their "sukan".
I remember Adel's sports day when he was in standard one. But the rest of his primary school years seemed to past by without any excitement of a school sports day.
It was the same with Shaira too.
It made me wonder.
It got worse in secondary school. I don't remember anything remotely related to their sports day.
Shaira was a little lucky. After her PMR, I took her out of national school and sent her to a private school in Subang where you get to play games, swim, learn a musical instrument (piano for her) and learn a third language (Mandarin).
I had good reason to take her out of national school. I realized that our school system is hard on non-Science students. At least in Shaira's school. Teachers don't give a damn for non-Science students. So she was very demoralised, very discouraged and dispirited.
Adel was lucky because he excelled in science and mathematics so the school loved him. He was in the first science class and a potential mutliple-A SPM holder. So, he was a statistic to keep the good numbers (of 8-As SPM results) going for the school.
If you don't know this already, but our schools are excruciatingly concerned about keeping a good track record of A-list SPM results.
Anyway, back to sports in schools -- what I do remember is attending their sports day when they were in kindergarten -- in Villa Maria Good Shepherd. Now, that was a lot of fun.
What a pity that they never got to experience that kind of "sporting" fun when they graduated to "sekolah betul".
Thank God, Adel loves sports and games. He plays basketball and used to play regularly with his school buddies -- Dhanraj, Kevin, Irfan, Nazrin and Harith. And tennis, on his own, having taken lessons at our club. No encouragement from his teachers.
So, why do we all lament the dearth of Malaysian sportsmen and women over the years. We asked for it.
How do top class athletes and sportsmen get to be where they are?
Something sure went wrong in our school system somewhere in the last few decades of the last century.
So much was lost.
Let's hope we can regain our love for sports now that the the government is putting back the allocation for sports in schools.
Let's hope it is not too little too late to start all over again.