Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Malaysian coach to get fully funded scholarship to study at AIS

KUALA LUMPUR: For the first time, a Malaysian coach will get to learn the ropes from the Australian Institute of Sports (AIS) through a scholarship programme.

The Australian and Malaysian governments will sign a Memo­randum of Understanding (MoU) later this year and the former will fully fund the coach’s programme.

Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Stephen Smith said yesterday that the scholarship agreement was reached yesterday by both parties.

“I would like to formally announce that we will provide a scholarship for a coach to learn at the AIS,” he said at a media conference at the High Commissioner’s residence.

“There are many areas where Australia and Malaysia can work together and enhance their cooperation. Sports is one such avenue open to us.

“We believe that by opening our door for Malaysians to learn, we will put in place the chance for sporting excellence here.

“There are many sports that we can provide assistance but at the same time Malaysia too have champions in sports like squash and badminton.”

Also present at the events were the Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) president, Tunku Tan Sri Imran Tuanku Ja’afar, and the National Sports Institute (NSI) director general, Datuk Dr Ramlan Aziz.

The Australian minister also said that it would be a great achievement for Malaysia if they could finally land their first Olympic gold medal in London in 2012.

“I think that would be truly historic. I would like to think that it is an achievable feat and we hope that a small gesture like the scholarship will go a long ways towards achieving this dream,” said Smith.

Dr Ramlan said that the scholarship was exciting news for them as it provided an opportunity for our coaches to learn form the best.

“The Australians have a good structure with the sports institute and have bred a lot of world champions,” he said.

“There is no doubt that we can learn from them. We will work out the mechanics of the programme and how to select the candidate,” he said.

Smith added that the programme would take off once the MOU was signed.

“We have not set the date for the signing but we want it to be sooner. It should be before the end of the year,” he said.

“Hockey and cycling are two of the sports that have regular contacts with my country. Cycling has already set up a training base in Melbourne and we are happy with the arrangements. Likewise, there is more we can do to help each other.”

The minister later met three Malaysian cyclists present at the ceremony yesterday. They were Mohd Faiz Syarifuddin, Mohd Yusrizal Usof and Mohd Syarikir Ismail.

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