Sports Minister DS Reezal explains the return to training concept for sports.

Youth and Sports Minister Dato Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican , though elated at the return of sports,albeit in a gradual manner, wore a serious look when posed questions.

DS Reezal was concerned at the compliance level and was silently saying a prayer that things do not get out of hand

He shares his thoughts on the gradual opening of sports as announced by the Prime Minister on Sunday as well as the Senior Minister Dato Seri Ismail Sabri Yaacob.

Question: What is your feeling on the announcement of gradual return to sports as well as your concerns?

DSRM: l While elated at the approval given, I do feel some apprehension. This is because getting the approvals was already challenging but ensuring compliance is a bigger worry for all of us. Those involved in sports are often said to have a high degree of discipline and this is a litmus test and we need to be compliant of the SOP”s and make sure there is no chance of infection amongst our sports fraternity. This calls for team work and I hope all involved will adhere to the set proticils

Question: What will your advise be to those affected and businesses that are allowed to operate in the sports industry?

DSRM: Three months is a long period to be unable to be active in sports. But it was done for a very valid reason. Nothing is greater then a human life and the patience shown by all stakeholders in sports was remarkable. Now as we overcame one obstacle, we need to overcome several others. Normalcy may not be around the corner but with this relaxation of rules of the MCO, at least we are at the starting block of a race. Where we finish will depend on our ability to adhere to regulations. Many have sacrificed a great deal over the past few months, be it those involved in sports as athlete. Official or even in the sports industry. Their sacrifices were not in vain and trust me we will do our best to help the sports industry recover from this setback. Together we can complete the race, let’s assume this is a 4x400m hurdles race and we have successfully completed the first 200m and together we aim to overcome the next 200 meters.

Question: Can all sports venue Operators resume their business and how do they go about it?

DSRM: There are several steps that the operators/owners need to full-fill before they can start operations on Monday June 15.

Firstly they need to apply for approval via the MITI website commencing today, Monday June 8.

We have discussed this with MITI and if the application is in order, the notification will be sent.

Those given the approval need to agree to comply with the SOP’s.

The Ministry will send it’s officers, at federal and state levels to monitor these centres and look at the compliance of the said SOP.

Any violation could result from an initial warning to withdrawal of the approval.

So realistically they have seven days to meet the requirements and get their premises sanitised and ready to receive customers.

One word of caution though – adhere to the social distancing aspect and not just look at profits and risk the well being of their clients.

Question: What are the sports that are permitted under the RMCO phase?

DSRM: We have a total of 113 types of sports activities in the country.

To make it simple, no direct contact is permitted, therefore for example sports like Football, Hockey, Netball, Combat Sports are prohibited. However they could still go on with training drills that are non contact and must maintain a distance of 2-5 meters from each individuals. They could improvise their training drills by doing circuit training drill so as to avoid a large group at any certain time.

Non contact sports such as archery, Takraw, Volleyball, snooker , are allowed as long as it’s not match play but training .

However for all sports, no Competitions are permitted, be it contact or non contact sports.

Question : Will team sports be allowed ?

DSRM: Sports that are having any form of physical contact are still prohibited and by this I mean sports like for example Football, Hockey. Netball. Rugby, Kabaddi , though not exhaustive.

However they can still conduct training but must not have any other physical contact and remain 2-5 meters apart.

For example squash , they can go back to the courts but one person to one court. This is an innovative way to comply with requirements but yet an opportunity to work on skills and their physiology requirements.

Question: Can conoetitions or tournaments be organised at any levels?

DSRM: The ban on organisation of any competition or tournament, be it domestic or international is still in force . And this applies to all sports, no exceptions are granted.

Question: Where are pool sports not given the green light yet to resume?

DSRM: We truly understand the sentiments of those involved in water sports. Though there is no evidence that the virus can be transmitted through water, there is also no evidence to state otherwise. Our concern is not the pool but the personal hygiene factors such as shower and changing rooms. We are seriously looking at best practices as MKN has asked us to do more research on pool activities on Saturday. Trust me we will do more research before taking the case back to MKN.

Question: In a nutshell, what is allowed and what is not?

DSRM: There are four areas that is vital in determining who gets back and who does not.

No contact

No competition

No mass gatherings

No water sports

Adhere to this and you can do no wrong, it’s that simple.