Malaysia Touch Looks to the Future with a Bold Plan
March 10, 2021 @ 0:00 UTC
COVID19 has given Touch in Malaysia the breathing space to conduct a comprehensive restructuring and plan for an exciting future.
The leadership of Touch in Malaysia has used the Pandemic induced hiatus to undertake a comprehensive restructure. We contacted the major driver of this change, Malaysia Touch Association (MTA) President Hj. Ahmad Sufiani Johari, to find out more about these exciting developments and to delve into the future plans Mr Sufiani has for Touch in the South East Asian nation.
Working with Government
Collaboration with government has been a key focus for the leadership of Touch in Malaysia since before the 2019 World Cup in Putrajaya. MTA President Mr Sufiani said that in preparation for the tournament, Malaysia Touch, “Received direct support from His Excellency the Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad,” as well as from eight government ministries. The Malaysian government directly invested 10 million Malaysian Ringgit ($2.45 million USD) into expanding and improving the facilities at the World Cup venue.
Close cooperation with government has continued since the 2019 World Cup and culminated with the Malaysian Sports Ministry approving the formation of the new Malaysia Touch Association in October 2020. The MTA 10- year plan was an important part of the pitch for government support. This is a bold plan for success and for Mr Sufiani the goals are clear and comprehensive “(A) Malaysia to be a fully developed Touch nation by 2031. (B) Malaysia to be top 3 world ranked in either Men’s Open, Women’s Open, Mixed Open, Women’s 27s, Men’s 30/40/50. (C) To bring home the 1st World Cup medal in 10 years’ time. Our aim is to achieve this during the 12th Touch World Cup in 2031.” This is a hugely ambitious plan, especially considering Malaysia competed at the World Cup for the first time in 2015.
With such lofty goals set in the 10-year plan the MTA will attempt to increase player numbers quickly. The player base currently is quite healthy. According to Mr Sufiani, there are 1644 Touch players in Malaysia with 148 teams. This compares favourably with other emerging Touch nations. On the other hand, the more established Touch nation and neighbour Singapore has about 5000 players.
The MTA is currently working to establish a State Touch Association (STA) in each of the 16 states and territories of Malaysia. “These initiatives have certainly created further interest from the respective states particularly those outside Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya, to build teams, players, referees and later on coaches,” said Mr Sufiani.
World cup effect
The very act of hosting the 2019 World Cup gave Touch in Malaysia a significant profile boost. “I must say that the TWC has certainly brought a significant impact to Touch in Malaysia. This is especially so in the growth of players. We see more players joining Touch from the corporate and private sectors,” noted Mr Sufiani.
There was significant media coverage of the 2019 World Cup domestically. Mr Sufiani said that 12 news agencies covered the event with print and digital stories in both English and Malay. “In terms of stories, 40 stories were reported by local print and media and 12 television slots were broadcast. The return on investment (ROI) from local media coverage was estimated at 733,000 Ringgit ($177,000 USD)”
Junior development the key to success
Youth development will be vital if Malaysia is to become an established Touch nation. Touch is already played in both local government schools and international schools. There are over 600 school- based youth players. The MTA has established a school pathway for girls and boys from under 6 to under 18 years of age. The MTA has a Youth Commission and plans to send teams to future World Youth Cups. The creation of State Touch Associations all across the country will serve to increase the availability of Touch as a sporting option for children outside of the traditional Touch strongholds of Selangor, KL and Putrajaya in the Klang Valley.
The MTA is keen to expose Malaysia’s Touch players to high-level competition regularly. Domestically there will be a National Development Program, National Club Championship and a National Touch League. Internationally there will be access to an International Club Challenge and then for national-level players Test Matches, Asia Cup, Youth World Cup and Touch World Cup.
It will be fascinating to follow the progress of the MTA 10 year plan. It is an ambitious plan from a dynamic Touch association. Malaysian Touch hosted a very well-organized World Cup 2019 and their plan for the future is as detailed as it is ambitious. Under the leadership of Hj. Ahmad Sufiani Johari the MTA is almost a sure thing to pull it off!