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Producing our good citizens of the future
Published on: Sunday, April 16, 2017

By Datuk John Lo
A while ago, I wrote on the impressive Junior Golf Development Programme that has been organised by Sabah Golf and Country Club in KK.

I had the privilege of attending the Junior Golf Award Night on 8th April 2017.

The following day I also attended the IUD [International Understanding Day] festivities by the Interact Clubs under the supervision and auspices of the Rotary Club of Kota Kinabalu of which I am a member.

Attendance of these two events have set me thinking on the importance of these sort of activities for the youth and for nation building. One could sense the enthusiasm, hard work and dedication by these youngsters.

All these young people are so different in a good way in comparison to some of those who have become wayward and rebellious. The most impressive of these two events, staged under the supervision of dedicated adults with parental encouragement prove one very important thing – such events can help our young Sabahans to keep away from what I call “negative culture” and prepare them to become responsible, wholesome and productive citizens.

Who knows, there may be a world champion or two in the making too!

Participation of these events can enhance their confidence, ability to mix and socialise with other students of different races and religions in the true Sabahan culture.

The most outstanding feature that I can see is the encouragement for them to compete with other students of the same age group on a level playing field – no quarter given or taken! They compete fair and square.

Healthy competition will make whole citizens of tomorrow.

The IUD held in Suria Mall was very well attended. Thousands went. Students from 8 schools competed to outdo each other by choosing and showcasing a country of their choice. The preparations in the costumes, foods and stage shows were simply amazing. In doing so, they have learned the culture of another country even though they may not have visited it. Trans border learning has been made fun for them.

The Junior Golf Development Programme has all the positive ingredients for a wholesome template for training and grooming the very young to be future champions. This programme caters for children as young as below 6 to below 18 years. In other words, it has something for young people of all ages, with the youngest who may have just stopped sucking the milk bottles. It is pure joy to watch boys and girls swinging the golf clubs which are as tall as them! And they can hit the little white ball a long way!

The various awards given out that night are truly good reflections of the components for success in character building! These awards are well structured for various age groups. Each age group is divided into boys and girls.

For overall performance, there is the “best golfer” awards, for those who are not shy of hard work, there is the “hardest working golfer” trophy, also “most improved golfers”, “most disciplined golfer”, “most promising golfer” and the trophy to fight for is the “Golfer of the year”. Probably the most coveted ones are the “coach’s award” and “Captain’s award”. For the parents whose love and dedications for their children have not been forgotten – there is the “most supportive parent” trophy!

The titles of the awards are reflective of the essential elements and requirements of future success of these youngsters. At this tender age, these young golfers have the opportunity of being trained to appreciate the value of hard work, dedication, persistence, concentration, how to improve themselves and above all, self-discipline.

They also know that by doing all these things, there is the good feeling and joy of success and rewards.

Most importantly, they will learn what it takes to be competitive. Especially in golf they will learn the virtues of honesty in themselves and with their friends.

Looking at the unrestrained joys of these young golfers rushing to the stage to receive their trophies and the pride and love in the eyes of the adoring parents is something to behold in a life time.

The programme is barely 7-month-old under coach Fraser who has been able to mould these youngsters into an awesome team. It took on the rest of Sabah in a team tournament and was able to emerge victorious.

Behind all these successes is a dedicated and imaginative team under the chairmanship of Datuk Peter Khoo who is also the President of SGCC. The “founding father” of junior golf in Sabah must rightfully go to Orson Lo who has put in more than 20 years in the development of junior golf in Sabah which has produced all the 5 Sabahan golf professionals. One of them, Brandon Lau has donated 10pc of his professional earnings to the Junior Golf Development Programme!

It is remarkable that this programme has been self-financing so far with donations in cash and in kind from various individuals, parents and corporations.

The secrets of being able to attract these young people’s interest and sustain it is probably the most difficult.

It takes real imagination to create a programme that can achieve this. A large part of the success can be attributed to the parents who must have taken a great deal of personal interest in encouraging their sons and daughters to participate and to compete. One very good example is a young boy, barely 7 years old, pestered his mom to wake him at 5 am every morning for his training rounds and the tournament. Imagine a 7 year old telling his mom that he did not want to be late! Such enthusiasm is only possible with the constant urging of the parents.

This boy happens to be the grandson of Tan Sri Surkati Wakiman.

Back to my point to this sort of activities and nation building. I am sure there are all sorts of programmes and equally dedicated people in other type of youth activities. There are some common success denominators that can be gleaned from the IUD and Junior Golf Development Programmes such as dedicated organizers who love to contribute to youth development, willing to offer their time and organisational skills. Some even contribute money.

It may look simple. It is not for it is not easy to design programmes that can attract interest of the young people and sustain their interest. Then there is the question on imparting skills. The organisers need also to reach out to the parents, convince them and get them to keep their children interested. Obviously, a lot of hard work, long hours and dedication are required. In most instances, these organizers are volunteers, under-appreciated and recognised.

Contributing to youth development is not for people with personal agenda. Relevant Federal and State ministries and agencies should review their policies and modus operandi as they have been ineffective in combating social problems. This is especially true in Klang Valley and Kuala Lumpur. Sabah is lucky, this problem is not so pervasive, thanks to the many concerned Sabahans who are dedicated to the cause of youth development.

The authorities can start with identifying organisations and people who can deliver outstanding results, allocate funds for them if there is a need to so. Funding the right organisations and people can benefit more youths.

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