By R. Vikneswaran
KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 13 (Bernama) -- For two-years, the Malaysian Snooker and Billiards Federation (MSBF) has been denied the use of the snooker and billiards tables bought for the 2017 Kuala Lumpur SEA Games.
After much haggling, the SEA Games athletes were allowed to use the international standard tables just a month ago.
Finally, with 108 days remaining for the 2019 Philippine SEA Games in November, the 11 cueists from the national squad will be able to start their centralised training over the next two weeks at the Cuesports Academy Malaysia in Bandar Sunway.
The six snooker tables, each costing around RM20,000, and five pool tables (costing around RM12,000 to 15,000 each) bought for the Kuala Lumpur Games, were kept in the store as the Malaysian SEA Games Organising Committee (MASOC) had yet to do the auditing.
This irked the MBSF as the facilities could not be utilised for the benefit of the national athletes who have consistently brought home medals from the biennial games.
MBSF president Melvin Chia revealed the scenario facing the team as development funding for the sport ceased seven years ago and the training fund for the SEA Games athletes to prepare for the Manila Games was approved a few weeks ago.
He said the new tables for the KL Games were loaned to them about a month ago, and that two snooker tables were damaged due to improper storage.
Nevertheless, he thanked the National Sports Council (NSC) for approving the fund for the Philippine SEA Games.
The Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) approved five athletes under the fully-funded Category A, and is considering six more under Category B.
After failing to meet the two-gold-medal target at the 2017 SEA Games, the MBSF was practically sidelined from the consistent training programme for athletes.
“The SEA Games programme will kick off in less than two weeks with players racing against time to prepare for the games with no international tournaments in the pipeline,” Chia told Bernama.
“If we look back, we have been delivering gold medals in almost all the SEA Games, from the 2011 Indonesia to 2013 Myanmar to 2015 Singapore editions, except in 2017 because we had a lot of issues and a bad draw,” he said.
Malaysia will compete in 10 different categories in the cue sports at the Manila Hotel Tent City and has targeted at least a gold medal after having bagged only three bronze in the Kuala Lumpur Games.
The five athletes in Category A are former Asian junior champion and 2017 bronze medallist Moh Keen Hoo, Lim Kok Leong and Reza Hassan (for the men’s snooker) while 2017 women’s 9-ball pool singles bronze medallists Suhana Dewi Sabtu and Klaudia Djajalie have been listed for the women’s pool event.
“All this while, we were depending on players developed from the previous programme (started in 2002). We need to act quickly before we run out of players. But the main challenge is difficulty in getting sponsorship as not many tournaments are organised in Malaysia,” he said.