Singapore sepaktakraw faces challenging future amidst suspension

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SINGAPORE: Uncertainty surrounds the future of the local sepaktakraw scene following the International Sepaktakraw Federation’s (ISTAF) decision to suspend the Singapore Sepak Takraw Federation (PERSES). In addition, PERSES’ status as a ‘National Sports Association’ has been revoked as it no longer qualifies to be an affiliate member with the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) following the termination of its membership with the World Sepaktakraw body.

ISTAF announced in a media release on Nov 28 that the decision to terminate PERSES membership was taken following an executive committee meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on Nov 4. The statement mentioned that ISTAF executive committee had found “grave misconduct within PERSES’s leadership.”

The world sepaktakraw body added that PERSES president Nasri Haron and secretary general Zahid Abdul Aziz had previously been handed a 12-year and seven-year suspension by the Asian Sepaktakraw Federation (ASTAF). These suspensions came after ASTAF disciplinary proceedings highlighted serious violations on misconduct charges in Nov 2022.

With the current situation at PERSES, former Singapore national sepaktakraw head coach Salleh Nanang feels that amidst these challenges, the sport will be able to grow again with a good captain commanding the ship.

“It will take time for sepaktakraw in Singapore to grow again with all these challenges. It is not easy as it will need the cooperation of everyone involved, whether it is the management, players and coaches of every level of sepaktakraw in Singapore,” shared the former Singapore national sepaktakraw head coach Salleh with The Independent Singapore.

“If the president and the secretary-general had already been suspended in the first place (by ASTAF), they should have been very cautious, and maybe this could have been prevented. We must think about the association and the welfare of the sport in Singapore.”

On Oct 15, PERSES announced the results of their latest annual general meeting with president Nasri and secretary-general Zahid, who were re-elected to the board of members for the 2023-2027 term.

“Both Mohd Nasri Haron and Zahid Abdul Aziz are also banned from any future roles in PERSES’s Board or Council. Their continued involvement in PERSES operations, including participating in PERSES Annual General Meeting on 14 October 2023, showed a blatant disregard for ASTAF’s governance policies,” mentioned ISTAF in their statement.

Welfare and Future of Sepaktakraw in Singapore

A passionate sepaktakraw player and coach, Salleh has been on the scene since his youth and represented Singapore at the 1981 SEA Games until the 1987 SEA Games in Jakarta, Indonesia. Naturally, when he heard about PERSES suspension by ISTAF, the first thing that came to his mind was what would happen to the national players and whether there would be local tournaments for the players to participate in.

“Without the official recognition of PERSES as an NSA now, what will happen and what is the plan from here? I am thankful that SportSg have mentioned they will take care of the players for the major games, but what about the rest? So there are lots of questions being asked around now, but with very few answers,” shared Coach Salleh who has been a coach at Changkat Changi Secondary School for 16-year-old.

“I hope there will be more answers by the relevant authority or organisation on how they will be able to assist with the national players, and other players that have the potential to represent Singapore. We must not let them feel discouraged with the current situation.”

Coach Salleh explained that even before the suspension, there were local competitions, but the association needs to organise them frequently to give the players more exposure.

“You see Malaysia and Thailand, they have monthly tournaments for their local players. This will improve the quality and standard of sepaktakraw in the country. My overseas sepaktakraw friends sent me updates, photos and videos, of their tournaments,” added the 62-year-old.

“There need to be more local competitions, there are indeed many young sepaktakraw players, at schools and youth level. It is not that we don’t have good players, it is everyone’s responsibility, including me as a coach too. We all must work together, find these players and train them properly.”

Coach Salleh hopes that this current leadership turmoil and membership suspension will be resolved soon, as it affects many stakeholders in the local sepaktakraw scene, such as the clubs and affiliate members.

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