We aspire to become a proud sporting nation

The Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports (MCYS) would like to acknowledge the writers, HMY and Sports Fan, for their letters – ‘Priority should go to sports we excel in’ and ‘Select national athletes through competitions’ – published in the Opinion page of the Bulletin on April 30 and May 4 respectively.

Thank you for sharing your views, especially your conviction in the value of sports at the national level, and concerns on the achievements of our national athletes at international games.

While every effort has been made to ensure that sports in Brunei adheres to the National Sports Policy, unavoidable shortcomings have admittedly led to an urgent need to review our strategies to determine our future success. Towards this, the 2020-2024 MCYS Strategic Plan includes the aim to achieve ‘A Proud Sporting Nation’ aspiration by 2024 through building a systematic sporting ecosystem.

As in any country, this ecosystem is one where the whole-of-nation approach and the sustained commitment of all stakeholders involved play a crucial role, together with continuous interventions for success, including specialised coaching, sports science and sports medicine support.

This is a recognition that developing high-performing athletes is a long-term process that requires collective effort not only by the government through its significant investment in hiring the best coaches, participation in competitions, training, equipment and capacity building programmes, but also the effort of non-government agencies, professionals, parents and most importantly, the athletes themselves, coaches and of course, national sports associations.

In ensuring our athletes are trained by the best coaches, the MCYS continues to invest in hiring international coaches for high performance and potential sports, including wushu, karatedo, pencak silat, taekwondo, swimming and fencing. We also look forward to the newly identified international coach to train our national lawn bowls athletes.

Ultimately, national sports associations play the crucial role in short-listing high-quality athletes to represent Brunei Darussalam in international games. This is vital to ensure the selection process by the committee continues to be objective, performance-based, transparent and stringent.

Although we acknowledge that the current emphasis is on sports that have consistently contributed medals in the international arena, it does not mean that other sports are given less priority.

The MCYS continues to look strategically at the best return on investment for each sport, including newly-identified sports, such as e-sports and weightlifting. It involves working closely with other agencies to improve sporting infrastructure for athletes. An example of this is the development of dedicated training areas for martial arts as part of the upgrading works of the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium to allow for more focussed training times.

At the same time, we agree with the writers on the importance of competitions as platforms to identify and develop sporting talent. Nevertheless, the impact of COVID-19 has caused the cancellation or postponement of many sporting events at national and international levels.

Insya Allah, as Brunei Darussalam enters the new norm in the Endemic Phase and beyond, more competitions will resume, including the National Sports Games (Sukan Kebangassan Brunei Darussalam) with an emphasis on higher competing standards at all levels.

Indeed, we must not underestimate the importance of ‘Sports for All’, especially its intangible value to inspire and drive participation of the community in sports. This is the cycle outlined in the National Sports Policy; a strong community sports base contributes to a high-quality development pathway, and in turn, encourages more participation at the grassroots level.

This is our way forward to develop a sustainable ecosystem for future success in sports in Brunei Darussalam, and ultimately, become ‘A Proud Sporting Nation’.

The Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports