Sports council denies minister behind coach’s removal

Instagram pic.

PETALING JAYA: The National Sports Council (NSC) today refuted allegations by national discus thrower Irfan Shamsuddin that Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman had terminated the contract of his coach despite the latter’s success in bringing several accolades to the country.

In an Instagram post yesterday, Irfan said Frantisek Petrovic had been removed even after helping him break the national record 13 times, win the SEA Games gold medal three times and bag a silver medal at the Asian Championships.

He also claimed there was no budget to go for a training camp overseas.

NSC director-general Ahmad Shapawi Ismail said he had looked into Irfan’s allegations and found that the decision had nothing to do with instructions or views from Syed Saddiq.

“I wish to stress that we are very disappointed with the rash accusations made by Irfan as a national athlete, which is why I feel the need to clarify what actually happened,” he said in a statement.

“This allegation is absolutely untrue. I wish to state that NSC did not offer a new contract to Petrovic based on discussions held with the council, the National Sports Institute, the Malaysian Olympics Council and the Malaysian Athletics Federation through the Athlete and Coach Selection Committee on Dec 5, based on Irfan’s current performance last year.

“In fact, there was a personal request made by Irfan himself who felt he had been coached by the same person for too long. But, because he did not want to upset the coach, Irfan asked us to take the action instead.”

Shapawi said this could be seen in Irfan’s efforts in November to go to Europe to find a new coach.

He also asked why Irfan had hurriedly forked out money to find a replacement coach if he had disagreed with the council’s decision not to extend Petrovic’s contract.

He said the NSC and the federation had proposed that Irfan train with the existing foreign coach, Gu Yuan, from China, along with the other athletes. However, Irfan disagreed, he said.

He said on Jan 7, Irfan had applied to both bodies to train in Europe and proposed a candidate for his coach – Imrich Bugar, 64, from the Czech Republic.

“The working committee, in a very limited time, took notice of this and discussed Irfan’s proposal. The committee suggested the federation hold fresh discussions with Irfan on the candidate, specifically on Bugar’s ability and coaching record.

“This was to ensure that if Bugar was appointed, he would be able to train Irfan as well as other discus throwers,” he said.

On Irfan’s allegation that the different sports bodies had not been fair and rational in rejecting his application to fund his overseas training programme in Prague, Czech Republic and Antalya, Turkey, for 85 days from Jan 23 to April 17, Shapawi said the former’s proposal needed to be scrutinised and discussed again with the chief national athletics coach.

He said there was a lack of complete information on the training centre to be used, especially as it was winter and there were no outdoor competitions for the discus event.

He said there was also no detailed programme on the training scope or the coach who would handle the training, along with the science and medical support services he would get.

“There was also no formal letter from the two countries, whether through their athletics clubs or associations, stating their acceptance of Irfan as a trainee there. What Irfan gave us was just a piece of paper containing his financial needs, as well as a brief curriculum vitae of coaching candidate Bugar,” he said.

Shapawi said he was very disappointed with Irfan, especially given the council’s efforts to help him achieve his dreams in sports.

“I wish to remind national athletes not to take advantage of our soft approach in the council in protecting and doing our best for them.

“All decisions are made collectively with other stakeholders, and of course we cannot satisfy one individual as we also need to be fair to other athletes,” he added.