PETALING JAYA: Mohd Noor Amin was in his preadolescence when he discovered he could bash out a catchy, punchy, effective slogan.
It was at a time when advertisers gave away cars, appliances, trips and cash to consumers who won slogan writing contests.
For over 20 years from the 1970s, Amin was a serial slogan writing champion, making good prose, and scooping lucrative prizes.
From winning a colour television set at age 11, he went on to win four cars, numerous holidays, cash, appliances and a trip to the 1998 football World Cup in France.
In one year, he won half a million ringgit worth of prizes, and a highlight of his prize haul was a family holiday in the US.
He took 18 family members, and their maid, for the holiday after earning three million enrich points from Malaysia Airlines – and still had excess points.
Today, Amin’s fondness for creative writing and love of sports has drawn him to the efforts of four former sportswriters, who have created a connective, humane and glorious event called Sports Flame.
Amin, 54, applauded the former journalists, George Das, R Velu, Lazarus Rokk and Fauzi Omar, for celebrating Malaysia’s past sporting brilliance, and for reconnecting greats from the 1960s, 70s and early 80s.
The King and Queen will grace the spectacle, which is supported by FMT, and will see more than 100 athletes, coaches, officials and sportswriters from the eras on Dec 9 at Concorde Hotel, Kuala Lumpur.
Silent heroes, unique event
Amin, an entrepreneur and lawyer, said he was giving financial assistance, “not a handout”, as the event was an important element in unity and national identity.
He said: “If there’s support I can provide to help recognise the people behind Malaysia’s success in sports in those times, that will be gratifying for me.”
Amin said former sportswriters celebrating sports legends was a “fabulous and unique thing”.
“They are really the silent heroes, who have spent a lifetime writing about sports and its personalities.”
He said sport was more than just the sportsmen. “Others, including sportswriters, have made an incredible contribution, not just by reporting, but by rallying people together for a common cause.
“Without the journalists, none of them would be known to the public, and if they are not known, they won’t be celebrated.
“And if they are not celebrated, the unifying factor which sports can bring will not be there,” he said.
He agreed that without the sportspeople, journalists wouldn’t have had stories. “But the media landscape was different in those days when there was no Internet and social media, only radio, and then TV.
“While the sportspersons made reporting enjoyable, it was the journalists who managed to capture the public’s imagination.
“Radio and TV relayed the highlights, but newspapers provided human interest stories and analysis, enabling people to get to know the personalities better,” he said.
Amin said the bonding between the media and sports figures then was exemplary, while Sports Flame’s way of saying thanks to the greats was noble.
“The event is also a tremendous honour for the journalists, and I hope more countries emulate that,” he said.
Treasuring past pride, lifting the young
Amin hopes the younger generation will appreciate what sports in the past has done to make us one as a nation.
He said some of the icons were not just known for their names but for achieving dreams at the highest level, surviving the challenges that came with it, and making Malaysia a sporting powerhouse.
“By recognising the legends, I hope we can inspire the younger generation to reflect on what was done right then. That will be a start to recreate that environment to excel once again, and get behind the country and our athletes,” he said.
Amin will not be able to attend the event due to prior obligations abroad, but he has a message for the celebrants: “You shaped many of our lives, played a big part in nation building, and made Malaysia what it was then. Sports, then, rallied Malaysians, people were colour blind, and these are the things that unite us.”
FMT’s managing director, Azeem Abu Bakar, said it was crucial to hail sports stars with the same enthusiasm and energy that are reserved for other public figures.
“Recognition can inspire and encourage young people to push forward and work harder, while offering an opportunity to acknowledge and thank those who do it,” he said.
Azeem contends that some top athletes fulfil a vital social function, as they provide happiness, hope, inspiration, and a sense of national character.
He said FMT was committed to the raising of shared esteem through all aspects of nation-building.