Myanmar Sport JournalThe Myanmar Sport Journal
Regional restoration, regional prestige: Southeast Asian Games in Myanmar, 2013 | The Journal of Asian Studies
We will be hosting the ASEAN[Association of Southeast Asian Nations] after the SEA Games. "Kyaw ", a likeable Rigg co-ordinator in his early 30s, relaxed on the floor with his woman and drank beers as he passed the stage before the opening game of Southeast Asia or SEA 2013 in Myanmar.
Myanmar's New Light of Myanmar praised itself: "With the honour of organising the games that came back to the nation after 44 years of waiting, Myanmar successfully staged the largest local sports event". "Thailand could not overtake Thailand as overall winner, but its emblematic victory as hosts was much more important."
"Myanmar has sunbathed in its hosting role and a scarce time in the world spotlight after years of separation under armed rule," said Agence France-Presse in a widely read paper. "A number of locals and internationals thought Myanmar could not play the SEA games. You were mistaken," said U Ye Htut, the victorious president's spokesperson.
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Funding needed for Myanmar's young athlets
Promising young men and girls deny the opportunity to coach for international clubs and promote Myanmar abroad because of low-pay. MYANMAR won their first ever Asian Games in 1974 when they beat Vietnam to reach the women's sinak Vakraw finals in 1998.
This was also the only time Myanmar won the Asian Games in Bangkok in 1998, and it was the beginning of a satisfactory run of wins for the Korean side, which has won 23 Asian Games since 1998. In spite of this continuing achievement, few youngsters are interested in playing for the international game.
It is a frustration for U Htut Khaing Nwe, Myanmar September Akraw Federation Secretariat. "The game is the most loved sport after Myanmar but it is very hard to win nationally," he commented. Dressing young adults is a major challange for most sports organisations in Myanmar. You say the primary cause is that most youngsters are not interested in making a sports carreer.
"It' s very hard to win new players," said U Saw Lu Lu Htaw, president of the Myanmar Hockey Federation. Khaing Nwe said that many young talents are not interested in making a livelihood out of sport because they have a low income. Above all, the upper classes are not interested in sport as a profession, most of those who are playing on a professional level are either wealthy or poverty.
Except for football players, it is hard to live as a pro athlete in Myanmar. The players were earning a low income until, after the creation of the Myanmar National League in 2009, they were strengthened by U Zaw Zaw, the Myanmar Football Federation's chief executive behind the team.
Establishment of a pro football association and associations supported by Zaw Zaw and other affluent businessmen allowed the club to make a fair livelihood. Several Myanmar footballers play abroad and one is expected to make at least US$7,000 (about K9.2 million) a months salary. Sports associations that have not become professionals turn to military and civil servant personnel to attract gamblers at federal levels.
Approximately 90 per cent of the domestic ice hockey squad are serving in the Tatmadaw and about the same proportion of the domestic Sepak-Takraw squad are from the state. Sportsmen and women who have been enlisted from the civil servants have the benefit that they already have an incomes, even if it is low. Sports associations often place governments positions for those qualifying for domestic competitions, but not all of them are willing to take on the challenge because of low wages.
37-year-old Zaw Zaw Aung is Myanmar representative at Peak takrav. He has won two Asian Games and three SEA Games gold awards since 2010. We won a SEA Games Goldmedal and got 10 million K, but we had to split it among five people. âThis is much lower than Thailand for instance, where the gamblers get at least 1 million bahts (K42. 4 million),â he said.
Much of Myanmar's nation's players come from the Institute of Sports and Physical Education in Yangon, founded in 1997. More than 100 awards have been won by his graduates in numerous contests around the world. Principal U Soe Aung said that few families are glad when their kids have a sports careers.
Lu Lu Lu Lu Htaw's ice team have clearly improved and won the Southeast Asia Games in Malaysia last year (at which Myanmar also won four Olympic golds in September takrav, two in Washington and one in shooting). It is an amazing performance for the Myanmar based ice rink squad, which has only one location in Myanmar, on the Thein Byu sports field near Lake Kandawgyi.
He admits that low income is the major barrier to the recruitment of young high-potentials. "It will be hard to choose a player for the international game. While it may be natural that player recruitment is a challenge for a sport like ice hockey, which does not have a large fan base in Myanmar, a similar scenario affects the women's junior side, the junior side, which has a large number of supporters.
In spite of the Asian Games in 1998 and 1974 and the Southeast Asian Games last year, the women's side is fighting for newcomers. "Sepaccaak Takrav gamers are becoming an endangered race," he said. The Myanmar Seepak Akraw Federation offers extra funding when athletes are in encamp.
For example, at the SEA Games, those who have won an interna-tional golden award will be awarded $75 a $60 per months, while those who have won a $60 per $60. However, this amount of funding is also a burden for sports associations that are receiving little state aid.
Costs for player support are mainly paid by affluent businessmen who preside over the associations. He is hoping that the overall picture will brighten and that more young people will have the opportunity to build their skills in sports for teams and individuals and to promote Myanmar at top level in the world. "He said, "I don't want my nation to be left behind in sport.