Feb 9: Bernama reported:
According to DPM Najib:
Feb. 13: The Sun reported:
renovation work at the Malaysian High Performance Sports Training Centre in Brickendonbury, Hertfordshire, England costing 10 million pounds (RM70 million) is expected to be completed by April. it was a minimal renovation involving the construction of a hostel for athletes and a soccer pitch. The renovation will NOT exceed 10 million pounds. It is a forward base for long-term and short-term training or transit the national junior soccer squad would likely be the first team to use the facilities in April should negotiations between the Football Association of Malaysia and an English Premier League team, Arsenal materialise.
The National Sports Council director-general Datuk Dr Ramlan Aziz said the council would get the assistance of sports scientists from two universities close to the centre, namely the University of Nottingham and Loughbrough University, for Malaysian athletes training there.
The government's plans to convert the Tun Abdul Razak Research Centre in Brickendonbury, Hertfordshire, outside London into a high-performance centre for our athletes has hit a brick wall. Or for that matter, may end up as a non-starter.
Despite DPM Datuk Seri Najib Razak announcing that the training centre will be fully operational in April, it will NEVER happen - an application for permission to renovate the centre has YET to be submitted to the local authority.
Feb 26: The Sun reported:
NOT a blade of grass has been cut, NOR a single pile driven for the proposed Malaysian High Performance Sports Training Centre in Brickendonbury in Hertfordshire, UK, but almost RM1 million of public funds has ALREADY been spent.
The bulk of the money has been paid to St. Albans-based architect and town planner, David Lane Associates, which has sent two invoices -- one for RM350,000 and another for RM450,000 -- for "work done" to apparently transform part of the Tun Abdul Razak Research Centre (TARRC) into a mini-sports complex.
The amount does NOT include the travel expenses and allowances of sports officials who have periodically visited the architect and the site over the past eight months.
This is even BEFORE planning application to renovate the centre has been submitted to the East Herts Council.
....the supposed plan for the national under-16 football team to train at the Arsenal Football Club may NOT materialise.
An Arsenal spokeswoman on Thursday told the Sun in a telephone interview that the club was totally in the dark over training the Malaysian team. "We are not involved in any project to train any team from Malaysia," she said.
Malay Mail report (Feb 26th):
The proposed Malaysia-Arsenal joint-venture to equip the country’s young footballers with the necessary weaponry to raise their game has been thrown into doubt after it emerged that NO formal discussion had been held between the two parties.
This was confirmed through an e-mail response from the communications department of Arsenal to Mailsport on Friday.“I am afraid we are not able to provide you with answers to your questions or an official club comment, however, I can confirm that the club does not know about the proposed arrangement and furthermore, we have no involvement in any such project,” the statement said.
An independent website on the Olympic Games 2012, claimed the idea was shrouded in mystery. “We have no knowledge of this training camp or these proposals. I can categorically say that we have not been approached by the Malaysian Government,” an Arsenal spokesman told the paper.
COMMENTARY: by R. Nadeswaran (The Sun, Feb.13) Read here for more
" Has Najib been deceived?
....Who gave the DPM wrong or false information on the progress of the plans to turn the Tun Abdul Razak Research Centre in Brickendonbury into a high-performance centre for our athletes?
Based on such information, Najib (Feb 8) announced the centre would be fully operational by April.
...(But) news from the East Herts Council (said) that no application to renovate the centre has been received.
Why wasn't Najib told the truth?
Shouldn't he have been told that the application has YET to be submitted and work would only start after the council gives its go-ahead?
Someone goofed - and goofed big time.
And how did those involved in the project arrive at a figure of £10 million (RM69 million)?
A quick on-line search of the classified columns of the local newspapers in the area reveal that three-bedroom houses cost between £150,000 and £250,000. Therefore, taking the higher end, the government will be better off buying 40 houses instead of spending such a humongous sum just to renovate the existing centre.
Besides, if the under-16 footballers are going there to be trained by Arsenal, Brickendonbury should be the last place where they should be housed. Arsenal's training base is in London Conley - 60km away, which means someone is going to suggest purchasing a coach, which means more money.
Sports Minister Datuk Azalina Othman says after the footballers, the hockey players will be based there. But the base of British hockey is in Milton Keynes, where there are proper training facilities.
Wouldn't it be worthwhile investing in property in and around such centres? For example, the home of British athletics is in Crystal Palace where pre and post-competition conditioning is carried out.
Now, we hear that there are plans to expand the swimming pool.
Unless it is a heated indoor pool, it will be redundant for a good nine months of the year!
Why are we obsessed with having a "high-performance centre" when our athletes (except for squash and badminton players) have NOT achieved any significant standards to warrant being sent to such a centre?
Or for that matter, is such a centre necessary when the standards of most of our athletes are mediocre, to say the least?
So, why all this money on something that will not bring the desired results?
Having said that, it was the same sports ministry which paid substantial sums of money to the Everton Football Academy, whose coaches came to our shores two years ago. They held coaching clinics in Penggarang, Pekan and Kepala Batas, which happen to be the constituencies of Azalina, Najib and Pak Lah respectively.
So, where are the boys who went through the Everton coaches?
Have they made any significant improvement and are they knocking on the doors of the national team?
It's time to re-look at how taxpayers' money is used.
Yes, we need to to excel in sports.
Yes, we need world beaters, but we certainly can do WITHOUT a high-performance centre until we reach greater heights.