Life as a national athlete with Malaysia’s very own

By Iylia Marsya Iskandar

GOMBAK, 31 August 2021: Hard work and perseverance is no mean feat in a national athlete’s life. The winnings, losses, injuries, and failures that our athletes faced are synonymous to years of dedication and training all for our beloved country, Malaysia. 

This point of view is reflected in the #YouMatter special series on Malaysia’s Independence Day entitled “Sukan Demi Negara: Ganbatte Malaysia!” that was broadcast live on Monday (30 August). 

The one-hour live session featured three national athletes namely a former Sepak Takraw athlete and a current sports commentator for Astro Arena, Mr. Azlan Mubin, a former netball athlete and a current coach at Bukit Jalil Sports School (BJSS), Mrs. Farhana Mustafa and a national bowling player, Miss Natasha Roslan. 

Athletes and injuries 

Reminiscing their early days as athletes, Azlan shared that the term athletes and injuries goes hand-in-hand, and one cannot escape from being injured. He further said that as a high performing athlete, that is the risk that athletes must face. 

However, speaking from experience as someone who suffered from an ACL injury, the National Sports Council (MSN) and National Sports Institute (ISN) provides adequate support and rehabilitation for athletes to come back after an injury. 

He said: “We will not be disqualified from the national team immediately; we will be given chances and support to come back and we will be taken care of but if it is severe then we will be given other options.”

Meanwhile, Mrs. Farhana also shared that it took her six years to make to the national team and she too has faced injuries along her journey up to today. 

“My injury is not an excuse for me to give up and I have brought it along with me in my successes in the 2017 and 2019 Southeast Asian Games. Currently, I am still recovering from my injury,” she shared. 

In the perspective of a coach, Mrs. Natasha emphasised that this injury would help her understand her athlete’s condition one day. 

Due to her passion in the field of netball, she has made the decision to be a coach at BJSS to dignify the sports from the grassroot level as netball is a newly popular sports in Malaysia after the Southeast Asian Games. 

As a bowling athlete, Natasha also shares on the ways where one can get injured. Even though it is a casual sport where people play at gatherings, high performing athletes are also at risk to get injured at their hands and spine if there is a mistake when they are rolling the bowling balls. 

On another note, Miss Natasha said that being an athlete is an expensive field. 

Balancing time as a student athlete

“As a bowling athlete, you will have to buy shoes and bowling balls and bowling balls can cost as much as RM800 but as a national athlete, I am supported by MSN and ISN.

When I first started, I used the same bowling ball since I was six years old until I was 15. I did not want to buy a new one because I was comfortable. However, in bowling, there are different techniques, and you might need different balls, so I have to buy a new one,” she shared.

Furthermore, Natasha is a current student at Sunway University. As a student athlete, she also shared with the audience how she can excel in both sports and studies. 

Even though she has to sacrifice her time for studies, Natasha has managed to establish a system that works for her and her supportive lecturers. 

“Usually when I go for trainings and tournaments, I will complete my assignments earlier or during my tournament before I have to focus on my games. I will notify my lecturers and they will provide some time for me for one-to-one classes on the syllabus that I have missed,” she said. 

Athletes and mental health 

Not only that athletes are susceptible to physical injuries, athletes are prone to mental health problems as well. 

Mr. Azlan and Mrs. Farhana shared that athletes are under a lot of pressure and the biggest challenge of being an athlete is the fight you have within yourself. 

As they played in team sports, there is always the pressure of wanting to put your best performance for your team and win the competition over all. 

“From my experience, I have difficulty in sleeping that worsened my mental health. I keep on pondering if I could give the same effort with my team because if I could not, it will affect our game play. 

So what I did was, I went to see a psychologist to help me get through that stage,” Farhana shared. 

She urged anyone facing mental health problems to seek help as there are a lot of help available online especially on social media. 

Before ending the session, Mrs. Farhana highlighted that being an national athlete is a long process of training and dedication. 

“I would like to advise the junior athletes and my students, if they have a desire to be on the national team, do not give up until their dreams are realised. It is not an easy journey, it took me years of hardships to be on the team so do not give up,” she said.

The #YouMatter series is a series specialising on mental health. It is a collaboration between IIUMtv, Council of Principals (COPS), Counselling and Career Services Centre (CCSC), IIUMToday, IIUM.fm, Secretariat of Psychology (PSYCSTA), Kulliyyah of Language and Management Students’ Society (KLMSS), Allied Health Science Students’ Society (HEALS), Bachelor of Education Students’ Society (BEDSA) and Islamic Revealed Knowledge and Human Sciences Students’ Society (IRKHSSS).

Those who are interested to watch the full version of the episode can click here.***

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