SEPAK Takraw Association of Malaysia (STAM) president Datuk Ahmad Ismail has claimed that financial burden, faced by national players, is among the factors contributing to their poor performances on court.Ahmad admitted that the national team are currently not at the desired level of performance but urged the public to understand their situation.
"We have a good programme in place which can help the team improve a lot. However, the players have not been able to give it their all during training as they have no peace of mind," said Ahmad.
"Some of them have other sources of income but for the rest, the RM500 (training) allowance is all they have.
"They are human beings who have wives, children and parents to take care of.
"How would you feel if you were in the midst of training and your wife calls to say your family has nothing to eat or has no money to buy milk for your child?
"This is also the reason we have trouble hanging on to players as some of them leave to find stable jobs."
Ahmad disclosed that improving the welfare of athletes, from the elite down to state level, is among the issues addressed in the 17-month programme (costing about RM8.8 million), which STAM had intended to present to Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak prior to their loss to South Korea earlier this month.
Ahmad also clarified on Khairy's claims that the association received about RM1 million in funding annually.
"It has been made to look like we receive RM1 million in cash each year which we can spend at will. The truth is we do not even touch most of that money as it is paid out directly. We only handle a small portion of that amount.
"From what we understand, that figure has gone towards accommodation for our players at the National Sports Complex which amounts to RM400,000. Another RM150,000 is for allowances for our 33 elite players, RM120,000 for equipment and RM150,000 for the players' attachment programme in Thailand.
"What remains is used for sending players to eight overseas and two local tournaments.
"I believe spending roughly RM15,000 to send the team to a tournament is a reasonable amount."
Khairy had earlier this month threatened to stop the association's funding until it can come up with a solid recovery plan for the sport.