Royal call to set sights on sporting achievements
Syafiq Affendy

The 2012 Brunei Sports Convention and Expo was launched with the hope to obtain an overview of the focus and direction of sports in Brunei Darussalam, where all parties, private and public sports institutions in particular, were called upon to cooperate and take a serious role in enhancing sporting achievements in the country.

His Royal Highness Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Deputy Sultan said this yesterday at the launching of the Convention and Expo, adding that physical activity is considered as one of the significant components towards a healthy life and at the same time in preventing chronic non-communicable diseases such as cancer, heart problems, diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity.

In the sabda, the Deputy Sultan said the Convention and Expo is intended as a step forward towards the development of potential and benefits of local sports through the shared experiences and knowledge of each stakeholder in related issues.

"We are all aware that sport is one of the direct contributors to a community's well-being and harmony. As such, His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam has constantly reminded us of the importance of embracing a healthy lifestyle. His Majesty in a titah in conjunction with his 66th birthday celebration stated: 'To be healthy, we must have a disciplined, healthy lifestyle and healthy diet. One of the healthy lifestyles is to exercise regularly'," said His Royal Highness.

The Deputy Sultan said that over the last few years, His Majesty's Government has allocated appropriate provisions to build additional leisure and sports facilities, particularly those being undertaken by the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports, Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Development.

"Aside from that, the government through the Ministry of Health has also provided National Physical Activity Guidelines for Brunei Darussalam which includes comprehensive suggestions about appropriate physical activities for various age groups including those suffering from chronic diseases. In this regard, I call on all residents in this country to make use of this National Guideline," said His Royal Highness.

The Deputy Sultan also said that he is of the view that nurturing healthy lifestyle and enthusiasm for sports should begin with an understanding amongst all segments of the general public on the importance of sports in their livelihood. This understanding, he said, must be enhanced in an inclusive manner.

"This includes the introduction of activities as well as the nurturing of interest in sports, particularly amongst children in their earliest school years as a healthy lifestyle and in order to introduce discipline at an early stage. Its achievement will assist indirectly in reducing the risk of obesity among children and youths who are the most productive and valuable assets of a country.

"The government through the Ministry of Education has therefore made significant investments in providing sports facilities and infrastructure in schools. This includes providing instructors specialised in the field of sports so as to inculcate sports as a co-curriculum activity that is able to enhance discipline and self-confidence in students," said His Royal Highness.

"Additionally, the continuous organisation of annual competitions in a variety of sports for the academic institutions in this country to enhance the quality of sports in a competitive environment and providing a direct opportunity to those with potential to represent the country at the regional and international levels. In general, in my opinion, the country's achievements in sports are still at a level that requires coordinated strategy and efforts from various agencies, especially, if we want sports to become a source of viable economic activities," added His Royal Highness.

A 'Steering Committee for the Construction of a New Stadium in Brunei Darussalam' was also formed with the consent of His Majesty in order to prepare our capacity to host regional and international sports tournaments. This is also in line with the nation's aspiration to become the host for the 2019 SEA Games.

"Towards this, I take note that the aim of this convention is also to formulate an integrated and competitive sports eco-system in order to produce prestigious sports athletes, so that participants can learn and emulate best practices and study as well as analyse the experiences of regional and international champions," said His Royal Highness.

"I was also made to understand that in line with the formation of the Asean Community by 2015, Asean governments have agreed in principle to reap its benefits by nurturing a plan to develop a 'Sports Industry in Asean'. In other words, the establishment of the Asean Community will open up commercial opportunities through sports that offer an open market for wider trans-border transactions. This will include advertising, athlete migration, licensing and sales, legal advice in the strengthening of intellectual property rights and sports tourism. The main opportunity in this initiative is in terms of the potential returns to the income of professional sports bodies and teams from broadcasting rights on television networks," His Royal Highness stated.

A number of other areas were also mentioned, where these areas - sports support services that include areas like sports medicine, marketing, courses, venue and event managements, as well as sports administration - will benefit directly through the growth in sports support services.

"This development is also in line with the development of human resources that is not only limited to sports education. This includes the development of capacity in terms of financial management, marketing, public relations and journalism related products. At the same time, the potential and involvement of cross border volunteerism in sports will also strengthen unity at the regional level," added the Deputy Sultan.

"I believe that with more systematic planning in sports, along with support, cooperation and commitment from all parties, the vision of a healthy lifestyle through sports, as well as joint efforts towards the development of a viable sports industry, will help build the foundations for economic diversification and bring us closer to achieving Wawasan Brunei 2035," said His Royal Highness.

His Royal Highness also reminded the speakers and participants from overseas to take the opportunity to experience Brunei's uniqueness and local traditions alongside enjoying the green surroundings, fresh air and tranquillity of this country. - Borneo Bulletin (7 November 2012)