Fitness, gamesmanship, discipline and motivation – these are what a kid needs to succeed in any sport. For parents, having a kid competing in sports is a great source of pride. However, it also requires serious commitment (time, finances, nerves of steel) and the acknowledgment that the chances of reaching world standard is a long, difficult journey and only a few succeed. So, succeeding at a school, club or state level can sometimes be good enough!
There are many football training centres around but if you want to take it seriously, your kid will have to join a club which trains to take part in tournaments. Kuala Lumpur Youth Soccer (KLYS) is a high-performance football academy for kids aged six to 19 and is known for participating at the annual Gothia Cup in Sweden (World Youth Cup), one of the most competitive youth tournaments on the football sporting calendar. And, yes there’s a girls team too that regularly compete.
Having world-class players regularly winning major international competitions including Olympic medals makes badminton a top choice for kids to take up competitively. Cue Sports Arena Sentosa not far from Taman OUG; the centre offers badminton training for both beginner and competitive levels with ex-national players Ismail Saman training singles players and Yap Kim Hock (1996 Atlanta Olympics) on doubles duty. There’s also a talent programme available, which takes the best and most dedicated players to the next level while offering help with their education academically.
Founded by the Mark and Marilyn Chua siblings – who between them have swam for Malaysia in local, regional and international competitions (Marilyn swam 50m freestyle at the 2000 Sydney Olympics) – this club aims to provide kids with the opportunity to be the best swimmer they can be, recreationally or competitively. The club also offers synchronised swimming, diving and swim lessons for children with special needs and adults.
Run by the affable Master AVS Bathi (8th dan in taekwondo, Tang Soo Do and kickboxing), this centre produces world champions in taekwondo and kickboxing. Master Bathi spots kids with potential from a young age and trains them rigorously for competition, culminating in the World Championships held at different international locations annually. Xtreme kids usually train for years under him; he has produced six world champions so far.
It’s a little known fact that rugby is actually a very popular sport in Malaysia, with a long tradition of being played in boarding schools and certain local institutions. If your kid’s school doesn’t have rugby on the curriculum, the best way to get into the sport is to join a club. This partner club to the Leicester Tigers, an English rugby union club that plays in the English Premiership, has grown in size and popularity over the two years it’s been in operation. Players train regularly and perhaps most importantly learn how to play as a team and gamesmanship.