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HULU SELANGOR: The Ministry of Youth and Sports is committed to ensuring that Orang Asli and rural children are not overlooked when it comes to providing them with opportunities and access to engage in sports.

Minister, Hannah Yeoh, stated that the Ministry has been collaborating with the Department of Orang Asli Development (JAKOA) since last year to ensure that the concept of Sports For All reaches the low-income group (B40).

She mentioned that as an example, the Ministry has established the Basic Sports Skills Training swimming programme aimed at reducing drowning by teaching children in the B40 group basic swimming techniques.

“Talent development efforts need to be expanded, and not be limited to urban areas only.

“Who knows, the most skilled football player may come from here one day because today the children are allowed to play football. We must follow up to ensure that the National Youth and Sports Department will continue to conduct football clinics,“ she said.

She was addressing reporters at the Community Football Clinic with the Orang Asli in Kuala Kubu Bharu at Kampung Orang Asli Pertak here today.

Hannah also emphasised the importance of intensifying efforts to uncover new talents among Orang Asli and rural children, rather than resorting to shortcuts like naturalising foreign athletes as citizens.

She said this approach aligns with the highest-level committee’s goals involving the cooperation between the Ministry of Youth and Sports, the Ministry of Higher Education, and the Ministry of Education.

“It means that when there are MSSD (District School Sports Council) or MSSM (Malaysian School Sports Council) sports meets, we need to ensure that participation includes Chinese schools, Tamil schools, religious schools, and tahfiz schools.

“There are many talents in tahfiz schools. I hope that in five to ten years, these efforts will bear results,“ she said.

Earlier, Hannah spent time with about 70 children participating in the football clinic, before presenting a football to each participant to encourage them to engage in the sport.

“This is a collaborative effort with the NFDP (National Football Development Programme), where we have been going to rural areas since last year. Children and youth there need sports equipment to encourage them to exercise.

“So far, we have visited six states, held 16 football clinics like this, and distributed a total of 3,427 footballs. We will continue to do so,“ she said.