17th August, 2012
KOTA KINABALU: Hosting the HSBC Asian Rugby Sevens Series here in the Land Below the Wind is good for the nation, Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Peter Pang En Yin, insisted yesterday.
He said the State is proud and honoured that the Sabah Rugby Union has been able to convince the Asian Rugby Football Union (ARFU) to grant us the honour of making Sabah a prestigious stop in the Asian rugby calendar.
“It is good for Malaysia, particularly Sabah,” Pang said, when officiating at the Media Launch of the HSBC Asian Sevens Series 2012 Borneo Sevens, to be held at the Likas Stadium on August 31 to September 2.
SRU President-cum-Borneo Sevens organising chairman, Velayuthan Tan, Deputy Permanent Secretary, Penyuki Matta, Sabah Sports Board Deputy General Manager, Terrence Pudin, SRU Vice President, KH Tan and HSBC Bank Malaysia Berhad East Malaysia Area Director, Ong Eng Mun were also present at the function.
Pang said he was especially glad to learn that SRU has even added a junior category to the Borneo Sevens.
“This is certainly a wonderful way of encouraging our local schoolchildren to take up the game. With more of them playing, we can expand our talent pool and in time we will have a huge reservoir of young talent to power Sabah rugby towards a greater future,” said Pang.
At the moment, Pang said although rugby in Malaysia is on the upswing, as compared to a few years ago, but we are still a long way to go before we can seriously contend in any World Sevens series tournaments.
“However, I believe that exposing our players to more tournaments such as the Borneo Sevens is one way of uplifting ourselves closer to international standard. No doubt, it will take time, but as long as we are serious and determined about it, I’m confident we can make it,” said Pang.
Meanwhile, Vela said that they have made a positive decision to introduce the Borneo Junior Sevens as the SRU’s Centre for Rugby Excellence reaches its fifth anniversary this year.
“This international platform will give our juniors the exposure and opportunity to compete amongst their peers that would eventually help them gain experience and confidence to develop their talent,” said Vela.
Vela said among the reasons why they decided to hold and organise the Borneo Sevens is mainly because they want to see the standard of Malaysian rugby, and Sabah in particular move into the realms of the Asian and international arena.
“A rugby tournament with top Asian and international teams and players involved can give us an indication as to where we stand. From this we can more easily gauge the actual standard of our local players against the Asian or international benchmark.
“That should help us chart a more effective way to move up the ladder of Asian and international rugby.
Vela also thanked both the Federal and the State Government for the support they have given to the association.
“Organising an event as big as this requires the backing and support of the Federal and the Local Government and their agencies. We must not also forget the various national and state councils, associations and statutory bodies. We are grateful and thankful for all the cooperation and assistance they have extended to us,” said Vela, before concluding his speech by calling on all to band together to bring greater sports glory and recognition to Malaysia through rugby.