|Abdul Karim in a friendly match with Devon.|
KUCHING: Hosting sport events can contribute significantly not only to the development of sports. But it is also a great tool to stimulate and drive economic as well as social and community development.
Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah highlighted this in commending Sarawak Armsports Association (Sasa), the organiser of the 3rd Premier 101 International Charity Arm Wrestling Championship, for going beyond the norm by adding an extra element of carrying social responsibility to hosting the tournament.
“When Sasa told me about the tournament last month, I was excited because the organiser was not only interested to promote the sports via the tournament but also to carry out charitable works via the same platform,” he said at the opening of the Arm Wrestling Championship at Premier 101 on Friday night.
|Abdul Karim in a friendly match with Devon with Matthew (centre) as referee.|
“Maybe this is going to be a new ‘-ism’ or ‘me-too’ trend in sports management. Personally, I do hope it does because although promoting sports is very important, it is an undeniable fact that taking a good care of the society is also important,” he pointed out, thanking Sasa for showing the new way in the sports industry.
“I am really impressed by the organiser’s noble efforts to simultaneously promote the sports and carrying out charitable works. Thank you to all those involved for making this possible,” he added.
The championship this year saw the participation of more than 500 pullers from over 20 countries including India, China, Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand and Russia.
|Abdul Karim raises his Thor's hammer after winning his friendly match against Devon.|
Six charitable organisations including Sarawak Cancer Children Society (SCCS), Salvation Army Boys’ and Girls’ Home as well as Cheshire Home and one school SMK St Teresa received donations from Sasa.
While Sarawak has hosted a number of international-level sports events including the 21st Asia Masters Athletic Championship, the World Paralympic Swimming Championship and Sarawak International Open Tenpin Bowling Championship, Abdul Karim hopes to see sports tourism grow bigger in Sarawak.
“While we are pleased that we managed to bring these tournaments here, we still want to bring more,” he said.
|Representatives of charitable bodies pose with Abdul Karim (eighth left) after the cheque presentation ceremony.|
“Therefore, what Sasa did is actually in line with our efforts to spur the growth of the local sports tourism industry,” he added.
Recognising the potential and opportunities created by sports events, he emphasised that the ministry was trying hard to develop all kinds of sports that were of interest to the youth and society as a whole.
“It is our mission and aspiration to drive not only sports but also the state economy and the society forward,” he concluded.
|The youngest participant 12-year-old Acho Prince Kee (left) in action during the under 75kg amateur category.|
Organising chairman Stephen Kee Chu Kiong was proud to see the steady increase in the number of participants as it clearly indicated that the tournament was getting serious attention from the local as well as international pullers.
“When we first organised the tournament back in 2016, we had only 93 pullers and the following year, the number of participants increased to 240. And for this year, the total number of participants is 515,” he said.
“As the tournament organiser, we feel deeply honoured by the confidence shown by the pullers on our ability to organise the tournament,” he added.
While he looked forward to see more pullers to come from all over the world in future tournaments, Kee noted that this event would not be possible and successful without the strong support from the ministry.
“Many government departments and agencies are giving assistance to us as to make sure that this tournament would be a successful one. Therefore, we would like to say a very big thank you to the minister (Abdul Karim) as well as our sponsors for making this possible,” he said.
Meanwhile, world champion arm wrestler Devon ‘No Limits’ Larratt hailed arm wrestling as the greatest sport on the planet as it is the most accessible sport by people from all ages.
“It is a sport you can do in your time as a child to the time you are 80 years old with great success,” he said.
“So it is our responsibility to share this love with everybody we know to make event like this even better. Every year we want to do this. Next year I want to come back to wrestle here,” he added.
Devon was impressed not only with the warm Sarawakian hospitality but also the noble objectives behind hosting this sport event especially in binding or bridging the community with charity together.
“You guys are doing this right and for the right reason. To me, you are really building a sport,” he exclaimed.
Tasik Biru assemblyman Dato Henry Harry Jinep, permanent secretary to Ministry of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Hii Chang Kee as well as Sasa president Matthew Dominic Barin, its advisor Dato Sri Teng Chi Lik and the Federation of Chinese Associations for Kuching, Samarahan and Serian Divisions president Dato Richard Wee were among those present. -TheBorneoPost