SPEECH BY CHIEF MINISTER OF PENANG
AT PBA 17th PENANG (MALAYSIAN) JUNIOR SQUASH CHAMPIONSHIP 2019 WELCOMING DINNER
First of all, I would like to extend a very warm welcome to all the players and officials who have come from near and far to participate in the 17th PBA Penang (Malaysia) Junior Squash Championships this year. I am truly impressed that the competition has attracted close to 700 participants from 18 countries and also from other Malaysian states this year. I have also been informed that the number of participating nations as well as players have been steadily increasing throughout the years.
Penang, the home of our legendary Dato' Nicol David has always been a popular destination for squash and back in 2001, Penang played host to the World Junior Squash Championships. It was then that history was made when Nicol emerged victorious and was crowned World Junior Champion for the second consecutive time, the first player to ever defend a world junior title. Penang has continued to be active and has hosted numerous other local, regional, professional and international tournaments.
I am glad and honored that we not only have star quality players that have kept our Malaysian Flag flying high globally for the past 20 years but also a team of passionate players turned coaches and technical officials capable of organizing events of all standards. It was also made known to me that Penang is a familiar and popular destination due to the warm hospitality and great food available here.
The history of this competition has suggested that many Malaysian junior squash players have benefitted from this event. S. Sivasangari, Ng Eain Yow, Aifa Azman, Aira Azman, Ameeshan Raj, M. Nickhileswar and Chan Yi Wen are the few to have competed here and gone on to win bigger and more prestigious events. The likes of Anrie Goh, Wong Lee Hong and Aira Azman have just won the Asian Junior Individual Championships in Macau last month and are here now to compete in this event.
Over the last weekend, Sivasangari has won the Australian Open, while Syafiq secured the 2nd position after defeating a top seeded player from France. We have a big pool of young talented players who are in need of a competitive platform with high standards for exposure. In fact, it is hardly surprising that we are now anxiously looking for the successor to Dato' Nicol David.
Last year, Penang hosted the Asia Pacific Masters Games 2018 that attracted approximately 5,600 participants from different parts of the world and based on the official survey done by Penang Institute, an estimated of RM17 million was spent by the participants and officials during the games. The APMG was a great platform for us to promote sports tourism whilst promoting a healthy lifestyle and culture for our local Penangites. Local sports associations were provided the opportunity to gain experience and enhance their technical skills in organizing and handling sports competitions of international standards. T
his provided the much-needed impetus to spur local organizations to host more high-level competitions in future. Hosting and organizing such events and competitions is also an option for associations to generate some revenue to fund their ongoing activities. Of the 22 sports in APMG, only one was declared not to have generated any monetary gain.
The running of this event has also brought many other benefits not just for squash but also a very fruitful result to Penang especially in terms of tourism. Capitalizing on the reality that this event is almost a week-long affair and most participants are from outside Penang, the state will inherently benefit favorably from an economic point of view. I therefore urge all of you here to immerse yourselves in the local culture and famous Penang cuisines and to visit the many places of interests that characterize the unique identity of Penang, UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site.
I would like to thank PBAPP for your continued support for squash throughout the past decade and looking at the growth of this competition, it is evident that PBA's ongoing partnership with SRAP has resulted in nothing but success. PBA has been the proud title sponsor for this Penang International Junior Squash Championships since 2008. PBA has also been the sponsor for several big events like the Asian Squash Championships in 2011 and the Women's World Squash Championship in 2014.
I would like to seek more corporations to emulate PBA and provide support to well organized sport organizations to promote and develop sports locally. Let the young develop a healthy and competitive lifestyle, the chance to meet up with friends from all over the world and to share their different cultures while making their dreams come true, to be a world class star athlete!!!
Lastly, I would like to thank and congratulate the organizing committee and all who have contributed to make this event a success.
I wish the best to all players in your games throughout the competition and have a wonderful and memorable stay in Penang.