Service to Society: Malaysian Olympians promote sport in the community

11 | 5 | 2018

Bringing sport and hope to the lives of disadvantaged children in Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur has been the mission of the Malaysian Olympians Association (MOA), recipient of a 2017 WOA Service to Society grant.

Working with the Lighthouse Children’s Home, home to 40 children aged 3 to 18, Olympians have successfully facilitated a host of sport and education activities for the children who live there, since they launched their Service to Society project in partnership with the local Kelab PJ sports club last year.

MOA President, Karu Selvaratnam OLY, said: “This is a special initiative, and one that will really help to change the lives of these children for the better. To watch them flourish through sport and through interaction with Olympians, when they have gone through so much hardship in their lives, is heart warming.

“I was fortunate enough to appear at the 1964 Olympic Games and represent Malaysia as captain of our national cricket team. Both experiences had a big impact on my life. I am now thankful that, through the work of the MOA and with the assistance of the Service to Society grant, we, as Olympians, are able to give back and offer inspiration to the children to strive for a better life through sport.”

MOA Vice President, Jeffrey Ong OLY, added: “It was amazing spending time talking with the kids, getting to know them better, as well as encouraging and motivating them to participate and hopefully excel in sports. It felt very meaningful - to see the joy and happiness on the children's faces is something we'll never forget.”

The Lighthouse Children’s Home, which has been serving children in the community since it opened its doors in 2005, was evicted from its previous premises in 2016 as a result of rising costs and was in dire need of support. Since relocating, thanks to the MOA, Kelab PJ club and the actions of Olympians, they have been able to continue to offer access to sport, education and other activities associated with health and well being.

The Service to Society grant has been used to fund a tennis programme, supervised by double Olympian Wong Choon-Hin OLY, who competed for Malaysia in hockey at the 1972 and 1976 Games. Money has also been allocated to an education fund to pay for in-house tuition fees for the children, as well as the purchase of books and stationery. While a health and medical camp was organised by three-time Olympian Manikavasagam Jegathesan OLY, a well-known athlete from the Rome 1960, Tokyo 1964 and Mexico City 1968 Games, who has gone on to become a highly-revered doctor, including as Chair of the Olympic Council of Asia’s medical committee and Vice-President of the Olympic Council of Malaysia.

The project was officially inaugurated on 17 March with a special presentation of a funding cheque for the Lighthouse Education and Tennis programme.

Service to Society

The Service to Society Grant programme was launched by WOA in 2016 to help fund Olympian-led, sustainable community projects that align with the promotion of the Olympic values. 

Six recipients have been awarded 2018 grants in the second round of funding this year. The successful projects from Palau, Japan, Moldova, Cape Verde, Chile and the United States of America will see Olympians across the world work to better society through sport.