Sepak Takraw: Out of Perses, but loyal Abdul Halim considers Olympic place for sport
SINGAPORE – Over the past four decades, Abdul Halim Kader has become almost synonymous with the sport of sepak takraw in Singapore.
However, over the past four months, the 69-year-old has had to deal with the unfamiliarity with not taking a leadership role in the national sport body, Persians, for the first time since. that he was appointed secretary general in 1982.
He remained in office until 1999 before being elected president of the association from 2000, a role he held for nearly 20 years, with the exception of a passage from 2013 to 2015 where he again held the post of Secretary General.
But last November, Halim was ousted as president after federation affiliates voted 12-9 in favor of his deputy, Nasri Haron.
When the Straits Times visited him at his Bedok Reservoir Road office, Halim appeared relaxed and insisted he was comfortable with his surprise outing.
“In an election you can have ups and downs,” he said. “The way I see it, it’s not like a rival or a foreigner came in and stole (the presidency) … Nasri is someone I brought to Persians (in 2013), so I wish him good luck. We should look ahead now. “
Halim’s reign as president of Persians saw a decline in Singapore’s performance regionally and internationally.
In 10 editions of the biennial SEA Games from 2001 to 2019, sepak takraw obtained only three medals, winning a total of one silver medal and nine bronze medals. The sport failed to win a ticket twice, in 2009 and 2017.
Nasri, 60, a state attorney in the attorney general’s chamber, noted Halim’s long involvement in the sport, but added: “Affiliates felt that Persians had to move forward without him … My only goal is to move the local sepak forward. “
Although he may be out of the Singaporean scene, Halim still occupies key roles in the sport at the international level. He is President of the Asian Federation Sepak Takraw (Astaf) and Secretary General of the International Federation Istaf.
He has ambitious plans for the sport and his eyes lit up when he discussed integrating sepak takraw into the Olympic program by 2032, a goal ridiculed by some as a leap too far.
But Halim was not deterred.
Sitting in his office with portraits of players from Japan, Hong Kong and South Korea on his wall, he said, “Takraw is no longer just a kampong (village) game. It is now global.”
He has been pushing for the Olympic inclusion of Sepak Takraw since the mid-1990s. Istaf even changed the sport’s name to “acrovolley” for a time, in hopes of grafting onto volleyball and being included as a medal event at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, but the effort was unsuccessful.
But Halim hopes his current efforts will be successful, as he highlighted the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) announcement last July that he had made deals with Istaf and five other international sports bodies to collaborate on content. with the Olympic channel. This provides a platform for the promotion of sports and athletes within the Olympic movement.
However, this is by no means a green light for a future place at the Olympics – after all, the Olympic Charter says that to be accepted a sport must be widely practiced by men in at least 75 countries and on four continents. , and by women in no less than 40 countries and on three continents.
Istaf currently has 50 member countries, 13 of which are still in provisional status.
But, still optimistic, Halim said fervently: “We started our dialogue with the IOC three years ago and this is the first clear recognition we have from them.”
Even as he prepares to celebrate the birth of his 10th grandchild next week, it’s clear that the veteran athletic administrator hasn’t lost any of the zeal or energy that earned him the Medal of the Civil Service (PBM) in 1987 and the Civil Service Star (BBM) in 1997 for his contributions to the community.
He said: “I want to find the right path for sepak takraw to be included in the Olympics … Whoever is running Istaf at this time is not important to me.”