PUTRAJAYA: There is a special twist in this year's National Sport Day (NSD).
Instead of having the Youth and Sports Ministry organising a big portion of the NSD activities, the onus is now on the people to run their own activities.
The ministry's deputy director-general (sports development) Mohd Azhari Mohammad said it had empowered the public to organise various sports activities without being forced to do so and they were encouraged to register their programmes at www.harisukannegara.my.
"So far, we have more than 2,000 activities that have registered with us and we believe the numbers are more if we take into account of the unregistered ones.
"This year is a bit special because we are injecting the value of volunteering to be active in sporting activities," he told reporters.
Also present were National Sport Day Secretariat head Mohsinar Abdul Malek, Malaysia Youth Council secretary-general Ahmad Saparudin Yusup, International Youth Centre director Dr Mohamed Maliki Mohamed Rapiee as well as Malaysian athletes S.L. Karishma (netball) and Abd Latif Romly (long jump)
Since most of this year's NSD activities were being done on a voluntarily basis, the ministry did not set any target of participation, said Azhari.
Instead, he encouraged the organisers who had registered their sports activities to do a head count and shared with the NSD secretariat so that the ministry could get a rough estimation on the number of participation and gauge the people's enthusiasm about sports.
"We also urge the public to share their activities, via pictures or videos, during the National Sport Day under four hashtags- #NegarakuBersukan, #JomTurunPadang, #GetYourGameOn and #HSN2017."
He said the people's excitement about sporting activities had been high since the inception of the NSD and even more so during the recent Kuala Lumpur SEA Games 2017 (KL2017) and Kuala Lumpur Asean Para Games (Para KL2017).
Azhari added the ministry hoped to see the same momentum for this year's NSD, scheduled to be held this Saturday, adding sports facilities managed by the ministry and its agencies at state level could be used for free on that day.
To continue riding on the excitement the public had towards KL2017 and Para KL2017, the ministry was reported to have asked the country's athletes to return to their respective states to ramp up the enthusiasm about sports among the public.
Azhari cited diving queen Pandelela Rinong headed home to Sarawak to be with the public for the sports activities organised at state-level.
He said at least 100 athletes of KL2017 and Para KL2017 had confirmed their attendance to be with the public on National Sport Day in their home states.
For Karishma, she looked forward to be with the public on National Sport Day. Based on her own observation, she said Malaysians in general were interested in sporting activities.
On Saturday, the NSD national-level event in Bukit Jalil will be launched by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and various programmes will be held including Fit Malaysia 10km/5km Run and Fit Malaysia 10km/30km Ride.
The NSD which is celebrated on the second Saturday of October every year is aimed at making Malaysia a ‘sporting nation’.
Mohsinar said people's interest to take part in numerous programmes organised under the NSD had been very encouraging.
For instance, she said sporting events listed under the Fit Malaysia programme had attracted easily 2,000 people to sign up within the first hour of registration.
"For now, we already have 10,000 confirmed participants for Fit Malaysia programme without them being coerced to do so," she said.
Among the highlights this Saturday including the participation of 16,000 school children under the 10,000-Step programme by the Education Ministry in Putrajaya and a half-marathon to be held at night in Kuala Lumpur where 10,000 people are expected to take part .
Members of the public can refer to www.harisukannegara.my for the activity list organised by various parties.