By Intan Maizura Ahmad Kamal (NST)
IT’S only mid-morning but the air is choked with heat. Bracing myself for yet another Sunday of being baked crisp, I cast my eyes towards the sweeping panorama of a vast field bathed in a shimmering sheen. Blurs of blue mingle with the vibrant green of the grass, darting here and there, while tiny white balls seem to whizz every which way. A smattering of makeshift canopies provides refuge from the unforgiving sun for clusters of people engrossed in the activities taking place on the turf.
SIGNING UP FOR SUCCESS
“Pheettttttttttttt,” the piercing sound of the whistle coming from the field reminds me that I have one more person left on my list to chat to before I take my leave. Thanking Sakamoto for his invaluable input, I clamber down from my perch to try and intercept Sazali Husain, coach of Putrajaya Tigress softball team, former national player, and as I’ve duly discovered, the man selected to steer the newly minted national women’s team, a task he’ll undertake with the help of his able team of fellow former national players and coaches.
“Abang Zali, a word please,” I holler to the sweat-drenched form departing from the field ahead of me. He stops. And a broad grin of recognition crosses his face. “How can I help you, Intan,” he says, wiping the sweat from his brows, before leading me to a plastic chair under one of the canopies to escape the midday sun.
So how are you going to get these softballers to commit to the baseball cause, I ask, intent on playing the devil’s advocate. Unperturbed by the question, Sazali calmly replies: “Simple. They just have to choose — pick one and drop the other. It’s only fair for Baseball Malaysia that if you decide to come on board, you give your full commitment. We want to compete and get results. We need talents but most importantly, commitment. If they’re still involved in softball, their commitment will be divided. Once they’ve chosen, we’ll write in to Softball Malaysia to ask them to exclude these players from their programmes.”