Thinking Allowed

by Mariam Mokhtar

Perak needs more women in public life, and it is encouraging to see more women taking an active role in the development of the physical and mental health of our youth.

One such woman is 33-year old Farhawahidah Ahmad Puad, from Kuala Kangsar, Perak. Married with three young children, Farha as she is affectionately called, is a Bachelor of Sports Science graduate from Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) in Shah Alam. She is currently pursuing her Masters in Education (Sports Science) at the Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris (UPSI).

Farha’s early schooling was at the SRK Datin Khadijah, in Kuala Kangsar, then she boarded at the Raja Perempuan School in Ipoh. She lists her hobbies as housework, she hates an untidy house, and when her chores are done, she likes walking and cycling. Her other passion is to travel and explore foreign countries.

Farha is now a Youth and Sports Officer attached to the Tun Hussein Onn University (UTHM) in Batu Pahat, Johore. She is responsible for the sporting facilities in the university and she manages sporting activities for the university students, both at national and international level.

When asked why she chose her particular line of work, she said, “I like to work with young people of different ages. I find the constructive ideas of each age-group most beneficial. I focus more on the youth as they will inherit the country and one day be in charge. A healthy body must also be physically and mentally fit.”

She believes that despite the numerous sporting activities organised by the government and the private sector, such as marathons or tai chi sessions, many Malaysians choose a sedentary lifestyle, because they do not have the right attitude.

She said, “Most of the sports facilities are in poor condition because no one feels a sense of responsibility. Today, we find a lot of private gymnasiums and classes for swimming or aerobics, but the various programmes are costly. The expense tends to prevent people following a healthy lifestyle in Malaysia.”

When asked about the skills needed for her job, she said, “Proper planning is critical and experienced people to manage it, will make the event a success. Networking with people and society helps to influence how the event turns out.”

Her workload is variable and she often travels around the country for the events she has organised. She said, “My work involves both managing sporting activities and sports facilities. Both the students and university staff take part in the sporting activities we organise. They have participated in our rugby tournaments, football competitions, inter-departmental carnivals and courses dealing with health issues.”

She manages the university’s sporting facilities and explained that the facilities are open to the public, at a small cost.

One major sporting event that she is looking forward to in 2014 is the ‘International Pencak Silat Championship for the Deputy Prime Minister’s Cup 5th Edition, 2014’ (Kejohanan Pencak Silat Antarabangsa Piala Timbalan Perdana Menteri Edisi 5, 2014).

Her university, UTHM was appointed the ‘Pusat Sukan Tumpuan Pencak Silat IPT Malaysia’ or the exhibition centre for silat. She said, “This means we have to manage all the tournaments, the courses, the identification of the talented athletes and arrange the referees, to increase the development of silat and help produce future Malaysian athletes.”

According to Farha, the silat competition will be divided into three categories, for local institutions, international institutions and teenagers. She said, “We hope to spot new talent as well as study the various techniques and styles. We aim to elevate the profile of silat, which is a Malay form of martial art.”

The success of her efforts to promote silat is reflected in the support she has received and the increasing numbers of silat groups which enter the competition.

Farha believes that she and her team have elevated the promotion of silat, as a sport, in Malaysia. She finds it remarkable that the tournaments she organised, have been useful platforms for the selection of athletes to represent the nation. The championships have also gained the support of the National Silat Federation or Persekutuan Silat Kebangsaan (PESAKA) which is responsible for organising silat events in Malaysia.

Despite her heavy workload, and periods of being away from her family, she said, “I am very determined and I never give up. I find every challenge a spur to make me want to succeed. I never crack under pressure.”