Harjit – volunteer extraordinaire

Johor Cricket Sports Council president Dr Harjit Singh, police officer Balwant Singh and Olympic high jumper Nauraj Singh Randhawa is mentioned in this article in The Malay Mail.

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| Opinion | 16 Sept 2016 | Asia Samachar |
Dr Harjit Singh featured in the Malaysian newspaper The Malay Mail
Dr Harjit Singh featured in the Malaysian newspaper The Malay Mail

WHEN voluntarism is in its death throes in sport, we are fortunate people like Datuk Dr Harjit Singh and police officer Balwant Singh are around to keep it alive with their passion for sport.

The extraordinary duo, through Johor Sikh Sports Club (JSSC) and Royal Malaysia Police Sikh Sports Association, Johor branch (RMPSSA), jointly organised Johor Sikh Sports Fellowship Night a week ago at Millisime Hotel in Iskandar Puteri.

The dinner was held to honour Johor-born Olympic high jumper Nauraj Singh Randhawa, who had qualified on merit for the Rio Olympics by clearing 2.29m at the Singapore Open in April.

What was meaningful about the dinner was that it was self-funded. Supporters bought tables and a raffles was held to collect funds for the development of sports through JSSC.

Harjit  has been JSSC president for two decades.

Harjit’s name is synonymous with sports in Johor, especially cricket where he is the president of Johor Cricket Sports Council. His passion for sports sparkles his love of cricket, something he inherited from his father Meva Singh, an ex-Selangor and Kilat Club cricketer.

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A former student of English College Johor Baru (now known as Maktab Sultan Abu Bakar), the good doctor learnt to score at the age of five, earned his personal bat at six, and came under the watchful eye of the late and renowned Mike Shepherdson at the Kilat Club nets in Pantai.

Harjit is a firm believer in grassroots development and in schools being the foundation of sports.

“Today, the lack of sporting facilities and the neglect of school sports is the bane of Malaysian sport,” said Harjit, in his speech at the dinner.

“People like Nauraj surfaced through the dedication of his parents and some private support. Imagine if he was discovered much earlier and nurtured, he would be miles ahead in his performance.

“It is sad support and recognition only come when one achieves something, when these athletes should have been guided the moment their talent was identified,” lamented Harjit.

High jumper Nauraj Singh Randhawa becomes second Sikh to win a gold medal at SEA Games in Singapore.
High jumper Nauraj Singh Randhawa becomes second Sikh to win a gold medal at SEA Games in Singapore.

That Harjit and DSP Balwant decided to join forces, not only to laud Nauraj, but to raise funds for the development of football, hockey and cricket in Johor, speaks volumes of their spiritedness.

That there were people who rallied in support of this cause was indeed commendable. About 250 people graced the occasion.

Nauraj was presented with a memento by Balwant, the RMPSSA vice president, and he received a personal donation of RM1,000 from Harjit.

The surprise of the evening was when two supporters of Nauraj, Joanne Joseph and husband Shashi Raman, donated toward his training expenses.

“My late father was a teacher in English College and he would have been elated a student of his college (Nauraj) qualified for the Olympics,” said Joanne.

“In memory of him, I want to make this contribution to assist Nauraj in a small way to bring more honours to the nation,” added Joanne, when making the cash presentation to Nauraj who was accompanied by parents Amarjit Singh and Manjit Kaur.

Regardless of the size of the contribution, it was a big-hearted gesture from Joanne and Shashi and showed Malaysian sports fans can be counted on to assist.

From the dinner, Harjit and Balwant and their committees raised RM15,000.

Their associations do not depend on handouts or sponsorships; they raise funds on their own, backed by a sports loving community.

Harjit was also the man responsible for Amarjit going to Rio to watch his son at the Maracanã Stadium.

It was Malay Malay’s Editor Emeritus Frankie D’Cruz who, when he heard Amarjit — largely responsible for the rise of Nauraj — was hoping to watch his son in Rio, suggested to Harjit the idea of raising funds to make the trip possible.

Harjit sprang into action, raising RM5,000 in less than an hour just by making calls to friends.

The idea was then taken up by Johor Sikhs Golf Association whose president Datuk Manjit Majid Abdullah organised a competition that raised RM10,000. This amount was matched by Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah of Pahang while Harjit raised another RM3,500.

Harjit, deputy president of Malaysian Cricket Association (MCA) from 1990 to 2003 and chairman of development, has had the the suport of wife Datin Kaldip in all his efforts on behalf of sport and charity.

ROYAL PRESENCE: Dr Harjit Singh (left) presents the wedded couple, Gurdip Singh Gandhara and Dr Harveen Kaur Pasricha, to the Sultan of Johor and his family members.
ROYAL PRESENCE: Dr Harjit Singh (left) presents the wedded couple, Gurdip Singh Gandhara and Dr Harveen Kaur Pasricha, to the Sultan of Johor and his family members.

Kaldip is the quiet and industrious behind-the-scenes worker, humble and down to earth like her husband.

Harjit’s passion for cricket has seen him bring the game to schools in Felda schemes and kampungs in Johor.

A milestone in Harjit’s career as the Johnny Appleseed of cricket was getting the Johor government to allot 5.6ha (14 acres) for the building of the first cricket academy in Southeast Asia.

The allocation was made during the tenure of Menteri Besar Tan Sri Ghani Othman. The academy offers first class cricket facilities and is a regional centre for the sport.

Johor Cricket Academy has an indoor hall and changing rooms, courtesy of the state government and the Youth and Sports Ministry.

These facilities enabled the state to host the International Cricket Conference Under-19 World Cup in 2008.

Indeed, if there are people like Harjit Singh in every sport, the sky is the limit in Malaysian sport.

Selamat Hari Malaysia.

 


TONY is a sports journalist with more than three decades of experience and is passionate about local sports. 
He can be reached at 
tmariadass@gmail.com. This article first appeared in The Malay Mail, 16 Sept 2016

[ASIA SAMACHAR is an online newspaper for Sikhs in Southeast Asia and surrounding countries. We have a Facebook page, do give it a LIKE! Visit our website: www.asiasamachar.com]

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