The Sarawak Games or SUKSAR for short, is making a comeback after a 27-year lapse. With a total of 18 events to be contended in, SUKSAR 2017 will be a grand sporting event set to be held in the Kuching City, Samarahan and Santubong area from Dec 14 to 17, 2017. A mini SUKMA, if you will. The three-day meet, which will involve 14 sports and four additional Paralympic events, is aimed at turning Sarawak into a sports powerhouse within the next few years, as SUKSAR concentrates on unearthing new talents and providing them a platform for exposure.
Popular events like swimming and track-and-field will be contested. SUKSAR will even feature less prominent ones like handball, rugby, weightlifting, lawn bowl, pétanque, archery and karate. However, more developed sports like tennis, wushu, tenpin bowling or Taekwondo will not be included.
Sarawak Sports Corporation (SSC), who uses SUKSAR to transform its sporting outlook, has excluded more popular team sports like football and basketball in favour of less exposed sports due to their low profile.
But sports fan can expect crowd-pullers like athletics, swimming, cycling and the popular new sport Muay Thai, which will be simply called Muay to give it a local feel.Aimed at developing new talents, SUKSAR will not include stars like Pandelela Rinong, Grace Wong Xiu Mei or Welson Sim but will instead unveil fresh faces, who are future stars in the making.
We might also see the rise of a new star sprinter - the next Watson Nyambek, Nixson Kennedy or Jonathan Nyepa if you will.
Also watch out for new talents in cycling, sepak takraw (women) and karate - sports that SSC is working to transform.
“Normally, to organise a sporting event of such scale, the costs are very high as our State is so wide. Travelling expenses can be very high.
“There is a goldmine to be tapped into in these other sports. If we give exposure to the athletes involved, we may be able to improve our medal haul from these sports, most of which have gone neglected,” said a representative of the organiser of SUKSAR.
Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah in a recent press conference said besides unearthing young talents, SUKSAR can generate the tourism and spinoff effects.
Such major competitions which his Ministry is also involve in are encouraging the State to organise more international competitions. This helps to boost sports tourism where hotels, eating places like restaurants, transport companies can benefit.
With only four teams competing as the competitions is divided into four zones, the organiser thinks it is better for them to start small and from there they will assess the Games and will further improve its effectiveness in organising future SUKSAR.
Like any Games, they normally start small but as the game went along, they get bigger and more popular.
The first Sarawak Games called SUKSA was the prelude to the organising of the first Sarawak SUKMA hosted by Sarawak in 1990 with all the sports contested. It was successfully held in Kuching and the following SUKMA Games organised by Sarawak was a huge success in terms of organisation and success on the field.
Former stars who shone in the 1990 SUKMA like Tania Bugo, Jong Su Ting in swimming, Linda Chin in athletics, Ibrahim Mantali in football, Liew Meang in tennis had all taken part in the SUKSA Games which were held as “selection trial” for the SUKMA Games.
This time, SUKSAR will be divided into four zones namely Northen Zone (Limbang, Miri, Bintulu), Central Zone ( Kapit, Sibu, Mukah), Western Zone (Sarikei, Betong, Sri Aman) and Southern Zone (Serian, Samarahan, Kuching).SUKSAR also includes four sports for the less-bodied athletes or Paralympians - athletics, swimming, power-lifting and archery.
The organiser decided for the purpose of cutting down costs, they did not include team sports except rugby as the sport need to be given a shot in the arm. For logistic reasons too, the venues are mostly held in Kuching with some sports like archery held in Samarahan and petanque will be following the format of being held in Santubong where there is a facility being built there.
SUKSAR may be without the elaborate opening and closing ceremonies of SUKMA 2016 held in Sarawak, but the main spirit of the Games is exposure and getting readiness for the main battle ahead in the SUKMA 2018 in Ipoh, Perak where Sarawak aim to do better this time by retaining the SUKMA overall champion title.