Jeremy Chor is not your average Malaysian student. An avid footballer and all-round geek for anything related to the sport, he decided to pursue sports science abroad. He is currently studying for a Bsc Sport and Exercise Science at the University of Bath, UK and has recently landed an internship with Stoke City Football Club as an academy match analyst intern – an impressive feat by any standard.
I asked him a few questions about sports science as a career choice, and this is what he had to say.
Q: How great are the opportunities for sports scientists in Malaysia?
A: I think the opportunities for sport scientists, both in research and in practice, are improving and will continue to improve.
Elite sports are getting more competitive and without sports science, we risk getting left behind. The extent to which the field is being utilised by the governing bodies are unknown to me but what I do know is that there are institutions that participate in research. I suppose the whole idea of someone going into a sports-related career is still received in a lukewarm fashion given the cultural desire for other forms of success along other career paths, which might result in the lack of supply to demand in this field.
However, seeing how sports teams have been investing in foreign players, coaches and/or sports staff, especially Europeans, they can no doubt raise awareness of the importance of the field in improving performance. This should spark an interest in further probing the limits to which we can achieve athletic success.
Exposure of our local athletes to the international scene also serves to broaden their horizons, which helps out in the same way.
Q: Can sports science graduates study the subject and find work locally?
A: I remain sceptical about these possibilities, at least for the next 10 to 15 years or so. While scientific articles are being published in sport science by Malaysian researchers, they frankly don't seem to be asking the right questions or approaching it in the right way when compared to their foreign peers. We build on the work set by others, and so far haven't managed to create something original for others to develop or look into. This would probably be a barrier in setting up a renowned academic institution in sport science in Malaysia.
In relation to employment possibilities, they are definitely out there. Strength and conditioning practitioners ie personal trainers in your local gyms seem to be getting paid well as long as they keep their practice private. However, I am not aware of how governing bodies such as FAM see fit to reward their staff. The way I seem to see the picture is that the government would rather invest their money in other areas of nation-building other than sports. So employment in private sports companies would be far more rewarding than those in government bodies.