The United States Sports Academy honored His Excellency Tan Sri Muhyiddin Hj Mohd Yassin with a 2012 International Honorary Doctorate Thursday, Jan. 17 at its campus in Daphne, Ala.
“It is a great honor for me to be here today to receive an Honorary Doctorate from the Academy and will be a moment I shall cherish,” said Muhyiddin, who is both Malaysia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education. “Sports always has been a passion of mine. I am convinced that sports is able to play an important role in not just developing oneself, but having a multiplier effect on molding and unifying a nation.”
Muhyiddin’s visionary initiative to build vigorous sports programs for Malaysian children has led to the Academy developing a diploma program for the Southeast Asian country that is arguably one of the largest remedial programs in physical education and sports coaching ever undertaken.
Muhyiddin directed the implementation of “One Student – One Sport” in Malaysia’s schools three years ago to improve physical education and scholastic sports for the nation’s children. He said he saw a need to provide more physical education and sports training to tens of thousands of the nation’s physical education teachers and coaches, who oversee the students’ development in sports.
This led to the Malaysia Ministry of Education (MOE), which Muhyiddin heads, approving the Academy’s latest sports education program for Malaysia—the International Diploma in Physical Education and Scholastic Sports (IDPESS). The Academy’s work with Malaysia began nearly six decades ago, and during the school’s history, it has delivered sport and physical education programs in more than 65 countries to more than a quarter million people. The institution, known as “America’s Sports University,” is the largest graduate school of sport education in the world.
Academy President and CEO Dr. Thomas P. Rosandich recalled during the presentation that his ties to Malaysia date back to 1957 when he coached the first of his many national track and field teams there. Dr. Rosandich said that he recommended to Malaysia’s first Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman, the father of the country, to establish a sophisticated interscholastic sport program.
He noted that more than 50 years later, Muhyiddin moved to create an interscholastic sport program and now, incidentally, Great Britain is following suit. Dr. Rosandich applauded Muhyiddin for all of his sports achievements in Malaysia, including his running of one of the best Commonwealth Games in 1998 in Kuala Lumpur. The event is the second largest international sports competition, following the Olympics.
“After all these years, His Excellency is developing an interscholastic sports program so the youth of Malaysia can reach a new level in sports,” Dr. Rosandich said. “There is no question that success will follow for Malaysia in international fields of competition. This Honorary Doctorate recognizes the Deputy Prime Minister’s lifelong contributions to sport and to the people of his country. This honor is very much earned and well deserved.”
The “One Student – One Sport” initiative is one of Muhyiddin’s major efforts since 2009. This endeavor, which offers more structured and organized physical education classes and sports programs, is seen by Muhyiddin and the nation’s leaders as critical for the health, fitness and learning benefits it provides youth. It also is important to the development of a national system that allows youth to advance in sports, with the best eventually competing in the Olympics or in professional sports.
The Academy recently completed training the first 1,000 Malaysian educators from June to December and plans call for tens of thousands more to eventually go through IDPESS over the next several years. The Academy’s 10-course diploma program is approved by the Malaysian Qualifications Authority (MQA), a national accrediting body.
This continuing education effort is but one part of Muhyiddin’s strategy to enhance Malaysia’s physical education programs as he and his team continue to look for ways to develop its next generation of elite athletes. The country of nearly 29 million people has had athletes win a total of six Olympic medals, which have come in badminton and diving. Other popular sports include soccer, field hockey, rugby, gymnastics, martial arts and cycling.
Muhyddin said he hoped the Academy would help the country improve its sports performance in future Olympic Games.
“The gold still remains elusive,” he said. “Maybe this is something that the U.S. Sports Academy could help us out in before we grace Rio de Janeiro in 2016?”
Muhyiddin also visited Daphne High School during his stay in Alabama to learn more about its Digital Renaissance, International Baccalaureate and sports programs.
“I am very impressed with the school itself,” he said. “Technology is something we believe is very important for students in our country, too.”
Muhyiddin has served in a number of government roles since earning his bachelor’s degree with honors in Economics and Malay Studies in 1971 at the University of Malaya, one of the country’s renowned schools. He first became a member of the Parliament of Malaysia in 1978. Some of his recent posts include Minister of Youth and Sports (1995-1999), Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs (1999-2004), and Minister of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry (2004-2008).
Muhyiddin is the third Malaysian to earn an International Honorary Doctorate from the Academy. In 2008, the sports university honored His Royal Highness Tunku Imran, the Malaysian Prince and President of the Olympic Council of Malaysia who has been active in the international sport community and Olympic Movement for more than three decades. In 1990, the Academy bestowed an International Honorary Doctorate on YAB Dato Sri Mohammad Najib Abdul Razak, Malaysia’s current Prime Minister and former Minister of Sport.
The Academy’s work in Malaysia began when it became an independent nation in 1957 and the Academy’s Dr. Rosandich coached the first of his many national track and field teams there. He led a combined team of athletes from Malaysia, Singapore and North Borneo to the Asian Games in 1958.
The Academy’s first sports education programs in Malaysia began in 1981. Over the years, the institution has taught its International Certification in Sports Management (ICSM) and Sports Coaching (ICSC) programs in the country. Today, Malaysia remains one of the few predominantly Muslim nations that maintains close ties to the United States.
The Academy’s programs are designed to help individuals develop a strong foundation of skills and knowledge required to succeed in coaching, physical education, management, fitness and other sport-related disciplines. Known as “America’s Sports University,” the Academy today has grown into the largest graduate schools of sport education in the world and offers regionally accredited programs at the bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral levels.
The United States Sports Academy is an independent, nonprofit, accredited, special mission sports university created to serve the nation and the world with programs in instruction, research and service. The role of the Academy is to prepare men and women for careers in the profession of sports. For more information about the Academy, call 251-626-3303 or visit www.ussa.edu.