Malaysian volleyball coach sparks backlash for slapping female students

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A Malaysian volleyball coach who was caught on camera slapping his students during a match has received a wave of backlash in the country.

The Melaka team coach was filmed slapping two female student athletes during the 2022 Malaysia Youth Under 14 Volleyball Championship, reportedly held on Dec. 16, 2022 in Johor. The students, both aged 14, were reportedly slapped after costing the team a point during their match.

The match was streamed live on Facebook, and the incident quickly went viral and caught the attention of news outlets and social media users.

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The video also prompted a response from Malaysian politician and current Minister of Youth and Sports Hannah Yeoh Tseow Suan.

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“This is wrong,” the minister simply stated.

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In a follow-up tweet, Yeoh emphasized that the incident was not a matter of gender, but physical violence.

“Slapping anyone is wrong,” she wrote. “Malaysians must stop normalising physical abuse as means for behavioral compliance – wrong on kids, athletes, spouse or maid!”

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In response to the backlash, the Malaysian Volleyball Association announced on Jan. 1 its suspension of the coach until their investigation into the situation is completed.

The coach also apologized to both of the students in the video and their parents, according to State Youth Development, Sports and NGO Committee Chairman V.P Shanmugam, who also said the future of the coach’s career will be determined on Wednesday.

On Monday, a Twitter account going by "malacca volleyball club" came forth in defense of the coach, asking that others stop insulting him and to let them resolve the issue internally.

“He is our coach who trained us from his heart so that we can create history for the state of Malacca,” the tweet read in part.

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Further, the parents of the two students confirmed they have forgiven the coach and have moved on from the event, the New Straits Times reports. The family members expressed hope that the coach is allowed to remain with the team.

In an interview, one of the parents, Abd Halim, explained, “My daughter said the incident made her want to give her best performance during the tournament.”

”It is better not to encourage our children to join any sports if they cannot be reprimanded or have actions taken against against by the coach.”

Halim also emphasized the coach’s role in developing the team.

“From having zero knowledge of volleyball to representing Melaka in a national tournament, he has given so much to polish their skills to become good athletes,” the parent stated.

Speaking with reporters Tuesday, Education Minister Fadhlina Sidek revealed the coach’s consequences will depend on an integrity and discipline report. However, Sidek emphasized “there will be no compromise on violence and on issues related to violence against students.”

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