Last year, Gambian-born Mohamadou Sumareh, who plays for Super League side, Pahang, was drafted by FAM as a naturalised player.
Brazilian-born Elkeson scored twice in his China national football team debut against Maldives last week. And China can also rely on as many as nine other foreign born players who have been naturalised recently.
Singapore relied heavily on their Chinese imports for success in the table tennis arena.
England’s 2019 World Cup winning captain Eoin Morgan was actually an Irish international previously while both Ben Stokes and Jofra Archer were from New Zealand and Barbados respectively.
The Philippines also rely on naturalised Americans to boost their basketball fortunes. A number of middle east countries have also relied on foreign born athletes to reap successes on the athletics track and field.
While many scoff at the idea of using naturalised players to boost their sporting prowess, there are also many feel that it was normal to quench the thirst for success.
The Rugby World Cup starting in Japan later this week will see 17 of the 20 teams parading naturalised players. Tonga has nineteen players in their roster, who are foreign born while Samoa comes close with 17. Most of their players were either from New Zealand or from Australia.
Hosts Japan has almost half of their players qualifying under the World Rugby residency rule. New Zealander Michael Leitch moved to Japan to study as a 15-year-old and would be playing in his third World Cup for Japan.
Surprisingly 12 of the Wallabies players are also not originally from Australia.
There are pros and cons in allowing foreign players into the system in any sports. Success is no guaranteed. Malaysia did experiment with badminton and even athletics prior to this without major successes.
In China, the naysayers are concerned that China needed to look to naturalised players when the country has such a huge population to tap into. After all the Chinese are already a major sporting force with top three finishes in the past three Olympics.
Such moves are also seen as short term measure to rake in instant successes. However, it is also seen as giving a positive impact to inspire the aspiring local talents.
With globalisation, using naturalised players is rising world wide trend. While such practice in sports like football, cricket, rugby and athletics gain much publicity, it is also a prevalent trend in other sports.
Singapore, for instance started the Foreign Sports Talent (FST) scheme in 1993 in an effort to boost their international sporting image.
Bahrain’s Olympic track and field team is composed primarily of runners from Kenya and Ethiopia, along with more from Jamaica, Morocco and Nigeria. The team includes almost no runners born in Bahrain. Kenyan born Ruth Jebet went on to win the country’s first-ever Olympic gold medal, in the women’s 3,000-meter steeplechase.
Back in 2000., the entire Qatari weightlifting team were naturalised citizens with Angel Popov, competing under the name Said Saif Asaad winning a bronze.
Almost in all other sports, Qatar we were presented by predominantly naturalised citizens. In handball, 11 of their 14 players were originally from around the world.
There is no let-up in this worldwide trend. So do we join the bandwagon, or find ways to create a truly home bred sporting society?