Friday, January 13, 2017

LET’S NOT GO OVERBOARD





    

  CONGRATULATIONS to Faiz Subri for being awarded the Fifa Puskas Award for his outstanding freekick goal for Penang against Pahang on Feb 16 last year.
The 29-year player who hails from Ayer Hitam in Kedah but dons Penang colours, has become an overnight star.
Credit must be given as he is the first Asian to win the award inaugurated in 2009.
However, as rightly pointed out by Johor Crown Prince Tunku Ismail Ibrahim, there is no need to place Faiz on a pedestal.
The Crown Prince has blamed the media and social media for hyping up Faiz’s achievement and by all indications it is not going to stop.
In fact, the circus has just began.
As Faiz touched down on Wednesday afternoon, the FA of Malaysia announced a monetary reward of a total of RM150,000 (RM100,000 from the Sports Ministry and RM50,000 from FAM).
The Penang government promised him RM50,000.
Celebrations have begun in Penang. Kedah, where he kicked off his career as an Under-21 President’s Cup player (2006-2008), have also joined in the and even have plans for a road show. More rewards are expected to pour in.
Faiz scored 10 goals to help them earn promotion to the Super League in 2015. But, apart from his wonder goal, he failed to shine last year due to injuries.
Politicians have joined the bandwagon to share in Faiz’s limelight, for their political mileage.
Faiz will be awarded the Bintang Semangat Jerai Kedah in conjunction with the Sultan of Kedah, Tuanku Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah’s 89th birthday celebrations next week and it will come as no surprise if he is given a Datukship!
The recognition is well and good but we have to ask, what is it going to do for Malaysian football?
Maybe Penang FA setting up a football academy with Faiz as the icon, could be a better way to inspire youngsters.
We need to think out of the box and not get overly excited on matters which will not change the status of Malaysian football. We are ranked No 161 in the world.
For all we know, Faiz could well fade away to obscurity.
The problem with Malaysian sports is that we are so starved of “real successes” that we rejoice and go overboard with any recognition without weighing it in the right context.
Tunku Ismail may have sounded harsh or unappreciative but he was speaking the truth and putting the matter into perspective.
He had said in his statement: “I would rather be hated for stating the truth than loved for stating unsubstantiated facts.”
He added: “This is a good individual achievement, but we must ask, where does the national football stand in terms of corruption, international standing, and team management in comparison to teams like Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines or Indonesia that are on a constant and rapid incline. So what have I got to be proud of?
“It’s true Faiz’s achievement is good, but when FAM stated his achievement is a benchmark for Malaysian football, I beg to differ. He’s only scored one goal, and apart from that, he’s been oblivious throughout the season.
“To place him on the pedestal and be comfortable with our current standing now, is not right. This is why the football in Malaysia and our country cannot progress in every aspect. “
The Crown Prince was also spot on when he said he will be prouder to give recognition to players such as Zainal Abidin Hassan, Dollah Salleh, Santokh Singh, Amri Yahyah, Safiq Rahim, Aidil Zafuan, Safee Sali, Badrol Radzi, Indra Putra Mahayuddin, Khairul Fahmi Che Mat and Hairuddin Omar as they not only scored goals every season, but they’ve also achieved success in the clubs they represented.
“We should also give recognition for their contributions to the national team too,” he added.
Indeed there are more important issues to address in Malaysian football such as our integrity and the current reputation of our national football.
It is without doubt that many will disagree with views expressed, but sometimes the truth hurts.
Let us for the love of the game and the nation’s football status, start doing the right things to see our standard rise to a respectable level again.
Only one or two teams alone cannot champion the cause. It has to be a national agenda and a collective effort of all.

TONY is a sports journalist with close to four decades of experience and is passionate about local sports. He can be reached at tmariadass@gmail.com

   

Friday, January 6, 2017

NO LIMIT TO THIAYAGA’S PASSION





   
A. THIAYAGA RAJU proved passion and patriotism are very much alive.
The 55-year-old, who has been a fan of the Singapore national team since he was 12, forked out S$8,000 (RM25,000) to organise a “Singapore Legends Appreciation Night” on Sunday at Ceylon Sports Club.
Thiayaga is not a wealthy person nor was he seeking publicity. What he did was a genuine gesture and for the love of Singapore football and his appreciation to players who brought glory through the Malaysia Cup.
Thiayaga recalled: “I became a fan on Sunday May 26, 1974. 
“I went to National Stadium for the first time to watch Singapore play Penang in a Malaysia Cup first leg semifinal. 
“I was 12. When my friends and I arrived at the stadium, we saw thousands of fans climbing the stadium gates and high walls.
“We did likewise not knowing we were entering the stadium illegally. There were about 70,000 fans inside (capacity was only 60,000).
“Fans risking limb and life to watch Singapore footballers amazed me.
“Three years later, Singapore reached the Malaysia Cup final which they won 3-2 in extratime with Quah Kim Song bagging a brace. I started hero worshipping many of the players.
“It remains the greatest day in Singapore football.”
Among those from that team present at the appreciation dinner were Kim Song, Roy Krishnan, Lim Teng Sai, Seak Poh Leong and family members of the late Dollah Kassim and Lim Chiew Peng.
Thiayaga wrote a letter to newspapers asking for the legends to be recognised and honoured. Despite it being published, there were no interested parties.
“Even more disappointing, the FA of Singapore did not respond,” said Thiayaga, who then decided to organise the dinner on his own.
“It was my passion for the game and my appreciation of the many legends who gave me and Singapore fans many joyous and memorable moments,” said Thiayaga, who is married to Kuek Sook Chern and has two children — T. Yuvarani, 21 and T. Ajit Kumar, 19.
Thiayaga also had Malaysian heroes like N. Thanabalan, Soh Chin Aun, Santokh Singh, M. Chandran and the late Isa Bakar to name a few.
“Isa who played for Penang in 1972, became a good friend when I launched my book on Terry Pathmanathan (Captain Marvel: The T. Pathmanathan Story) at SRC Padang in 1998,” said Thiayaga.
“Isa wanted me to write a similar book on Malaysian football legends and even offered me to stay in his house for six months to write it. But I couldn’t as I’m not able to spend so much time away from home.”
Thiayaga said organising the event honouring them was a dream come true and he was grateful that a large number of those invited turned up, especially from the Malaysia Cup victorious Singapore teams of 1977 (beat Penang 3-2), 1980 (beat Selangor 2-1), and 1994 (beat Pahang 4-0).
The night began with a video presentation of Singapore’s golden moments in the Malaysia Cup.
Thiayaga had 54 plaques to be presented to people who had contributed to Singapore football, including footballers, family members and sports journalists from Singapore and Malaysia. Only 45 were present to receive their plaques.
From left, Rocky Lim, national coach V Sundramoorthy, Lions legends Quah Kim Song and Samad Allapitchay, diehard fan A Thiyaga Raju, head coach of youth Fandi Ahmad, former national player Ho Kwang Hock and veteran radio DJ Brian Richmond. PHOTO: COURTESY OF CHOO PHOTOS

The event was emceed by veteran sports commentator, radio DJ, former national youth player and coach, Brian Richmond.
Godfrey Robert, a former Sports Editor of The Straits Times and Consulting Editor of The New Paper and veteran sports journalist Joe Dorai (Straits Times) were honoured from the Singaporean media while Dan Guen Chin and this scribe were honoured from across the causeway.
Malaysian footballers honoured were Chin Aun and Thanabalan.
Thiayaga should be applauded for his effort and determination to recognise the footballing legends of Singapore.
Thiayaga as an individual shown the way for Singaporeans and it’s about time Malaysia’s ex-internationals be given due recognition.

Footballers honoured:
Fandi Ahmad, V. Sundram Moorthy, S. Rajagopal, Samad Allapitchay, T. Pathmanathan, R. Suriamurthi, Quah Kim Song, Roy Krishnan, Robert Sim, Lim Teng Sai, Lim Tien Jit, Malek Awab, K. Kannan

D. Devaraj, Salim Moin, Haslir Ibrahim, Razali Saad, Yahya Madon, Ho Kwang Hock, Samsudin Rahmat, Seak Poh Leong, Dollah Kassim, Lim Chiew Peng and Brian Richmond.


TONY is a sports journalist with close to four decades of experience
and is passionate about local sports.
He can be reached at 
tmariadass@gmail.com


Friday, December 30, 2016

IT'S TOUGH NEW YEAR RESOLUTION, AS USUAL









IT’S that time once again as the New Year dawns upon us on Sunday to make resolutions.
More often than not resolutions are made with enthusiasm and many unrealistic ones are made in the process.
However, so often when the next New Year comes around, a year from now, we are no better off than we were last year.
And it’s no surprise when many fail to not being able to uphold their resolutions no matter how hard they tried.
However, we still believe it was always worth trying, but among the sports fraternity, I wonder if they actually have resolutions that get fullfilled. 
Yet, a majority of the National Sports Associations (NSAs) start out hoping for the best.
However, in fairness to a handful of associations, who run their bodies professionally, they have programmes with emphasis on grassroots development. They are the ones who time and again come out tops and continue to progress.
And it is associations governing badminton, squash, cycling, gymnastics, waterski and wakeboard, and tenpin bowling which continue to give Malaysian sports a good name.
Others which do well and in line to raise the bar include basketball, cricket, golf, hockey, netball, rugby, snooker and billiards, swimming and wushu.
But much more can be done by all and those who have not been doing much, they had better make it their resolution to shape up or ship out!
The biggest worry associations always face is the lack of finance, yes, it is agreed times are bad and sponsorship, big or small, is hard to come by, and many of sports supporters are already tied down with chosen associations.
It is time to think out of the box and get rid of the dole mentality.
NSAs must stop running to the National Sports Council (NSC) with the begging bowl and instead learn to manage their grassroots programmes by themselves.
Grassroot programmes must be managed by NSAs, full stop.
Otherwise, they might as well hand over their associations to NSC.
For next year, NSC have a budget of RM1.2 billion, of which RM450 million will go towards preparing athletes for the Sea Games and Asean Para Games which Malaysia will host from August to September.
Another RM75 million has also been allocated for the Podium Programme, which is geared to the 2020 Olympic gold medal target.
The programme also targets a top-10 medal finish at the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia and Commonwealth Games in Australia the same year.
Under the Kita Juara programme, even sports associations who have in the past not been receiving much assistance from NSC as they are considered ‘minor’ sports, will get aid to prepare their athletes for the Games.
This is to ensure Malaysia as hosts emerge champions in the biennial Games.
A target of 100 gold medals or more is the target to achieve the overall championship title.
A lot of money is being spent towards the Games besides just for training — infra-structure, beautification, transportation, accommodation, opening and closing ceremonies and many other areas.
But it is hoped money spent through this Games leaves behind a legacy and a foundation for many sports to use this platform to higher levels in the coming years.
However, if NSAs are just going to use the funds for the Games to ride on the bandwagon without and clear objectives, it is going to be money down the drain.
Without doubt the resolution for NSAs for this year must be to win as many gold medals as their athletes can to aid Malaysia emerge champions last achieved when the country hosted the 2001 Games winning 111 gold, 98 silver and 86 bronze medals.
Happy New Year everyone, but the sports fraternity should hold their celebrations till Aug 31 — the last day of the SEA Games and Merdeka Day.

TONY is a sports journalist with close to four decades of experience and is passionate about local sports.
He can be reached at tmariadass@gmail.com





Friday, December 23, 2016

MERRY SEASON, THOUGH NOT FOR FOOTBALL



COMMENTARY   

Level Field 

    

THE jolly season is here, but certainly not for football.
Football is at its lowest ebb, at international and domestic levels.
But let’s not talk about the national team, especially after their dismal performance at the AFF Cup earlier this month.
Let’s look instead at our domestic league, which should be the foundation of our national team.
It’s in a mess despite the game having been played competitively since 1921, with a transition to semi-professionalism in 1989 before going fully professional in 1994.
Even the fact the league is managed privately by Football Malaysia Limited Liability Partnership (FMLPP) has not solved anything.
In fact, it has plunged it into more controversies and complications.
The appointment of MP & Silva, a leading international sports agency, by the FA of Malaysia (FAM) as its global advisor on media and commercial rights, with the goal of extending its broadcast reach and maximising the commercial potential of its properties for 15 years, was seen as a great move.
But in less than a year from its start, the marriage between FAM and MP & Silva is on the rocks and headed for divorce!
To make matters worse, Kelantan, Perlis and Selangor are contemplating withdrawing from the league if they cannot secure funds to manage their teams.
Do these teams realise a pullout will bring a total ban and a fine by FAM?
Then, we have the wrangle between FA of Selangor and PKNS over the latter’s participation in the Super League owing to sanction issues, while Kuala Lumpur FA refuses to allow City Hall SC to compete in the FAM Cup.
PKNS complicated matters by registering themselves as affiliates with the Malaysian Malay Football Association (MMFA) while still being registered with FAS and participating in their league.
The double registration complicates matters.
The question whether PKNS are an associate member or full member of MMFA is fraught because the latter’s constitution requires members to have the word ‘Malay’ in their club’s name.
How any football organisation which exists to promote and develop football can deny participation to an eligible team, I cannot understand.
However, when it is purely a case of financial woes, as are the cases in Kelantan and Perlis, the question must be asked: How can professional teams continue to be dependent on state government aid?
But this is what happens when state FAs appoint government officials as their heads, as these officials are expected to use their influence to raise money.
Why can’t Malaysian clubs, as in most parts of the world, be run professionally, like business entities?
A majority of teams in Malaysia do not even have their own stadiums, training grounds, clubhouses and buses to travel to matches, which are basic requirements for professional teams.
Even when teams obtain sponsors, they get into problems because some sponsors have their own agenda.
Without doubt, Malaysia football is in crisis.
Time and again, there were changes to the M-League format, the composition of teams and even the rules.
Yes, changes to make the league better are acceptable. But when each time a change is made and has the effect of plunging the league deeper into confusion and controversy, we are certainly heading the wrong way.
The time has come to be strict with teams wanting to compete in the M-League.
The Super League must be for teams which meet the criteria of a professional team. The Premier League must be for amateurs.
It may be the season to be jolly and generous, but what local governors of football need, is to be cruel to be kind.
Malaysian football can no longer wait for Santa Claus to come bearing them gifts.
Merry Christmas everyone!

TONY is a sports
journalist with close to
four decades of experience
and is passionate about
local sports.
He can be reached at
tmariadass@gmail.com