Thursday, July 19, 2018



Hong Chin Football Club once the household name and pride of Selangor and Malaysian football in the 60s, 70s and early 80s – is celebrating its 50th anniversary in a big way this year.

Among the famous football clubs in the country, Hong Chin FC’s grand scale anniversary celebrations include a dinner which will be held on Saturday July 21

at the Oriental Pearl Restaurant at Bukit Jalil Golf & Country Club on Saturday.

Hong Chin was a unique football club because it was a community football based club, run by passionate and volunteers, who had to source for funds and most of the time contributed themselves.

The 50th anniversary organising committee secretary Michael Yei said 150 persons, including famous veterans and football personalities who made a name for themselves in the sport with Hong Chin FC, have confirmed their attendance for the dinner.

Among them include Datuk Santokh Singh, Datuk Dina Rizal, Yip Chee Keong, Abdullah Ali, John Engketesu, Peter Ambrose, Reduan Abdullah and many others.

Among the notable players who have come through Hong Chin include the likes of Lai Kok Kim, Tan Kim Meng, Khalid Ali, Reduan, Lim Hong Hock, K. Gunasegeran, Lim Then Guan, Engketesu, Peter Ambrose, Chan Chee Mun, Abdullah Ali, Yip Chee Keong, R. Subramaniam, Peter Rajah, Reduan Yunus and late Chow Chee Keong and Ong Yu Tiang. Many of them turned out for Selangor and the national team.

Last Saturday a Futsal tournament was organised at NPNG Sports Centre, as part of their anniversary celebration.

The Futsal tournament with the theme ‘Living in the Football Spirit’ saw
​4​0 veterans teams compete and another 15 veterans who came to support and cheer us on.

At the Futsal tournament - from right Michael Yei, Datuk Dina, Tan Kim Choon organising chairman, Yip Chee Keong, Datuk Santokh Singh and oldest particpant 76 year old Sucha Singh
 The youngest player was 46 years old and the oldest was 76 years.

For everyone's efforts and determination .....EVERYONE HAD TO BE A WINNER .....winner's gold medal was awarded to all - be it players or supporters.
“This year’s celebration event is the biggest to-date, although Hong Chin FC has had its annual gathering to come together to touch base, renew friendships and comradeship,” said Michael.

Hong Chin FC was officially registered in 1968 when funds were acquired to compete in the FA of Selangor League, although it was founded much earlier as a social club for the community of Brickfields. The club was formed to provide budding youngsters of the area a chance to become good footballers by harnessing their talent.

Hong Chin, which means ‘ever onwards’ in Chinese, was started by the late Charlie Tan and a group of friends from Scott Road, Brickfields (now known as Jalan Tun Sambanthan).

Charlie and his friends even rented a flat for their clubhouse (26A, Jalan Padang Belia – formerly Jalan Kandang Kerbau off Brickfields) facing the former Railway Recreation Club (RRC) ground (ear marked and sealed for a mega office complex 18 years ago but still remains sealed and no project upcoming) which was their home ground.

Hong Chin who started off as a small club, made giant leaps to become one of the feared teams not only in the Selangor League but also at the national club level competition (FAM Cup).

They won honours at the Selangor Dunhill League, invitational tournaments at the FAM Cup.

Division I match between Hong Chin and UMNO in 1970
Yei recalled his association with Hong Chin and football those days: “I grew up in the Scott Road/Jalan Kandang Kerbau (now Jln Tun Sambanthan) vicinity. My early days of playing football was on the Railway Recreation Club (RRC) field, the YMCA Field and the Jalan Chan Ah Thong Field. These were the three famous football venues in the Brickfields area. During those days, crowds used to gather around these fields practically every evening to watch football games under the auspices of the Football Association of Selangor (FAS).

“Monday, Wednesday and Fridays were Commercial League games whilst Tuesdays and Thursdays were for the Open League. The popular teams then were Sharpees (mainly comprising Indians) and Hong Chin (mainly comprising Chinese). The Railway and YMCA Fields were the place where these two were located. The Chan Ah Thong Field was where Datuk M. Chandran and Datuk N. Thanabalan were the stars.”

Other famous fields and associated with clubs include the Pudu field which was used by Selangor Recreation Chinese Club (SCRC), Selangor Indians Association (SIA) using the Kampong Attap ground, UMNO and Sultan Sulaiman Club at Sultan Sulaiman Club Kampong Baru ground, Railway Recreation Club at the Ipoh Road  and Sentul Pasar ground, Tamilian Physical Culture Association (TPCA) using Stadium at Kampung Baru, JKR using the Cheras ground and Royal Sealangor Club using the current Dataran ground to name a few fields.

“The RRC Field was the main field where many matches were played and it was “home” for Sharpees and Hong Chin. Hong Chin were in Division One whilst Sharpees were in Division 2. I began my footballing days playing for Sharpees and subsequently, the late Charlie Tan approached me to join Hong Chin.”

Charlie was largely instrumental for opening Hong Chin to receive players from other races. Hong Chin slowly but surely saw more and more Indian and Malay players. Then there was the period when we had an influx of players from Victoria Institution led by our able captain, Tan Kim Chuan and others like Indran, Dinabandu (Datuk Dina Rizal now), Michael Yap and Yap Kian Fui.

Hong Chin over the years from their humble beginnings at the Brickfields Railway Recreation Club (RRC) ground, went on to play their Premier Dunhill League matches at the Merdeka Stadium, TPCA, Kajang Stadium and Klang Stadium and then FAM Cup at State Stadium.

“We would not have had a history if not for Charlie in particular and his friends. All of us owe much to him. Infact if you mention Hong Chin, you must mention Charlie, and if you talk about Charlie, you have to talk about Hong Chin,” said organising chairman of the anniversary celebrations Tan Kim Chuan.

“We had the likes of Sandy Ho  Schwazenbeck) who sponsored all the jerseys, shorts, socks for the team then and friends like Dennis Raj and Tan Lip Peng to name a few. The team owe to all these people including many ex-players who came back to support the club with their generosity.”

The loss of Charlie in 1993 due to illness, saw the club started facing one problem after the other from losing their training ground, financial woes and players choosing to play for more illustrious and richer clubs and playing for their employers.

While Paul Tan (Charlie’s brother) took helm of the club after the demise of Charlie tried to keep the club afloat, it was difficult times as their only private football club then in existence.

Hong Chin at one time even nearly had to vacate their club house due to non-payment of rental but timely intervention from one of their former players – Gopi Vellachan - and a few long-time supporters managed to solve the problem.

While the old-timers are fighting hard to keep the legacy of Hong Chin alive with a veteran team and their annual gathering, the club now does not have a clubhouse.

But the name ‘Hong Chin’ is still kept alive by team manager Vijiyan Veloo who manages the team and is trained by N. Kananpathy at Taman Megah in Petaling Jaya three times a week and play in the Selangor Division One league.

They may not have top players in the team, but the legacy and true to its name "Hong Chin (Ever Onwards) it is still alive after 50 years!

Monday, July 16, 2018

Kwai Lam still walking tall - RIP PEACE KWAI LAM

FORMER national player and coach Chow Kwai Lam passed away at Ampang Puteri Hospital today at 11am. He would have turned 76 on Aug 26.
May his soul rest in peace.
As a tribute to Kwai Lam who was close to me having known him since the late 70s, I post this article I wrote on him four years ago as tribute to him.
I last spoke to him last month when he called to wish me 'happy birthday'. I was supposed to have visited him and had planned with a few friends to do so this week. Sad that it did not materialise.
You will be dearly  missed Chow Kwai! 

Late Chow Kwai Lam with Royal Selangor Club's  Patrick Keh, who has also passed on, at UKRC Soccer  9s dinner in 2010


Icons from the Past – Chow Kwai Lam

 Kwai Lam still walking tall

A dark episode at the tail end of Chow Kwai Lam’s illustrious career as a player and coach has not made him any lesser man than he richly deserves.

Kwai Lam, who turns 72 on Aug 26, (would have turned 76 next month) has always been known as a par excellence midfielder and a firebrand coach, who attained many notable results.
In 2007, Kwai Lam was fined S$50,000 (RM114,000) by the District Court in Singapore in default four months' jail for attempted bribery involving a Singapore League (S-League) match two years earlier. Kwai Lam paid the fine. 
He was charged with corruptly offering a sum of S$200 (RM455) to S$300 (RM684) and a further unspecified amount of cash to Zulkifli Zainolabidin who was the first choice goalkeeper of the Paya Lebar Punggol club, where he was coaching.


“It was indeed an episode which came about through sheer negligence,” said Kwai Lam recalling the incident.
“It was a clear case of misunderstanding where I was testing the player, but my fault was that I had not reported about it to anyone.
“I had just asked the player if he would ‘sell’ a game for S$200, as I was doing my own investigations. The player said no, I left the matter as it was.
“But after I had left the club, there was some investigations and this player had made a report and I was hauled in.
“Yes, I was charged, but I stand innocent and my conscience is clear.
“I did not make an appeal on the advice of my lawyer and besides I had already spent RM200,000 for legal fees.
“Singapore was bent to make some examples that they were doing everything possible to curb match-fixing and I became a victim.
“Although sad over the whole episode, I hold no grudges against anyone.
“All that mattered to me was that people who knew me and who mattered to me, knew that I was innocent. I had nothing to prove after all the years I have served football.”


Kwai Lam said the episode was behind him.
“I still can travel freely in and out of Singapore and nothing has changed.
“I have always strived for the best in what I do as a player and coach and have many memorable moments.
“As a player, I used to score many goals and won many tournaments.
“As a coach, I have done equally well both as a local and national coach.”

Kwai Lam has the credit of having won the Malaysia Cup medal thrice with Selangor as a player and six times (thrice with Selangor and thrice with Kuala Lumpur) as a coach.

His most memorable being as coach of the KL team who went to win the Malaysia Cup three times in-a-row from 1987-1989 besides winning the League Cup (1988), Charity Shield (1988 and 1989)

“I think that record is going to be a difficult feat for any coach to beat,” said Kwai Lam proudly.

Early beginnings

Kwai Lam hails from Negri Sembilan and played for the state team from 1961 to 1965 and was a member of the national youth team which competed in the Asian youth championship in 1961 and 1962.

His early coach was none other than Datuk Peter Velappan who coached the Negri Sembilan combined schools team.

Kwai Lam made his debut with the national team in 1965 when he played against England’s Southampton FC and went on to don national colours till 1971.

One of his proudest moment as a player was when he was selected for the Asian All-Star team in 1968 to play against Arsenal.

Kwai Lam also has a proud runners-up medal from the 1st Asian Champion Club championship in 1967 losing to Israel.


Kwai Lam owes his equally successful coaching career to FA of Malaysia for selecting him, Abdul Rahman Ibrahim and Mohamad Bakar to attend a Diploma Grade a course from the German Football Association in Hennef in1978 after having attained his advanced and A licence from FAM the year earlier.

“In the coaching course in Heneff, I was the top student and it was really inspirational in shaping my coaching career. I also have to thank former national coach Karl Weigang for his assistance,” said Kwai Lam who was the German coach’ understudy from 1976 to 1977.

Kwai Lam also had the opportunity learn from the best when he was on attachment with Club Borussia Monchenhlabach in Germany in 1978 under Udo Lattek and Jupp Hencyekes for a month.


Kwai Lam as a coach was known for firebrand attitude.

“I was just a strict and disciplined coach. I stand no nonsense and treat everyone equally. There is no favourites in my team. Even if he was the top player, but shirks, he pays the price,” said Kwai Lam.

“Many saw me as a fierce coach, but I think that is because of personality where I stand no nonsense.”


Kwai Lam paid tribute to former KLFA Tan Sri Elyas Omar who transformed the KL team from minnows to champions over a short period in the 80s.

“He was a visionary man and I am happy to have worked under him and tasted the success which he designed,” said Kwai Lam.

“Another man who helped transform KL is former World Cup coach Dr Josef Venglos. I am indeed honoured to have worked under him and learnt a great deal.”

Kwai Lam said he is sad to see KL football’s state today and only can hope that it will recover to taste its success of the 80s.

Down but not out

Kwai Lam suffered a stroke two years ago, where his left side was affected.

But being the go-getter he is, he has made remarkable recovery and keeps himself fit by going to the gym regimentally without fail six times a week at the Selangor Chinese Recreation Club (SCRC).

“I may not actively involved in football these days, but it is close to my heart and always keep in touch,” said Kwai Lam who drives everywhere he goes.

“I have a daughter who is a lawyer and a son who is an accountant and am just happy being close to my family these days. I have had an active football live and have no regrets. I just reminisce all the good times and all the achievements attained.”
Other Achievements:

Other teams coached in M-League: Police and Sarawak.

Handled the national team in 1978 to the King’s Cup victory in Thailand and third place in the Merdeka tournament.

Malaysian Olympic team chief coach from 1990 to 1991

Coached in Singapore in 2002  - Tampines Rover FC and Paya Lebar Punggol FC in 2005.

 FAM coaching instructor from 1978-1984.

Malaysia Cup winner as player with Selangor – 1968, 1971 and 1972
FAM Cup champion in 1967 and runnersup in 1968

Coached Cheq Point to FAM Cup champion 1985

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Obstacles to Praveen's Olympic Dream

By Tony Mariadass 

Not many athletes these days have the commitment to their passion, dreams, goals, sacrifices and above all know what it takes in one’s journey to the top.
Equestrian Praveen Mathavan Nair, is one athlete who has has set his sights on becoming the first Malaysian equestrian Olympian at the 2020 Tokyo Games.
However, the 20-year-old, despite showing total commitment and already having started his journey to achieve his dream, he has not received the kind of support this 'so called' sporting nation is expected to offer.
As usual Praveen at a young age has been frustrated by sports politics, bureaucracy, unsupportive officials and an association who seem to have their own agenda.
His latest frustration is that he has not been recommended by the Equestrian Association of Malaysia (EAM) for selection to the Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM), for the Jakarta/Palembang Asian Games in August.

At the last Asian Games in Incheon three years ago, he entered the qualifying rounds and qualified, only to be told he was ineligible because he was underage — as the competition rules required competitors to be at least 18-years-old.

“I was disappointed. I had hoped to make my Asiad debut in Jakarta this year, but there is obstacles again,” said Praveen who was back in town for a few days to surprise his father for his 5oth birthday last weekend.

Praveen was the youngest Malaysian SEA Games gold medallist in the dressage event at the 2013 Games in Myanmar when he was only 15.

Despite showing early talent, he was never really nurtured by the sports association, but thanks to his father Mathavan, who is better known as Matt, Praveen has been able to enjoy and hone his equestrian skills.

Yes, Praveen is a lucky lad but his father instilled him the values of sacrifice, humbleness and working hard as his father had to undergo hardship and work hard. 
Praveen’s father graduated in biochemistry and went on to set up a company, Digital Autopsy, that is registered in England and which has made inroads in Malaysia too.

Praveen surprised his father last weekend for hiss 50th birthday

Matts’ parents were rubber tappers in Ulu Tiram (Johor) estate.

Obstacles are nothing new to Praveen, for last year’s Sea Games in Kuala Lumpur, he was not even recommended by the Equestrian Association of Malaysia (EAM).

After winning gold in his debut SEA Games, he had to skip the 2015 Singapore Games because his horse was injured.

Thus he wanted so much to compete last year, even more so since it was at home.

Only the intervention of the Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM), who had received an appeal from Praveen to be considered for the KL Games, that EAM decided to include him and he went to assist to win the team gold.

Praveen had also qualified for the 2014 Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing.

Praveen who was pursuing a degree in Economics and Business at Maastricht University in Holland, had moved to the Mecca of equestrian sport which is Limburg (in the province of Aachen, Holland) last year to pursue his goal of combining excellence in sport with academic distinction.

Currently he has moved to England to train under John Whitaker, a Legendary British Equestrian Athlete.

Besides training, he competes in professional circuit among the top tier international riders in Europe.

Yesterday he was competing in the prestigious Equerry Bolesworth International Horse Show (13-17 June) and will follow up to compete in the The Al Shira’aa Hickstead Derby Meeting (21-24 June).

“All I am asking to be given a fair chance to realise my dream. I have sent in my proposals to EAM and even to the Podium Programme, but have not got any feedback,” said a disappointed Praveen.

“We are even prepared to pay one for one for the total cost towards my run-up to the Olympics.

“I am the only Malaysian training fulltime overseas and I am bent on doing well to make Malaysia proud.

“I know the cost is high for this sport, but assistance to get  sponsors will be an option.

“But nothing is forthcoming from the governors of the sports.

“I seriously hope that my plight is given some thought as I am serious and strongly believe that I have in me what it takes to excel and do well.

"I believe that I have a real chance in getting a medal in the Asian Games and being the first Malaysian to qualify for equestrian in the Olympics (I am already the only Malaysian to qualify and compete in the Youth Olympics).

"Advantages I have against other Malaysians:

·      Based in the UK where equestrian sport is highly competitive with easy access to European Competitions as well, as we truck the horses there twice a month anyway
·      Constantly competing in high level national and international competitions. Therefore, I know the circuit well and don’t have to go out of the way to do these qualifications.
·      Based with 3-time Olympic Medallist and showjumping legend John Whitaker. John is also 5 time World Championship Medallist and 13 time European Championship Medallist and is probably the most respected showjumper of all time.
·      John might be on the long list for 2020 Olympics as well for Great Britain
·      Equestrian sport is highly about the management and planning leading up to our goals and I am at an advantage as John’s team and support will be crucial for qualifying for such world renowned events. From vets, to chiropractors, farriers, grooms, transport and admin – being based with John allows me access to the best possible team.
·      I am also competing in major competitions that most other riders will not be invited to which gives me more experience in high level competitions."

However, Praveen said he will continue to chase his dream to qualify for the 2020 Olympics and intend to compete in the qualifiers starting next year.

“I sincerely hope EAM will support me and can get assistance," pleaded Praveen.

Will Praveen get to realise his dream or will be another disillusioned athlete whose talent was not nurtured!

Below are Contents of Proposal of Praveen submitted to EAM and Podium Programme for assistance:

·      Background
·      Past achievements + results
·      Targets to be achieved
·      Milestones to be achieved
·      Funding required for each year up to 2020 Olympics
·      Total funding request

Alongside with this proposal, I have also sent a supplementing cover letter and another letter for me to be nominated for the podium programme as based on our understanding, I have far surpassed the criteria required in order to be part of the podium programme.

u Started riding at the age of 10
u Representing Malaysia since the age of 13. Current age 20 years.
u Competed in junior and young rider classes and also in the open senior international categories with numerous results.

Funding Request

I have been always been extremely committed to his passion and have achieved great results through his journey to the top.
I am determined to keep rising to the top and requesting for the support and funding.
I am requesting a 3 step funding as below in order to achieve the milestones stated and do a run up to the 2018 Asian Games and the 2020 Olympic Games.
Amount (MYR)

Currently rides in the professional circuit in Europe amongst the world’s best and most elite athletes

Mentorship: Legendary John Whitaker MBE
u John Whitaker, a Legendary British Equestrian Athlete.
u Multiple Olympian, World and European Champion.
u Ranked World No.1 with Horse Argento
u Mentoring and guiding Praveen to train and compete among the worlds best.
u Currently based in Huddersfield, UK
Major Achievements

u 2013 FEI World Jumping Challenge Category A - 1st placing in Zone 9
u 2012 FEI Dressage Challenge; Preliminary – 1st placing on Drumminmore (Highest Score Zone 8)
u 2012 Mitavite 6 bar competition; 160 cm – 1st placing on Clearcut
u 2011 CSIJ Korea; 110 cm on borrowed horse individuals – 2nd placing
u 2011 SEA Young Riders Series, Malaysia – Overall 2nd placing on Drumminmore
u 2017 SEA Games KL; Team Showjumping – 1st place on Clearcut
u 2016 CSI* Grand Prix of Den Gouberg, Netherlands – 6th placing on Clearcut
u 2014 CSI** KRA Cup Individuals Borrowed Horse, Seoul, South Korea- 1st placing
u 2014 Youth Olympic Games, Nanjing
u 2013 SEA Games Myanmar; Individual Dressage- 1st placing
Overall Milestones

u Scouting and purchasing of top level Grand Prix horse (jumping 160cm or jumping 145cm+ with potential to jump 160cm classes)
u Training for international competitions (CSI) – Ongoing
u Start competing at CSI** Grand Prix’s
u Start getting invitations to compete at CSI***- CSI***** levels
u Gain Longines World Ranking by doing these (at the moment, no Malaysian has a world ranking)
u Qualify into 2018 Asian Games by individual and/or team
u Compete in 2018 Asian Games (target a medal)
u Qualify into 2019 SEA Games by team and individual
u Compete in 2019 SEA Games (target gold – Praveen will have 2 horses (2017 SEA Games horse and new horse) to choose from so will be able to pick horse in best form to compete)
u Do qualifiers for 2020 Olympic Games in 2019 once list of qualifiers are released
u Qualify for the 2020 Olympic Games
u Compete in 2020 Olympic Games as first Malaysian equestrian athlete

Funding Required for 2018 Milestones

Amount (MYR)
Purchase of Grand Prix Horse
Training & Livery
Living and Maintenance
Total Funding

Funding Required for 2019 Milestones

Amount (MYR)
Training (Ongoing)
Living and Maintenance
Start competing at CSI**
Cost unknown
Invitations and competitions at CSI***-CSI*****
Cost unknown
Qualify and compete at 2018 Asian Games with medal target
Cost unknown
Total Funding

Funding Required for 2020 Milestones

Amount (MYR)
Training (Ongoing)
Living and Maintenance
Qualify and compete at 2019 SEA Games with gold  medal target
Cost unknown
Start qualifications for 2020 Olympics
Cost unknown
Total Funding