Monday, July 21, 2014

Fans getting a raw deal

Chow Chee Keong is a rare breed among Malaysian sportsmen, but there is not much record of his career. Last week, in an exclusive interview with Tony Mariadass, he revealed many things not known about him.

SATURDAY, JULY 19, 2014 - THE MALAY MAIL
icons
IN this second part of the interview, the 64-year-old Chee Keong, who rarely speaks to the media, talks about local players, football administration andl fans.
IT was an era when goalkeepers were many and extremely talented, but Chow Chee Keong still emerged as the top custodian.
There was Lim Fung Kee, Wong Kam Fook, the late R. Arumugam and Ong Yu Tiang and Rashid Hassan who came to the scene a little later, but Chee Keong remains the best goalkeeper ever to grace the national jersey.
Not only was he voted Best Goalkeeper from 1966 to 1968 by the Asian Football Confederation, he was also sought by top Brazilian club Cruzerio FC. The great Pele, whom Chee Keong played against on numerous occasions while plying his professional trade in Hong Kong, became his good friend and had, not surprisingly, had many kind words about the Malaysian’s performances.
Other Malaysians followed suit
Chee Keong was instrumental in paving the way for many other Malaysians to play professionally in Hong Kong. These included Fung Kee, Kam Fook, the late Wong Choon Wah and Yip Chee Keong.
“These players approached me to help them find clubs in Hong Kong and I did. But sadly, many of them blamed me when they ran into diffi culties, coping with the conditions in Hong Kong,” said Chee Keong.
“Naturally, the local players were not happy with Malaysians playing in Hong Kong. They made it difficult for us, and we became their target in matches. It was no diff erent for me when I first went to Hong Kong, where I had to use my martial arts skills in goalkeeping to prevent myself from getting injured.
“I also had to be mentally strong and was determined to make a name for myself.”
Chee Keong said some of the Malaysian players who came to Hong Kong were not mentally strong and soon became depressed and wanted out.
“(Namesake) Yip Chee Keong was an exception. He adapted himself well and was a hit with South China FC.”
Chee Keong said Malaysian players should strive to play overseas because all over the world, the better players play in leagues outside their home country.
“That is the only way to improve one’s game and all the challenges they are faced with will only make them better players.
chow
Chee Keong defies gravity during the Merdeka tournament in his heyday
Malaysian players
“It is sad that many Malaysian players who have had the opportunity to go overseas decided to return, citing weather conditions, food, language, homesickness and not being able to adapt to the tough training or blending with the team.
“As long as this continues, Malaysian players are not going to improve and reach high standards just by playing in the leagues at home,” he said.
He also took a dig at present day athletes who take things for granted, are pampered and who do not know what sacrifice is all about.
“I cannot believe that present day sportsmen and women lack the ambition to improve themselves and reach for the highest level of performance.
“They are so easily contented in the comfort zone. They do not push themselves and shun hard work.”
Naturally, he said sports in Malaysia must be administered by former sportsmen and women rather than politicians and people who do not have a clue about the sport.
“It is sad that many sports associations are run by people who do not have a clue of the sport or are not sportingly orientated,” said Chee Keong.
“Many helm the associations for their own personal gain or just to be popular and enjoy the benefits.
“We need officials who are passionate about sports and want to take sports to the highest level possible.
Fans
“Malaysia is very lucky to have loyal fans who pack the stadium week in and week out despite the poor quality of football dished out,” said Chee Keong.
“It is about time that something is done for the fans so that they get their money’s worth.
“Right now, they are being cheated as the football is of poor quality.
“The governing body, the coaches and players have an obligation to treat the fans to better quality games.
“These people have to remember that the day the fans decide to walk out on them, they will be playing to empty stadiums and the football will fall flat in country. I hope they do not take the fans for granted.”

Friday, July 18, 2014

‘Don’t quote me, please!’

FRIDAY, JULY 18, 2014 - The Malay Mail
tony

THERE
 needs to be a major shake-up in the majority of our sports organisations if we want to move forward.
If we continue the way we are, there are bound to be more heartaches, disappointments and failures.
Despite sports generally having been elevated to professional level, the results have not been encouraging. There is plenty of money available for sports and ultra-modern facilities are in abundance, yet, we find our athletes struggling to match past performances.
A major hindrance to the achievement of excellence is the administration of sports, which leaves much to be desired. Many associations are plagued by presidents and top officials who will not lift a finger to keep their associations on an even keel or aid their athletes who participate in championships abroad — but they will be the first to line up for overseas assignments.
Then, we have officials who will not say anything against their organisations even if they strongly feel that something is wrong. They do not want to ruffle any feathers and put their position in jeopardy.
But when you talk to them, they will tell you all the ills of the association and how it can be better managed. At the end of the conversation, they will come up with this famous line: “Don’t quote me, please.”
They want the dirty work to be done by someone else.
And when the article appears, those who had given the information will be the first to bring it to the attention of the presidents or higher-ups. Why? Because they want to be in the good books of their superiors to safeguard their position.
How can we expect any change when the officials play the ‘two-timing’ game?
Maybe, it is time the athletes revolted and demanded that the right people manage them. But then again, most of the athletes can hardly take care of themselves.
Still, the current situation needs to be addressed immediately. Will those who are sincere, passionate, have fresh ideas and act professionally please stand up and save Malaysian sports?
Tony Mariadass is a sports journalist
with more than three decades of
experience and is passionate about
local sports. He can be reached at
tmariadass@gmail.com.
Twitter handle: @tmariadass

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The 'Steel Gate' keeper

ICONS FROM THE PAST

Saturday, July 13, 2014 - The Malay Mail
By TONY MARIADASS

CHOW CHEE KEONG (pic) is arguably the best goalkeeper Malaysia has ever produced, but today, instead of football, he is teaching golf in the Klang Valley.
A former student of St. John Institution, he had the rare distinction of playing for the national Under-20 youth team at the tender age of 13 and made his national debut as a 15-year-old! He played in five Merdeka tournaments (1965 to 1969) and was in the Malaysian team who won the title in 1968. He then turned professional in Hong Kong in 1970, where he played for a decade.

Early days

“I was very lucky to have played with some of the greats of Malaysian football like Abdul Ghani Minhat, Robert and Richard Choe, Dali Omar, Ibrahim Mydin, Abdullah Nordin, Syed Ahmad to name a few. Being only 15, I was treated like a son and they taught me many things which made me a better player,” said Chee Keong.
chee
Chee Keong makes a save from the great Pele.

Stint in England

“I did my A Levels in King's College, England and went on to pursue a physical education course from 1966 to 1969. While I was there, I wanted to stay in touch with the game and Peter Velappan helped me get in touch with then West Ham manager Ron Greenwood to ask if I could train with their junior team," said Chee Keong, who will turn 65 on November 26. “I was given a chance to train with the juniors and whenever they needed a goalkeeper to play in the lower league games, they would call me. I would play at least one match a month. It was a great experience.”
Asked why he did not opt for a permanent stint in England, Chee Keong said it was difficult to break into the system in England and he was already fortunate to have had those temporary stints.

Turning pro in Hong Kong

“Many think I am the first Malaysian to turn professional. But I am not. The first was Perak’s Wong Kong Leong, who played in Australia for a short spell,” said Chee Keong.
“It was by chance that I turned pro. At the end of my three years in England, I decided to go for a holiday in Hong Kong with another college mate. I also wanted to meet my sifu, from whom I had learnt martial arts in Malaysia,” said Chee Keong, who is an exponent in karate, taekwondo and kung fu.
“While at my sifu’s home, I met the team doctor of Jardines FC, who asked if I could play for his club, who had to get three points from their remaining three matches to avoid relegation. I agreed and helped the team draw all three games and avoid relegation.
“That was when I was offered a contract for the new season. However, Jardine folded after a season and I moved on to South China AAA before ending my stint with Hong Kong Rangers FC.”

Regrets

But despite an illustrious career which included being named Best Goalkeeper from 1966 to 1969 by the Asian Football Confederation, Chee Keong has regrets and it is because of that he is now involved in golf.
“I had a golden opportunity to play football in Brazil when I was in Hong Kong. Cruzerio FC came for a friendly match and they had Emerson Leao, one of the all-time best Brazilian goalkeepers. The local newspapers started to compare me with him, but in the end he did not play. It was after the game that I was approached to join the team,” said Chee Keong, who earned the nickname "Asian Stainless Steel Gate” and "Crazy Sword". “But I didn't take it seriously and that was the end of the story.
chee2
“The next year, when I was back in Malaysia, Cruzerio toured Malaysia and I was asked to play for the national team. And after the game, the offer to play in Brazil was made again. The condition was that I had to take up Brazilian citizenship.
“This time, I was serious about taking my career to the next level and decided to take up the offer. But I wanted to return to Malaysia after my stint in Brazil and had approached the late Tunku Abdul Rahman, then president of FA of Malaysia, and officials to assist me to get back my Malaysian citizenship . But I was turned down. With that went my hope of playing in Brazil.
“Till today, I regret I was denied an opportunity to taste professional football in the land of football.”
Chee Keong said his other regret was the way he was treated when he turned professional.
“Many called me a traitor to the nation, but nobody asked why I left to become a professional.
Firstly, for any footballer to improve, he has to play in a foreign league. Secondly, I did not come from a rich family. I needed money and it was a career. But I still returned to play for Malaysia when required in invitational tournaments.
“And when I returned from my pro stint, I remember writing a four-part series in a local newspaper, underlining the ills of Malaysian football, the way to go forward with a professional setup and management. My main contention was that for a professional league, it had to be run by professionals from a different entity and not FAM. It did not go down well with FAM and I was heavily criticised, such as what gave me the right to speak of professional football after playing in Hong Kong for a few years.
“That’s when I decided that I had enough with football. I turned to golf, not to just play but make it my career. I was a two-handicapper at one stage, but I was more interested in attending golf coaching and management courses and eventually started coaching in Hong Kong and China for 10 years be fore returning to coach here."
Married to Christina Kwok, the daughter of former FAM secretary, the late Datuk Kwok Kin Keng (1951-1980), Chee Keong has a 30-year-old son, who is a national ice-hockey goalkeeper and avid paint-ball player.
“Despite some disappointments in life, I am still a very happy and contented person doing what I love with a happy family.”\

Teong Kim has hand in World Cup Final


Published on Saturday 12 July
Saturday, July 13, 2014 - The Malay Mail
By TONY MARIADASS

WHEN Germany face Argentina in tomorrow’s World Cup football final in Rio de Janeiro, a Malaysian can look on with satisfaction that three of the German players were once his proteges.
That man is Lim Teong Kim, a former international who’s now technical director of the National Football Development Programme (NFDP).
teong
Teong Kim

Teong Kim, who returned to Malaysia earlier this year after coaching Bayern Munich’s junior team from 2001 to 2012, had a 12-year-old Thomas Mueller under his wing at the Bayern academy.
Mueller, now 24 , has scored 10 World Cup goals so far since making his debut for Germany at the 2010 finals in South Africa.
In the current fi nals, the Bayern forward has bagged five so far, including a hattrick in the 4-0 rout over Portugal in their opening World Cup Group G match. Two other players in the current German team coached by Teong Kim are Toni Kroos and Mats Hummels.
“Midfielder Kroos, a target of Real Madrid after interest from Manchester United waned, scored two goals in the 7-1 demolition of hosts Brazil in the semifinal on Tuesday.
Hummels, who currently plays for Borussia Dortmund, came through the Bayern Munich youth programme. It was Teong Kim who suggested to Hummels’ father, coach of the Under-15 team, that his son switch from being an attacking midfielder to central defence, a role he currently plays for Dortmund and Germany.
“Thomas was talent scouted and handed to me when he joined Bayern Munich. He was a great player to work with and we became very close. In fact, our families are close,” said Teong Kim, who is married to a German and has three children — son aged 20 and two daughters aged 17 and 18.
At the 2010 World Cup, Mueller scored five goals in six appearances as Germany fi nished third in the tournament. He was named the Best Young Player of the tournament and won the Golden Boot as the tournament’s top scorer.
In a post-tournament interview, Mueller credited Teong Kim for moulding him and the European media were frantically trying to fi gure out who was Teong Kim.
“Yes, I heard about the interview. It was indeed flattering that Thomas acknowledged me in his moment of glory,” said Teong Kim, who played with Bundesliga side Hertha Berlin in 1987.
The Malacca-born Teong Kim has the FA of Malaysia Advanced Coaching Certificate and German FA (DFB) Master Coaching Licence.
“It feels good to see players whom you have trained reach the highest level of the game.
The best part of youth coaching is to see the fruits of your labour. It is tireless job with no guarantee of success, but when it happens, you feel so accomplished.”
Teong Kim said what he is doing with the NFDP is no different to what he had done at the Bayern Munich academy.
“Hopefully, it will bear fruit with top players emerging one day,” he said.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Athletics in the doldrums

Friday, July 11, 2014 - The Malay Mail

1

THAT one of the oldest sports associations in the country — the Malaysian Athletics Federation (MAF) which has undergone numerous name changes – is struggling to find its footing after a glorious past is indeed shameful.
The governing body was formed as the Athletic Association in Perak in 1906. In 1920, at a meeting in Kuala Lumpur, a decision was made to introduce inter-state championships.
The championships were organised by the then Amateur Athletic Association of British Malaya, which was renamed the Amateur Athletic Association of Malaya in 1931.
This association was dissolved in 1952 and a new body, called the Federation of Malaya Amateur Athletic Union (FMAAU), was formed.
With the formation of Malaysia, the FMAAU was disbanded to make way for the Malaysian Amateur Athletic Union (MAAU), which in turn became MAF.
Whatever the name of the association, it is an understatement to say Malaysian athletics has slumped to its lowest ebb.
The recent 91st Malaysian Open in Perlis was a non-affair.
One wonders if any planning was put into organising this year’s meet, which was held two weeks after Perlis hosted the Malaysia Games (Sukma). This means athletes had to peak twice within two weeks, on top of that, it was examination time for schools.
Not surprisingly, the meet was held to a near-empty Tuanku Syed Putra Stadium in Kangar. To add insult to injury, MAF president Datuk Zainal Abidin Ahmad (below) blamed it on the lack of a local superstar.
Whose fault is that? What has the MAF done to rectify the situation? Look at Thailand. The secretary-general of its athletics association, Surapong Ariyamongkul, and his brother Supanut have been involved for more than 30 years and have kept it flying high through dedication and hard work.
Zainal also complained about little support from sponsors and government. He has been singing the same tune since he assumed the president’s post two years ago.
I remember when the government services, inter-bank and state meets used to attract much attention and publicity. Their organisers did not moan and groan about lack of sponsors or government aid.
1
If sports in the country is to be totally dependent on the government, why do we need the national bodies?
The National Sports Council (NSC) is an arm of the Ministry of Sports that assists national associations wherever possible, especially in mass programmes, but it cannot be held responsible for the management of all sports in the country.
The NSC seems to have taken over the running of many sports over the years, but this is because the inept national associations allowed it to happen.
What has MAF done to deserve sponsors? When sports like basketball, badminton, squash, hockey, football and tenpin bowling,to name but a few, have managed to get corporate sponsors, why hasn’t athletics when it is a highly marketable sport? Has enough effort been put in to reach out to the sponsors?
MAF’s website has listed the Ministry of Youth and Sports, the NSC, the National Institute of Sports, the International Association of Athletics Federations and the Asian Athletics Association as its sponsors. Its only two real sponsors are Milo and Mizuno.
The MAF wants Malaysia to regain its status as an athletics powerhouse at regional level and eventually at international level.
How does it propose to do so when it will not lift a finger to bring in the funds? Maybe it is time to bring back more of the past athletes to serve. If younger past athletes helm MAF, their fresh ideas will surely move the sport forward.
In the 1997 SEA Games, Malaysia won 17 gold medals. But in the 27th SEA Games in Myanmar last year, Malaysia only managed four gold, six silver and three bronze medals – its worst SEA games showing in history.
The MAF’s appointment of Australian Robert Ballard as technical director of coaching alone is not enough to lift Malaysian athletics out of the pits.
The MAF has to wake up from its slumber and get its act together.

TONY MARIADASS is a sports journalist
with more than three decades of
experience and is passionate about local
sports. He can be reached at tmariadass@
gmail.com. Twitter handle:
@tmariadass

Monday, July 7, 2014

Captain of the shadows

Saturday, July 05, 2014 - Malay Mail
rama
By TONY MARIADASS

R. RAMA KRISHNAN etched his name as a prolific player in Malaysian hockey, but many do not even remember him.because he has always kept a low profile.
Yet his contributions to the nation would put to shame some of the players from the current generation.
Rama, who skippered the national team at the 1978 World Cup, has always shunned publicity. When he turned 61 on June 18, he can look back with pride at his hockey career, having played in two Olympics (1972 and 1976), three World Cups (1973, 1975, 1978), two Asian Games (1974 and 1978) and four Seap/Sea Games besides a host of international tournaments.
rama2
Rama (left) in action in the Razak Cup tournament in 1970
A righthalf who could play in any midfield position, he came from an era when there was a big pool of talented players andcompetition for the national team was keen. That he was a first XI player throughout was no mean feat.
Rama hails from Teluk Anson (now Teluk Intan) in Perak, which produced several hockey greats like C. Paramalingam, A. Francis, Thor Chang Meng and, from the later generation, R. Shanker and Prabaharan Nair He started playing hockey as a schoolboy on the well-known Speedy Field. A student of St. Anthony’s School, he was not short of company on the field in the evenings when the town’s hockey enthusiasts converged.
Rama represented Perak in the Razak Cup tournament as a 17-year-old while still in school in 1970, and made his national debut in a Test series against Singapore the same year.
He moved to Selangor in 1974 before turning out for Kuala Lumpur from 1981 to 1983. He retired in 1984 after a short coaching stint with KL and as assistant national coach to the late Sidek Othman.
“I enjoyed every moment of my playing days, but had always kept a low profile since my schooldays,” said Rama, who has a daughter Ganeshree Devi, 29, who got married recently, and son Shri Ganesh, 27.
rama3
Rama, now 61, looks at his scrapbook beside the medals and trophies won during his hockey career.
“I have always preferred to stay out of the limelight and instead spend time by myself. “I gave the media a wide berth after having heard from seniors of how they had been misquoted, which landed them in trouble."
One of the unforgettable moments in his illustrious hockey career came when Malaysia defeated Holland 2-1 to qualify for the semifinals of the 1975 World Cup.
Malaysia had finished second last in his debut World Cup in 1973 and naturally, the feeling of having qualified for the semifinal was overwhelming.
The 1975 team were inducted to the Olympic Council of Malaysia Hall of Fame in 2004.
Rama started his career with Central Electricity Board (now TNB) in 1973 before he joined Rubber Research Institute as research assistant in 1974. In 1983, he joined KL City Hall as a health inspector.
In 1992, he decided to read law at Buckingham University and after three years, returned to be a legal adviser and company secretary with a private firm till he retired recently.
rama4
Rama Krishnan (seated, seventh from right) with the national hockey squad at the 1972 Munich Olympics.
Asked why he hadn't got involved at the grassroots despite his wide experience, he said the administration was not ready to accept players in their set-up.
“Somehow, ex-players are not welcomed to share their experience and contribute at the administrative level of the game," said Rama.
“Besides, I married to my wife, Kusala Kumari, after I retired and I just concentrated on building my family and career." But with free time on his hands now, he hoped to help with hockey development if the opportunity arose.
“I don't want to get into the mainstream. I'd happy to share my experience with schoolchildren or hockey academies," said Rama, who was asked to join a team set up by the Malaysian Hockey Confederation to review the national team’s pathetic World Cup performance in The Hague.
“It's not going to be a fault-finding mission but merely how we can move forward and improve Malaysian hockey.”
Rama said what's lacking in hockey today is the passion and love for the game.“No doubt the game and sports in general have moved into the a professional era, but that's all the more reason to play with your heart."

Friday, July 4, 2014

Still in the dark ages

Friday, July 04, 2014 - Malay Mail

1

ARE Malaysian sports facilities any better for all the money pumped into them over the years? I don’t think so.
On the surface, facilities seem to have improved by leaps and bounds, but there are many areas that have not kept up with the times.
I had not covered football matches for some time, but the last three months took me to a number of stadiums in the country that I used to frequent on my beat as a football writer.
While some of the stadiums have seen vast improvement in appearance with the quality of their pitches raised to international standard, there still remain the same old problems. I could not believe I was encountering them after a good 30 years of covering Malaysian football.
My bone of contention is the media facilities at most of the stadiums.
I remember the days when we used to cover matches from the sidelines of the pitches, seated on a few metal chairs placed under the blazing sun and running for cover when it rained.
There was one stadium where the media had to sit between the fans in the main stand.
They literally blew air down our necks.
We had special light stands on the table which we used to switch on when the lights in the main stand were switched off the moment the match began.
In other stadiums, we just had to find a place among the fans.
In the few stadiums that had media rooms, there were few or broken chairs most of the time with a layer of dust covering the tables and the glass windows, which we had to wipe clean to see the pitch outside. There were no phone lines, so we had to rush to public phones to read our stories to the desk back in the newsroom.
I thought I had seen the last of those days, but I felt I was in a time tunnel at the Perak Stadium last week.
It was the same old inadequate media room from the past. The only difference was that we had to share it with group of ladies, who, I later found out, were there to count the day’s ticket collection.
The room had no Internet service, but we had our mobile phones. Unfortunately, the stadium was in an area that was not served by any mobile service provider. Talk about being in the 21st century!
So I had no choice but to read my story over a land line at halftime and at the end of the game. It brought back memories of the late 1970s and early 1980s.
And to add insult to injury, a start-list was not available. When we went down to the secretariat to ask for the list, we drew a blank — they did not know what a start-list was.
Finally, we managed to get a copy that we had to share. Also, there was no media officer around as stipulated by FAM requirements.
Didn’t FAM instruct the state FAs to provide proper facilities for the media at all football venues? Maybe the Sportswriters Association of Malaysia (SAM) should take it upon itself to visit all the venues before a season starts to ensure adequately equipped media facilities are available.
Anyway, this is just the tip of the iceberg.
It is indeed embarrassing that Malaysian football, after four years of semi-professionalism from 1989 and full professionalism from 1994 — that’s two decades — still cannot overcome such basic issues.
Where does all the money allocated annually for upgrading work and hosting the Malaysia Games go?
The problem with our sporting facilities is the funds are for building and upgrading, not maintenance, which is so crucial for the upkeep of the stadiums.
It is time to remedy the situation, especially with sports in the country aiming for par excellence. If we cannot get the basics right, let’s not waste any more money or time on setting Malaysian sports on the right course.

TONY MARIADASS is a sports journalist with
more than three decades of experience and
is passionate about local sports. He can be
reached at tmariadass@gmail.com. Twitter
handle: @tmariadass

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Shah still on the cycle of life

Monday, June 30, 2014 - Malay Mail
 
SHAHARUDDIN JAFFAR, having spent a lifetime in cycling, intends to give it a final fl ing in the twilight of his years. Since starting as a schoolboy cyclist in the 1950s, he has achieved virtually everything the sport has to off er — as national coach, administrator, international commissaire, entrepreneur, event organiser and ambassador.
Cycling is Shaharuddin fi rst love. While many his age — he turns 74 on Octocber 20 — would rather take it easy, he still has the burning desire to give back to cycling.
“I have been hooked on the sport ever since I rode a normal bicycle and fi nished second in a seven-mile race in Sitiawan in 1958,” said Shaharuddin.
“Together with my wife, Hasmah Ibrahim, who is an ardent cycling supporter, we have been involved in the sport all our lives.
shah
Shaharuddin feeding the ducks at his farm. — Pictures by Mohd Izzul Elyas
One that is still fresh in his mind is how he turned around Malaysia’s fortune in the sport with just RM44.60 in the coff ers of the then Malaysian Cycling Federation when he became the secretary in 1970.
“If there is a will, there is always a way. As long as one practises honesty, strict governance and hard work.
“More often than not, things do not go well because of poor preparations and officials who are not sincere in their undertakings,” said the retired sports offi cer with the Sports Ministry.
Shaharuddin related an incident to underline his passion for cycling.
“I had opened a bicycle shop in Shah Alam in 2007 as I wanted to be associated with cycling even after my retirement. Unfortunately, I had to go for my bypass and when I came out from my surgery, the first thing I asked my wife was whether the bicycle shop was doing well,” said Shaharuddin.
Hasmah said: “I thought he was crazy talking about the shop when his health was more important.
“But that is Shaharuddin for you. He puts the sport above everything else.” Shaharuddin, however, had to close the bicycle shop after two years as some people who were helping him were not honest and his business was in the red.
Today, the couple stays in Shah Alam while their three grown-up children stay with their own families.
“I managed to turn a small plot of unused land behind the house to farm vegetables,” said Shaharuddin as he proudly showed the fruits of his labour — banana, jackfruit and lime trees and vegetables.
But his pride is the 50 ducks he is rearing for eggs.
“When my wife fell ill (diagnosed with fourth stage cancer in 2011), I was told by the doctor that a place with serenity will be good therapy for her.
“I decided to set up this small gardening area and rear ducks. The first 30 ducklings we bought died, eaten by dogs or went missing.
We then bought another 30 of which half survived. Wiser from experience, we bought another 30 and now have about 50 full-grown ducks.”
Shaharuddin said he collects about 40 eggs daily which he sells for some extra income.
“It is not so much the income, but as a hobby and therapy for my wife. We spend at least two to three hours in the morning and evening at the pond,” said Shaharuddin.
And as the couple spends time by the pond, they cannot help thinking about how they can get back to the sport they love.

ROLL OF HONOUR
# National cyclist: 1957-1970
# Asian Games bronze medalist (team) 1962, Jakarta
# Bronze medalist Asia cycling championships, Kuala Lumpur 1963
# First gold and bronze medalist for cycling
 # Competed in: Commonwealth Games in Perth, 1962, SEAP Games and Asia cycling championships 1961.1969
# Olympic Games (Tokyo 1964) as cyclist and as team manager (1972 Munich)
# Qualified as the first Malaysian international cycling commissaire 1973 and officiated at meets from 1973 to 2006
# Malaysian Cycling Federation secretary: 1970.1988
# Coach of Selangor and national team: 1969-1984
# Inducted to the Olympic Council of Malaysia Hall of Fame in 2007


ICONS FROM THE PAST
SATURDAY
JUNE 28, 2014  The Malay Mail



By TONY MARIADASS

SHAHARUDDIN JAFFAR, having spent a lifetime in cycling, intends to give it a final
fling in the twilight of his years.
Since starting as a schoolboy cyclist in the 1950s, he has achieved virtually everything
the sport has to offer — as national coach, administrator, international commissaire,
entrepreneur, event organiser and ambassador.
Cycling is Shaharuddin first love. While many his age — he turns 74 on October
20 — would rather take it easy, he still has the burning desire to give back to cycling.
“I have been hooked on the sport ever since I rode a normal bicycle and finished
second in a seven-mile race in Sitiawan in 1958,” said Shaharuddin.
“Together with my wife, Hasmah Ibrahim, who is an ardent cycling supporter, we
have been involved in the sport all our lives.
“Yes, the sport has come a long way since the early days, but it still has tremendous
potential and the young talent has not been tapped fully.”
Shaharudin won a gold medal in the 800m sprint and silver in the 1,600m sprint
at the SEAP Games held in Kuala Lumpur in 1965 — cycling’s first medals at the Games.
He plans to introduce cycling to schools and conduct competitions throughout the
country.
“I am more than able to give ideas and even organise it, but I need someone who
is reliable to work with, someone to come up with the working paper, raise funds and
knock on the doors of bureaucrats.”
He emphasised that participating in races is part of the training programme at the
grassroots.
Shaharuddin, who underwent a by-pass in 2008, is not afraid of challenges because
he has done so many impossible things in cycling.
One that is still fresh in his mind is how he turned around Malaysia’s fortune in the
sport with just RM44.60 in the coffers of the then Malaysian Cycling Federation when he
became the secretary in 1970.
“If there is a will, there is always a way. As long as one practises honesty, strict governance
and hard work.
“More often than not, things do not go well because of poor preparations and officials who are not sincere in their undertakings,” said the retired sports officer with the
Sports Ministry.
Shaharuddin related an incident to underline his passion for cycling.
“I had opened a bicycle shop in Shah Alam in 2007 as I wanted to be associated with
cycling even after my retirement. Unfortunately, I had to go for my bypass and when
I came out from my surgery, the first thing I asked my wife was whether the bicycle shop
was doing well,” said Shaharuddin.
Hasmah said: “I thought he was crazy talking about the shop when his health was
more important.
“But that is Shaharuddin for you. He puts the sport above everything else.”
Shaharuddin, however, had to close the bicycle shop after two years as some people
who were helping him were not honest and his business was in the red.
Today, the couple stays in Shah Alam while their three grown-up children stay
with their own families.
“I managed to turn a small plot of unused land behind the house to farm vegetables,”
said Shaharuddin as he proudly showed the fruits of his labour — banana, jackfruit and
lime trees and vegetables.
But his pride is the 50 ducks he is rearing for eggs.
“When my wife fell ill (diagnosed with fourth stage cancer in 2011), I was told by
the doctor that a place with serenity will be good therapy for her.
“I decided to set up this small gardening area and rear ducks. The first 30 ducklings
we bought died, eaten by dogs or went missing.
We then bought another 30 of which half survived. Wiser from experience, we
bought another 30 and now have about 50 full-grown ducks.”
Shaharuddin said he collects about 40 eggs daily which he sells for some extra income.
“It is not so much the income, but as a hobby and therapy for my
wife. We spend at least two to three hours in the morning and evening at the pond,” said Shaharuddin.
And as the couple spends time by the pond, they cannot help
thinking about how they can get back to the sport they love.

ROLL OF HONOUR
● National cyclist: 1957-1970
● Asian Games bronze medallist (team)
1962, Jakarta
● Bronze medallist Asia cycling championships,
Kuala Lumpur 1963
● First gold and bronze medallist for cycling
Shaharuddin with his gold and silver medals from the 1965 SEAP Games.
● Competed in: Commonwealth Games in
Perth, 1962, SEAP Games and Asia cycling
championships 1961–1969
● Olympic Games (Tokyo 1964) as cyclist
and as team manager (1972 Munich)
● Qualified as the fi rst Malaysian international
cycling commissaire 1973 and officiated
at meets from 1973 to 2006
● Malaysian Cycling Federation secretary:
1970–1988
● Coach of Selangor and national team:
1969-1984
● Inducted to the Olympic Council of Malaysia
Hall of Fame in 2007


Second-best got rewarded

Friday, June 27, 2014 - The Malay Mail
tony
IT has happened! The Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) has rewarded the national team who lost the Thomas Cup final to Japan.
I had said in this column four weeks ago (Stop hailing second-best performances) that it would be a joke if the players were rewarded.
And last week BAM gave each player RM25,000 as part of their incentive scheme. It may not be a big amount to the association, but to many sportsmen and women, RM25,000 is substantial and should be hard-won.
So today BAM rewards the team for finishing second to Japan — which reached the Thomas Cup for the first time. Will it then reward the team if they finished second to the Philippines or Timor Leste in future?
What kind of standard is BAM setting?
These badminton players are professionals who earn wages. All their travelling expenses and accommodation are taken care of by BAM. On top of that, they get allowances.
And in open tournaments, they keep all their winnings.
I am not against rewarding, but it must be for excellence.
It is not as if we had never reached the Thomas Cup final before — the last time was in 2002.
We have won the Cup five times. How does finishing second to Japan make it special?
Even if BAM had a lot of money and wanted to reward the players for their efforts, it could have come up with a better formula.
It could have rewarded the players based on the number of matches they won.
How can a winner and a loser be given the same amount although it is a team event? Players should be accountable for their individual performances too.
But as long as we continue to give handouts, this culture is going to be detrimental to the progress of sports.
Maybe, BAM should consider starting a retirement fund for the players and contributing money to it. That would definitely be the better idea.
And if it really wants to show the players its appreciation, BAM should just give the players some pocket money, maybe RM5,000 each.
The coaches were excluded from the rewards’ list.
BAM president Tengku Tan Sri Mahaleel Tengku Arif’s statement that he did not want to set a precedent by rewarding the coaches is indeed puzzling.
He said: ‘As for the coaches, they are under contract and we will consider come bonus time. We do not want to set a precedent by rewarding them this time.”
Aren’t the players under contract as well?
If the coaches are paid bonuses, why not extend the same to the players? Why accord them special treatment? Didn’t the coaches play a role in taking Malaysia to the final?
It is rewards for second-best achievements that is spoiling our athletes and making them complacent. But now that the rewards have been given out, it will be impossible to withdraw them.
It would be generous of the players if they decided to share their rewards with their coaches, though. They could give RM10,000 each to be pooled and divided among the coaches.
But will that happen? The players should make it happen and show that they care about and stand by their coaches.
Tony Mariadass is a sports journalist with more than three decades of experience and is passionate about local sports. He can be reached at tmariadass@ gmail.com. Twitter handle: @tmariadass