Monday, July 21, 2014
Tuesday, July 15, 2014
ICONS FROM THE PAST
Saturday, July 13, 2014 - The Malay Mail
By TONY MARIADASS
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.
“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.
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.”
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.
“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
That man is Lim Teong Kim, a former international who’s now technical director of the National Football Development Programme (NFDP).
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
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.
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:
Monday, July 7, 2014
Captain of the shadows
Saturday, July 05, 2014 - Malay Mail
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.
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.
“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.
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
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 email@example.com. Twitter