MUDDY pitches fit for water buffaloes, fields with knee-high grass,
clueless referees ...
Welcome to the world of district school soccer - the nursery of
Just take a look at the state of grassroot football in the city. The
recent Bangsar District Tournament is an eye-opener for those seeking a
cure for the ills of the nation's football - and possibly sports in
Here are some of our observations:
* One match was actually played in free-for-all `kick-football' style in
soggy overgrown padang.
* At an under-12 game, not only was the field in bad shape and the lines
almost invisible, there was not even a Class 3 referee officiating but a
* The teacher-referees were mostly hazy about the rules. Every other
throw-in was a foul, there were kicking and dangerous tackles from behind,
all these without the whistle being blown. The `men-in-black' were only
there to kick off the match, blow for a goal (which was sometimes
questionable when it was offside) and end the game.
* One teacher did away with the usual togs by officiating in slippers,
rolled up track bottom and designer T-shirt while parking himself at the
* Pupils recruited as assistant referees or linesmen were often ignorant
of the rules.
It's no surprise that M-league coaches are saying they need more time
for corrections and teach players to play proper football at the highest
So what do those in position to make a change have to say? Is there hope
for a football in Malaysia?
Read next story titled:Appalling state of affairs!
SPORTS activities in schools are suffering because the facilities are
deteriorating, teachers are unqualified or uninterested and qualified
match officials under-utilised.
This is the opinion of veteran schools sports official and retired
teacher, Yap Yew Kim.
Yap, who taught for 26 years in Kuala Lumpur and was a sports co-
ordinator for soccer with the Federal Territory Schools Sports Council for
six years before retiring, said conditions are now appalling.
"If we are to produce better quality sports boys and girls in any
sports, we have to make drastic improvements in the facilities available.
"Even then, many schools have lost their playing fields in the name of
development and conditions were beginning to deteriorate," said the 60-
year-old who is still deeply involved with the FA of Malaysia's "First
Touch" coaching programme for schoolchildren.
He said the situation has worsened as he has seen schools matches played
under deplorable conditions.
"Under the circumstances, how are we going to develop these young
Yap said another reason for the drastic drop in the quality of young
players coming through the schools is because unqualified teachers are
involved in coaching at this grassroots level.
"Some of the teachers in charge of certain sports don't have the
faintest clue about sports," he said.
"Then we have teachers who are not interested in sports but are in
charge because they have been directed to do so."
He said they used to have dedicated teachers who would go out of their
way to coach in the various sports even during school holidays and
"Now we have teachers who are just waiting to get over with the
Yap said he understands that there is only so much the schools can do
and for this reason, they must seek the expertise and funds from State or
national sports associations.
"Schools should also work closely with local authorities like City Hall
in helping them to maintain playing fields," he said.
"Help will not come until we seek it. For that, we need dynamic sports
officials in schools."
He said during his tenure, there were many soccer clinics and
competitions for various age groups through collaborations with the State
"This meant that there were more matches played by the children, besides
the Sports Council programme," he said.
"How can we expect to produce talent when these schoolchildren are
involved in any particular sports for just a month or two in a year?"
He said they need year-round programmes and since the schools cannot
provide this due to the many sports they have to handle, those involved in
soccer have to work with the various sports organisations in their
Since funds are hard to come by, he said schools can benefit from their
close relationship with various sports bodies which can source the money
"Schools cannot carry out development work on their own. They have to be
closely associated with the national and State sports organisations."
Yap warned that unless something is done quickly, the future of
Malaysian sports is bleak.
He added that having a few schools of excellence in each State or around
the country is not enough.
"Schools are the factory of the future for both leaders, sportsmen and
women. Unless they are tapped to the maximum, we will end up looking for
talent by chance.
"The schools are the base and we have to get our act right if we are to
hope for a brighter future in sports."