Publication : MM
Date : 27/08/1999
Headline : Time to make them amateurs again!
IF they can't behave like professionals, they might as well be amateurs.
And that could be the best way for Malaysian soccer to improve.
Sadly, it has been a decade of discontent since the game went
professional - from Semi-Pro (1989 to 1995) to fully professional in 1996.
The cause? A lack of professionalism, from both the players and
While State FAs are still very much amateurish in their administration
and management of teams, the players themselves hardly have a clue about
plying their trade properly.
Until and when officials and players are "professionalism-compliant", it
is pointless to have a professional league.
The very fact that the State FAs are still heavily subsidised by FAM and
can't stand on their own reflects the state of the sport in this country.
The fat pay that the players are getting just does not commensurate with
their efforts on the field, which more often than not, do not measure up
Players, these days, just do not know the meaning of "sacrifice" and
"hardwork" as they overnight, earn more than a graduate's and in some
instances, more than a doctor's.
Take the example of Pahang's rising star, midfielder Mohammad Fadzli
Shaari. He turned down an offer not only to play soccer in Germany but
also an opportunity to further his studies, citing loneliness. What is
loneliness compared to a bright future ahead? It all boils down to making
Nowadays, players have the audacity to complain about being overworked
and tired from two competitive matches a week, and that too travelling by
At most, the so called professional player puts in only about 18 to 20
hours of work, including training, in a week. For that, they get anything
from RM2,000 to RM12,000 a month.
In comparison, a bank clerk has to put in a minimum of about 40 hours a
week to earn RM2,000. A sports journalist, with 20 years of service, only
earns RM3,000 a month.
But can we blame the players when basically, they are not educated on
Ask Santokh Singh, Soh Chin Aun or current Selangor coach K. Rajagopal
what it was like playing soccer in their era and they would all say it was
just pure passion for the game and sacrifices.
They held 9 to 5 jobs and only played soccer after their working hours -
be it for club, State or nation. They did it because of their love for the
game, no money involved.
The difference between them and the present generation of players was
that Santokh and company learnt about time management, along with it, the
sacrifices and hunger.
When FAM decided that foreign players would not be allowed to compete in
the M-League this season, many described the decision as taking a few
But it seems the right thing to do - if the discovery of a veritable
number of talents this season is anything to go by. In the absence of
foreign stars, they got the break and shone.
All things considered, the idea of going back to the amateur era seems
Talking about sacrifices and determination, look at Lim Teong Kim and
Fandi Ahmad. Teong Kim journeyed to Germany, all alone, didn't know about
the language, unused to the food and culture of the land. Yet, he returned
speaking German, having made a name for himself, both as a player and
coach, in Franz Beckenbauer's country.
Fandi, despite having blessed with great skills, continued to work hard
and make sacrifices. He was really disciplined and for his efforts all
these years, he is now a millionaire.
Nonetheless, the next generation of players have given us hope. But the
code of professionalism has to be instilled in them. And for Malaysian
soccer to go forward, our game must go "backward".