Saturday, February 25, 2006

Negri FA's kickstart (24/02/2006 - The Malay Mail)

Publication : MM
Date : 24/02/2006
Headline : Negri FA's kickstart

KUDOS to the Negri Sembilan FA (NSFA) for showing the way for other State
FAS in the development of soccer in the country.
For far too long, there has only been talk about soccer at State FA
level, but nothing concrete had been done, despite financial allocations
from the national body - FA of Malaysia (FAM).
But last week, NSFA launched their development programme for those aged
between seven and 12, with a call for registration.
NSFA secretary Abd Halim Abd Latif said the programme, which officially
kicks off next weekend, will initially be confined to Seremban.
"But we plan to gradually conduct similar weekend coaching programmes
in all the districts in Negri," said Abd Halim.
K. Dharmarajasingam, who is the director of development, will be in
charge of the programme.
It is good to note that a man with vast experience and passion for the
game - he was a former national referee, managed the NS Chempaka team and
an active member of the NSFA - is at the helm as he will devote himself
to the programme.
The programme will cost NSFA about RM30,000 annually, with the money
coming from FAM's allocation for development.
Finally, we have a State serious about development at grassroots level
and whatever money spent, one can rest assured it will be put to good
use, with the the returns guaranteed in folds in years to come.
Kuala Lumpur FA used to have a similar programme in the 1980s when Tan
Sri Elyas Omar (above) was their president and despite it being a
tremendous success, it was stopped - to everyone's surprise.
FAM should seriously consider making it compulsory for all State FAs to
conduct similar programmes which should be run all-year round - and to
withhold their development grants if these programmes are not in place.
At the moment, most States' so-called "contributions" to the
development of the game are only managing the Academy teams (Under-16),
Youth Cup (Under-19) and President's Cup (Under-21) sides, held for only
six months in a year.
State FAs should take a look at the Royal Selangor Club (RSC) soccer
development programme initiated in February 2002.
It is said to be one of the best development programmes in place, which
sees some 280 children (aged seven to 18) training every Sunday evening
at the RSC grounds in Bukit Kiara, under the supervision of
fully-qualified coaches.
In addition, the children also take part in local and international
tournaments from time to time.
Fees for the programme are minimal, unlike many similar private
programmes mushroo- ming around the country as business ventures, where
their monthly charges can be as high as RM400 per child.
But at RSC, members' children pay RM50 while it's RM60 for others.
And on this note, NSFA again must be commended for keeping the fees to
a minimum, so that everyone can learn to play football the right way from
They are only charging RM70 as an initial fee, which is for a set of
jerseys, shorts, socks and a size four ball. The monthly fee is only RM20.
And if there are any kids who cannot afford the initial fees and the
monthly subscription, NSFA are prepared to look into their cases on an
individual basis.
"Our idea is to get everyone interested in the game playing from a
young age so that they will have some form of formal training before
entering secondary school. If there are poor kids out there keen on the
coaching programme, we will consider sponsoring them," said Abd Halim.
RSC spend about RM11,000 per month on their programme, with a chunk of
it going towards coaches' salaries, and it is self-sufficient from the
fees collected.
RSC have qualified coaches - mostly FAM 'A' or 'B' licensed coaches -
and they pay them well and even reward them with bonuses for full
attendance every month. This ensures the coaches are dedicated and
committed to the programme.
One wonders why the State FAs cannot emulate RSC, especially when they
have all the resources?
In fact, State FAs can do even more for development and go a step
further by organising schools leagues, to ensure footballers in schools
play the game for longer than three to four months a year.
NSFA have started the ball rolling with their development programme and
it is hoped other State FAs will follow suit for the sake of the game in
the country.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Elite sport no more (17/02/2006 - The Malay Mail)

Publication : MM
Date : 17/02/2006
Headline : Elite sport no more

SAILING is considered a luxury sport for the rich and famous.
But unlike most countries, where sailing is only confined to the elite
few, the sport is getting a lot of Government attention in Malaysia.
And Malaysian youths can consider themselves lucky that they can
experience the sport at a tender age.
This can offer interested parties an alternative base to kick-start a
career in the boating industry, en route to becoming top sailors and
Today's youths are becoming increasingly hemmed in by the pressures of
urban life, with sports often limited to those schools which can
accommodate them in shrinking grounds.
As such, sailing offers opportunities for them to enjoy a competitive
outdoor sport and indulge in a recreational activity that tests their
skills and agility.
And with an increasing number of yachts being based around Malaysia,
due to the country's progressive policies in promoting marine tourism,
yacht owners are constantly seeking to employ crew members.
Regattas are becoming popular in Malaysia and the Royal Langkawi
International Regatta (RLIR), which ended yesterday, is fast growing in
reputation, while the Raja Muda Regatta has been the sport's pioneer here.
While top-class yachts and sailors make their presence felt each year,
promoters have not forgotten their responsibility in developing the
sport, with the inclusion of youth categories which see a growing number
of local competitors.
And more foreign sailors are also joining forces with their local
counterparts, lending recognition to the latter's talent. This is a
healthy sign for the development of the sport, as locals gain first-hand
experience with world-class sailors.
The Royal Selangor Yacht Club, who have been serious about developing
the sport, are setting up a regular youth training programme in Port
Klang under the supervision of a senior coach from England, besides
regularly entering their young members for regattas in the region.
In the past, Malaysian sailing depended on the Royal Malaysian Navy
(RMN) to develop the sport.
But now with moree States taking up the sport seriously, it is only a
matter of time before Malaysians stamp their mark internationally.
Unlike the past, where it was the norm for children of RMN staff to
become national sailors, the scenario has changed where just about anyone
can take up the sport.
And with the RM7 million National Sailing Centre set to open in
Langkawi at the end of next month - the effort of the Malaysian Yachting
Association in collaboration with the National Sports Council - it is
without doubt the sport is being pushed to higher standards.
Clubs like Royal Langkawi Yacht Club (RLYC), Royal Selangor Yacht Club
and Port Dickson Yacht Club need to be commended for their efforts in
developing the sport, instead of just catering for the well-to-do.
RLYC Commodore Tunku Tan Sri Abdullah Tuanku Abdul Rahman must be
commended for his vision in initiating the Langkawi Regatta while also
offering modern and world-class facilities to ensure its smooth running.
The RLYC are a full-service yachting haven with the finery of a
prestigious club and all the pleasures of a resort.
The 205-berth marina can accommodate up to 60m mega-yachts, making it
Malaysia's premier marina.
Tunku Abdullah believes the Regatta will unearth young talent.
"It is my hope the RLIR will continue to be a magnet not only for
world-class sailors, but also young aspirants, of whom many may someday
be world-class sailors," said Tunku Abdullah.
And kudos to RLYC general manager, Wicky Sundram, and his team of
Shamala, Noddy, Valerie and Suhani, for going all out to promote the
event through the electronic and print media.
Wicky's team showered the medial personnel with so much pampering and
attention that it was embarrassing at times.
They arranged for boats to take the media out to sea for a close look
at the race. However, while everyone enjoyed it, it was sad some media
members abused the hospitality, making it a true embarrassment for their
But the bottomline was the seriousness by Wicky's team to do their best
in promoting the sport, in order to get the maximum publicity.
One must also not forget RLYC Rear Commodore Tunku Soraya Dakhlah, RLIR
organising chairperson, and her working committee as they too deserve
pats on the backs for their superb organisation.
Whatever notions I had that sailing was only for the rich, famous and
select few, have certainly been dispelled at the end of the regatta.
And I'm looking forward to the next edition!

Saturday, February 11, 2006

The good, the bad and the ugly (10/02/2006 - The Malay Mail)

Publication : MM
Date : 10/02/2006
Headline : The good, the bad and the ugly

THERE has been quite a bit happening in the sports scene this week and to
ensure that at least the major ones gets addressed, I have decided to
categorise them 'the Good, the Bad and the Ugly.'
To start with the good, nothing was sweeter then the announcement by
Education Minister, Datuk Seri Hishamuddin Hussein his Ministry is dead
serious in developing sports and has given the two sports schools (Bukit
Jaili Sports School and Bandar Penawar Sports School) 15 years to
establish themselves as world renowned sports schools.
In line with the vision, Hishamuddin established a Sports Advisory
Panel headed by former National Sports Council director-general - Datuk
Wira Mazlan Ahmad - whose sole aim is to accomplish the vision.
It is hoped the panel will do some serious work and ensure the vision
is realised.
This panel must be action orientated and hands-on. They have to be
involved in planning and implementations of the projects.
It is not all about having more coaches in the respective sports, but
more facilities likes fields, tracks, gymnasiums, courts and halls.
It is not only the two sports schools they must be paying attention too.
The idea would to be to ensure that sports development gets equal
emphasis throughout the country and all schools.
The government have approved RM10 million through Sports Cabinet
Committee for the development of sports through schools with the first
payment made at the end of last year.
Fifteen schools, who were also the State school sports centres,
benefited with a grant worth RM585,000 each.
How well the money was spent is not known, but it is hoped that the
Panel ensure the grants are put to good use.
The bad is the issue surrounding bowler Shalin Zulkifli who has said
she does not want to represent the nation anymore but is available for
the Doha Asian Games.
The Sports Minister, Datuk Azalina Othman Said, has come forward to say
she will meet Shalin and Malaysian Tenpin Bowling Congress (MTBC) next
week, probably to get to the bottom of the issue.
But if it is to coax Shalin to return to the team or ask MTBC to bend
the rules set by the National Sports Council (NSC) with their contracts
for the athletes, to accommodate Shalin, it will certainly be sending
wrong signals to athletes in the country.
Sometimes, many are clouded by the issue and make statements without
weighing the matter.
No one denies Shalin has brought honour to the nation since
representing the nation at the age of 14.
She has reaped more than a million ringgit through the game, attained a
degree, had a bankruptcy charge withdrawn and her international passport
returned because she was a national bowler and even had allowances made
to carry the name of the bank who charged her with the bankruptcy on her
attire whenever she bowled.
While she has been hailed the queen of bowling for her exploits, she
has time and again failed to deliver when it matters most in individual
She has competed in the AMF World Cup seven times, the World Ranking
Masters five times and the World Championship four times but failed to
win a single title.
Now with so many youth bowlers stamping their mark, is it time to move
Esther Cheah won the World Championship individual title in her debut
attempt last year.
Shalin cannot dictate which coach she wants to trains under.
Besides, if she is interested in a coaching career, she should pursue
it and stick by her decision not to don national colours.
If she wants in into the national team, then she has to adhere to rules
set for all.
The ugly must surely be FA of Malaysia's appeals board chairman, Datuk
Seri Abdul Shukor's, statement in relation to Perak skipper Ahmad Sharul
Azhar's successful appeal against his earlier one-year ban by the
disciplinary board for misconduct in a Super League match.
Sharul was found guilty of two offences - elbowing an MPPJ player and
confronting match officials.
Abdul Shukor's statement: "We found that Ahmad confronted the match
officials but he was not violent towards them. Tapping the chest of the
match official is not considered as violent."
FIFA rule is very clear about violent conduct against match officials
where even laying a finger on them or even pointing a finger menacingly
at them, is considered violent conduct.
How Shukor came to the conclusion that Ahmad's actions were not violent
is baffling to say the least.
Maybe he wants to see a match official knocked out before he considers
it violent enough.
It is officials like Shukor, who do not have a clue of the game, who
make a mockery of football, turning it to a battle field and letting
loose players who have no respect for the rules.

Saturday, February 4, 2006

It's sad when athletes turn to drugs (03/02/2006 - The Malay Mail)

Publication : MM
Date : 03/02/2006
Headline : It's sad when athletes turn to drugs

DRUG ABUSE is a social ill in the country, but the government are going
everything possible to eradicate it.
But when drug-abuse surfaces in sports, which is the very agent
recognised globally as a means to move away from drugs, it is alarming.
In Malaysia, drug abuse among sportsmen and women is not rampant, but
there have been enough cases in recent years to send a warning sign that
this problem has to stopped in it's infancy.
It has been said that social and personal skills combined, sports can
be an effective medium to intervene in a person's decision to abuse or
not to abuse drugs.
However, it has also been acknowledged that participation in sports
does not inherently lead to a drug-free lifestyle, but well-designed
sports programmes, run by skilled and credible coordinators, help reduce
high-risk behaviours.
This is especially true when the elements of sport are combined with
the structured provision of drug-related information and life-skills
This brings us to the question whether in Malaysia, enough has been
done to educate the youth public in general and sportsmen and women in
particular on the ills of drugs.
Every time a case arises of an athlete involved in drug-abuse, a lot is
said, but after a while everything is forgotten and no serious efforts to
educate the youth is done.
In Malaysia, athletes generally are well paid, especially in football
where some are known to earn between RM10,000-RM18,000.
When they have the money and luxury of time on their hands, they tend
to turn towards all sorts of entertainment, including drugs.
It is indeed sad even the young and talented have have been involved
with drugs in sports ranging from football, sepaktakraw, athletics,
weightlifting, boxing, cycling, motor-racing and bodybulding.
Tests have been carried out by the National Anti Doping Control
Programme (NADCP) on national athletes at regular intervals funded by the
Sports Ministry and run by the National Sports Council (NSC), the Olympic
Council of Malaysia (OCM) and the Malaysian Association of Doping Control
in Sports (Masdocs).
Several have failed in categories ranging from medication, inadvertent
injections and hard drugs (steroids).
Recent tests have revealed that many of those tested positive for
drug-abuse were junior level athletes and this only underlines the lack
of awareness of drug abuse among the young athletes.
Continuous tests are going to be conducted and probably more athletes
are going to be "caught" but unless the respective National Sports
Associations do their part not only in education on the ills of drug
abuse, but also provide counseling and rehabilitation programmes, the war
against drug abuse will not be over.
There has been known cases among the young who start off with
glue-sniffing and gradually graduate to drugs.
Some athletes consume banned substance in food supplements or
traditional medication unknowingly and this is education on drugs will
Then we have athletes who use hard drugs, in the sporting context while
other use it for recreational purposes.
Whatever context the drugs is used, it is against the law.
Sports has been recognised worldwide as a tool to fight not only drugs,
but generally to make the world a better place to live in.
So let us use sports to fight the ills of drugs and start educating
them from young to have a healthy and sporting society.