Friday, July 8, 2005

DON'T FORGET GRASSROOTS (08/07/2005 - The Malay Mail)

Publication : MM
Date : 08/07/2005

WITH the Government setting aside RM125 million for grassroots
development, it is vital the money reaches the right places and people -
the administrators and coaches - to enable them to execute their
More often than not, grassroots development has been given low priority
in terms of providing the best coaches.
It is common belief that at the grassroots, it is sufficient to have a
coach with the lowest qualification.
But the truth is the best coaches must be placed at the grassroots or
at least in charge of each programme to ensure the best is delivered to
beginners and youngsters.
It is important the national associations implement programmes that
will deliver the goods as required.
At grassroots development, the most important factor is the coach must
be able to demonstrate what he wants.
These coaches must also have an eye to spot talent as many budding
athletes have been lost because they were not spotted and nurtured.
Patience is the name of the game at this stage as results will not be
seen overnight.
Local and foreign coaches who worked at the grassroots level in the
past have been successful although they hardly or never get a mention in
the Press.
Take for instance soccer in the 1980s.
The name Fred Binney may not ring a bell to many, but he was the Pahang
coach, taking over from fellow Englishman Frank Lord, who was an instant
success with Pahang in 1983, leading them to their first ever Malaysia
While Lord went on to the national ranks, Binney was recommended by
Lord and started work with Pahang.
The East Coast side reached their second consecutive Malaysia Cup final
in 1984 but went down to Selangor.
Binney, a former Brighton, Plymouth and Hereford player, decided to
scout for fresh talent and combed the Bentong, Mentakab, Temerloh, Raub
and Maran districts.
He spotted players like the late M. Ravindran, Abu Bakar, Hamid Ismail,
Wan Safaruddin, Azizan Idris, Borhanuddin Ismail and Fadhirul Annuar.
But Binney did not last long as Pahang lost the Malaysia Cup
quarter-finals with a "young squad".
He proved there was young talent and they must be nurtured.
Another coach is Yugoslav Marco Bilic, who was the Terengganu FA
director of development in 1992.
The former Johor, Perak and Malacca Semi-Pro League coach was signed
on by the late Datuk Mohamad Bakar Daud.
During his 1 1/2-year stint, he was actively travelling to eight
districts to not only spot talent, but also imparting the coaching
syllabus he had prepared for youths to be properly coached.
Bilic, who was involved in youth development work back home with
Sarajevo, a Division One club, before becoming their coach, certainly
left behind a legacy, as Terengganu, rose through the ranks in the coming
Among the players nurtured by Bilic were national striker Hairuddin
Omar, Rosdi Talib, Zulharisham Awang, Subri Sulong and Nafuzi Zain.
The Kuala Lumpur FA had a very good development programme in the early
1980s under S. Subramaniam and enjoyed the fruits towards the end of the
In athletics, I remember way back in 1980, when athletics coach Rennie
Martin (a teacher) involved in the Selangor Schools Camp Bakat, called me
early in the morning and told me to be at the Merdeka Stadium within 30
minutes because he believed a 15-year-old from Kuala Kubu Baru would
smashed the State record in the 1,500m.
And sure enough, minutes after I arrived on my Honda kapchai still
bleary-eyed, the athlete - B. Raj Kumar - went on to rewrite the record
with a time of 4:16.1s. The old mark of 4:17.7s was set by M. Raju in
Raj Kumar went on to become an Olympian.
Rennie had make sure that Raj Kumar, who was then coached by A.
Tripadi, was properly nurtured.
This is all part of grassroots development.
As such, coaches who are involved at the grassroots level should not be
treated as second class just because they are involved in an area which
is not glamorous and hardly hit the limelights ... because without them,
the elite coaches will not have anyone to train.

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