Saturday, January 28, 2006

Kicking up a fuss over MyTeam (27/01/2006 - The Malay Mail)

Publication : MM
Date : 27/01/2006
Headline : Kicking up a fuss over MyTeam

THE MyTeam soccer programme, launched last week, has been getting a lot
of attention - both good and bad.
There are two schools of thought on this reality show, to be aired over
TV3 for 11 weeks starting on March 23 and culminating in the amateur team
(that are assembled through trials) playing the national team on May 28
at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil.
The selection process starts on Feb 18 at Dataran Bandaraya in Johor
Baru followed by other similar events in the other 12 States. The players
selected will then attend a training stint from April 10-May 27.
One school of thought feels this is a good move and a wake-up call for
the FA of Malaysia (FAM) and if successful, it will prove the national
body have not been doing their job.
This party also feels that finally, there will be some kind of talent
identification and a fair selection process with everyone having an equal
chance of vying for a spot. And above all, this programme will offer an
avenue for new players to make their mark.
While the FAM have sanctioned the programme and even allowed their
national team to be "sparring partners" in a match, the national body
have been getting a lot of flak for allowing their players to be
"degraded" in agreeing to take on an amateur team that would have only
trained for eight weeks in an official match!
This, many felt, is Malaysian soccer going to the pits.
Some questioned FAM's wisdom of being involved in a such a programme,
and others went further to ask whether FAM will sanction more matches
like these if proffered by other companies or that this was a special
one-off case.
But Jason Lo, the CEO of Maya Team Sdn Bhd, creator and promoter of
MyTeam, feels otherwise.
He said the formation of the team was not to challenge FAM, but just
offering another option to identify talent, and more importantly, to prod
the general public into talking about local soccer games.
"Much have been reported in the newspapers, television and radio about
the MyTeam playing the national team since we launched it last week. This
is something we were hoping for," said Jason.
"Whether good or bad, people are talking about local soccer. In recent
years, we have not been able to get this kind of hype for a match
involving the national team," said the the Sarawak-born Jason, who grew
up with the Ngap Sayot spirit.
While Jason seemed earnest about the project, it is former
international and soccer pundit Serbegeth Singh (above) - better known as
"Shebby" - who has stirred a hornet's nest.
Despite not having any coaching qualifications and no prior coaching
experience, Serbegeth has been appointed coach of the amateur team.
Fuelling criticism is Serbegeth's confident talk about the amateurs
beating the national team.
But Serbegeth remains unperturbed and believes his broadcasting work
involving EPL matches plays a huge part in bolstering his confidence as
he believes he has learnt a great deal and wants to apply it to game
Serbegeth is lucky that he is given this opportunity because he is
working without the actual constraints of the game - finances, pressure,
administration woes and being answerable to others.
Khairy Jamaluddin, executive producer and chairman of Maya Team Sdn Bhd
who is also an independent member of the FAM Council, concurs with Jason
on the programme sparking interest in local soccer.
But Khairy also has big visions of the programme showcasing local
talent and creating a multiplier effect that can become a catalyst for
changes in the way the game is played and governed in Malaysia - from
grassroots to the national team.
How this is going to be achieved is perplexing as, after all, this is a
reality show created mainly to entertain TV viewers.
Having handled The Malay Mail soccer team for 15 years and seeing them
progress from the KL Dunhill League to the M-League Premier Two, where
they competed from 2000-2002, I know the game's demands and rigours, its
constraints, problems, financial woes and difficulties in managing a side.
MyTeam have the luxury of not going through all this and they have a
golden path laid in front of them for a shot at the national side.
Thus, the MyTeam programme is basically a "reality show", and should be
accorded only that status and not be treated as a development programme.
It may create excitement in the local soccer fraternity, a source of
entertainment, probably unearthing a few new talents and giving an
opportunity for some to play against the national team. But what about
the future?
What happens after the programme? Is it a one-off effort or is it going
to continue? How much is Malaysian soccer going to benefit from this
exercise? Who are going to be the winners in this project? Is it a
money-making project?
Could the amount of money raised for this project through big sponsors
have been more wisely used for long-term development programmes, talent
identification projects in kampung and districts throughout the length
and breadth of Malaysia to secure a brighter future for the game?
These will be the questions asked by football-loving Malaysians as they
are kept entertained by the MyTeam act.
Maybe, after May 28, there will be some real answers forthcoming.

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