Friday, October 21, 2005

Need for a strong set-up (21/10/2005 - The Malay Mail)

Publication : MM
Date : 21/10/2005
Headline : Need for a strong set-up

THE FA of Malaysia (FAM) may be open to proposals on improving the
quality of the game and strengthening the national team, but they must
draw up a policy that will point Malaysian soccer in the right direction.
Heeding proposals from the various quarters is good, but this has been
done in the past. And more often than not, like all seminars and
workshops held by various sports organisations, they bore little fruit.
FAM, as guardians of the game, should know better after all these years
- what it takes to get the game kicking to lift it to a decent level the
country can be proud of.
There have been numerous overseas study trips, with talks given by
experienced and foreign soccer administrators on how to raise the
standard of the game and, above all, to run it in a professional manner.
But again, all the notes and information seem to be stored away in FAM.
It does not take a rocket scientist to provide the answers for a
healthy soccer environment because like everything else, a well-planned
permanent infrastructure is all that is needed.
Sad to say that for the years of soccer behind most State FAs and the
game itself here having gone semi-pro in 1989 and professional since
1994, the set-up is still amateurish in many aspects.
Any football structure basically has six major components:
* THE policy makers/decision-makers - executives;
* ADMINISTRATIVE - daily functioning of the club and ensuring smooth
operations with professional staff;
* THE infrastructure - facilities (stadium, training grounds,
gymnasiumS, hydro-treatment facilities, medical room, recreation
facilities, administrative block, etc);
* TECHNICAL - the football/ game people/development;
* MEDICAL - doctors, physiotherapists; and
* ANCILLARY - support staff, vital necessities (often manual labour).
While most of the Malaysian organisations meet a number of components,
such as having a policy maker, administrative staff and ancillary, a
majority lacks the basic facility: the infrastructure.
Many State teams are known to train and play at the same venue.
Even the administrative staff of many State associations are
part-timers or personnel who do not have a good grasp of the game.
Almost all State associations do not have professional personnel to
manage the various aspects of administration - such as an accountant,
commercial/ marketing manager or a media director.
Then most of the teams hardly do any development work and the only work
they call "development" is managing the Under-18 (Youth Cup) and Under-20
(President's Cup) sides for a specific period.
Those countries, whose soccer is at world-class level, all have youth
teams of age groups from as young as under eight years old to Reserve
League Under-21 sides. And these teams train all-year round.
They also have full-time technical staff, specialised coaches, fitness
experts, equipment steward. scouts, full-time youth development officers
and managers.
But in Malaysia, these are non-existent as the State teams only seem to
be harping on the M-League.
Only when the foundation is laid for proper soccer development to take
place and a conducive environment for the game to grow can we expect not
only to see results, but also continuous growth as new talent will always
be unearthed.
This will ensure the competitiveness of the local league, as young
footballers would have been brought up in such a high-intensity
environment. And the situation will only improve as these footballers
make progress.
It is no secret the strength of national teams is drawn from how
established the domestic league and soccer structure in their respective
countries are.
And the sooner FAM take the bold move - that all State FAs have the
complete infrastructure to be involved in the game, failing which they
would not come under their jurisdiction - the faster Malaysian soccer can
Though there will be no overnight results, FAM can look forward to
something significant, say in eight to 10 years' time.
The truth always hurts and the longer we run away from it, the longer
Malaysian soccer is going to remain in the rut.
Cosmetic changes to Malaysian soccer are not going to help, and it is
time for FAM to take the first move of being cruel to be kind.

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