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.

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