THE National Under-20 soccer team is to come under the National Sports Council (NSC), as a long-term plan to build formidable national team.
Infact, a MoU between NSC and the FA of Malaysia has already been signed have already been signed early this month.
And on Tuesday, the Cabinet Committee for Sports headed by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Seri Tun Razak, further affirmed the status of the National Under-20 team when he instructed that the National Sports Council (NSC) immediately take charge of the team both on the financial aspect and training.
The Under-20 team coached by K. Rajagopal is seen as the hope for future of the sports.
However, there is more to than the eye meets in this delicate situation.
While the move to take charge of the National Under-20 is noble, where all assistance will be taken care of by the Government, but there are too many technicalities which are involved which will throw plan in disarray.
For starters, the FA of Malaysia affiliates (State FAs), who have players in the Under-20 who are contracted to them, will be up in arms, as they no longer can use the services of these players in the domestic league – immediately the Malaysia Cup competition.
Secondly, the Under-20 players who already have contracts with the State FAs will be reluctant to severe ties with their employers as they would definitely be getting more than what NSC will be paying them monthly.
Then, there is the issue of governance of the team because if NSC manages the team, FA of Malaysia could run foul of allowing Government interference, which FIFA, does not condone and will not recognise Malaysia football.
Of course there are ways to work around it with FA of Malaysia still being involved with the team, to keep everything above board.
Lastly, with the Asian Youth championship just around the corner in India, anything drastic changes mid-stream with a team which has been shaping up well, could prove disastrous.
However, while both FA of Malaysia and NSC having in principle agreed on the “marriage” in the best interest of soccer in the country, there is always a common path which can be taken.
In this context, both FA of Malaysia and NSC are expected to sit down and trash out the finer details so that this program is not derailed.
Without doubt the Government is serious about sports and thus their involvement.
The fact that a Sports Cabinet had been set up and chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Seri Tun Razak, himself, underlines the seriousness of the Government to see sports in general excel in the world arena.
At the Sports Cabinet meeting on Tuesday morning, several other decisions were also taken and the decision to introduce the National Coaching Scheme, was another step which takes Malaysian sports to another level.
Gone are the days when coaches were no recognized, or sports did not offer a career to athletes.
With the introduction of the Scheme, which was presented by the National Coaching Board, coaching can now become a career.
And coaches will also get the opportunity to upgrade themselves with knowledge and the more they gain, the better remunerations they will get.
And it is not just the fulltime coaches who benefit from this scheme, but also the many part-time coaches who do a lot of development work, but are more often than not recognised or remunerated.
With more qualified and satisfied coached in place, it is hoped that the overall standard of sports will rise at a fast level for the nation to attain success at the Asian and World level in the near future.
The elite training centre in Hertfordshire, near London, which is operational from yesterday (Thursday – June 22), is another milestone for Malaysian sports, where an opportunity has been created for Malaysian athletes to be based and train overseas where they will be exposed to high level training and competition.
Squash will be the first to utilise the facility and followed by the Under-20 team next in line.
Sports in the country have never had so good and if only the returns equate with the money spent, it will all be a dream come true for the nation.