Friday, April 29, 2005

When State FAs call the shots ( 29/04/2005 - The Malay Mail)

Publication : MM
Date : 29/04/2005
Headline : When State FAs call the shots

IT'S going to be a laborious task charting the path of Malaysian soccer
for FA of Malaysia president, Sultan Ahmad Shah, on Sunday (which happens
to be Labour Day), when he presides over the association's annual general
For it is on this day the Sultan of Pahang is going to announce one of
the five shortlisted candidates from the 168 applicants for the general
secretary's post of the high-profile association.
The post, and that of the assistant general secretary's, fell vacant
when Datuk Dell Akbar Khan resigned as secretary in February. Assistant
secretary Datuk Yap Nyim Keong also decided to leave.
Another important agenda of the day expected to be discussed is the
proposal of the technical committee to have a full-time national team
managed by FAM.
More often than not, there have been talks that FAM are run solely by
the Sultan of Pahang, with the members - the affiliates - hardly having
much of a say.
FAM are always put under the microscope whenever the national team
fail. And whenever there are discussions on the standards of Malaysian
soccer, there will always be a call for a change of leadership.
In all fairness to Sultan Ahmad, it is simply amazing he has been so
patient in bearing the brunt of the criticisms, as it is the State FAs -
the affiliates - who are actually to be blamed for the declining
standards in Malaysian soccer.
And to say Sultan Ahmad calls the shots on all FAM matters is totally
untrue because he is a man who listens to all views before expressing his
opinions, and then going through the democratic process of putting them
to vote.
If the State FAs are said not to play a role in decisions made by FAM,
it is because they choose to be silent.
The Sultan has never bulldozed any decisions as he always calls for
views, seeks members' opinions and even takes into consideration those
expressed by the media or public.
Like everyone else, Sultan Ahmad certainly wants to see Malaysian
soccer on the rise again.
The problem is the State FAs have their own agendas and are the ones
responsible for the current poor state of the game.
They will voice opinions or even make collective decisions to their
Of course, the FAM Exco make the national body's major decisions, but
they still have to get the mandate from the Council, which are made up of
the affiliates' representatives.
And this is where the real power lies.
Take, for instance, the appointment of the new general secretary, when
the affiliates have made clear their stand by stating they are unhappy
the post is going to someone outside their "circle".
They have even suggested once the Sultan names the candidate, the
appointment should be for a "trial period", where they will decide
whether that person is deserving of the position.
Failing which (a possibility where the affiliates will make life
difficult for the new general secretary), they will then want to appoint
one from their own clique.
There was a case last year when the affiliates closed ranks to support
fellow members Kelantan FA and Armed Forces, who were both demoted to the
Premier Club championship (formerly known as FAM Cup) after finishing as
the last two teams in Premier Two, to remain where they were.
Only upon the insistence of a FAM independent member that rules must be
strictly adhered to and the support from the FAM deputy president, Tengku
Mahkota of Pahang, were the two teams relegated.
This was a rare occasion where the majority decision of affiliates was
vetoed - but for the right reason of upholding the very rules formulated
by the national body.
But more often than not, it is the State FAs who will have their way
when the democratic system is used merely because of their strength in
Of course, the State FAs too have done their part by vetoing some poor
decisions by the various sub-committees, when their proposals were
submitted to the Council for endorsement.
And one such decision is expected to be made on Sunday when the subject
of the national team being managed by FAM is brought up for discussion.
It is certainly going to hurt the State FAs as they will no longer have
control of the national players.
While the idea by the technical committee is noble, it is certainly not
the solution towards building a formidable national team.
The problem is the idea, as a whole, is not feasible because it is
replete with flaws.
Again, the State FAs are going to call the shots, probably this time in
the game's best interest.
But most of the time, the State FAs are the ones responsible for the
low standards of the game. And it is about time they must be bold enough
to face the music instead of hiding behind the Sultan of Pahang.
Any leader is only as strong as the foundation at the grassroots. And
in FAM's case, the affiliates - who are the grassroots - are not making
any contributions towards improving the game as most of them have always
put their own interest before the nation's.

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