Friday, May 26, 2006

World Cup Showcase (2006 - Malaysian Today)

World Cup Showcase

THE world’s greatest show-piece which comes once in four years, is well underway.

The build-up to the World Cup in Germany in Malaysia has been far the best in print media, electronic media, in form of advertisements from official sponsors and of course the telcos, who are the latest to join in the fray of the promotions.

Gone are the days when the Raykat contributed to bring a live telecast match in 1982 from Spain.

Today we have all 64 matches brought live to our living room.

Everyone cash in on the World Cup and it is only hoped that for Malaysia, that the World Cup will do some good for the game.

However, the fear is that there will be more harm done than good in Malaysia by the World Cup.

The ideal scenario would be that the World Cup which witnesses top class football played, will rub-off on Malaysian soccer.

But that would be asking too much, because more often than not, it is the bad habits that are picked up.

The chances that many a marriage and relationship is wrecked, while many others become paupers or some many virtually write their life off through heavy betting, lose their cars and properties through sheer greed to make easy money and probably get sacked for being inefficient at work or worst still coming up with one too many medical leaves.

Many become overnight experts in the game and will virtually know every player, coach, manager in the World Cup, but ask to name their local state team players and they will draw a blank.

Of course, the immediate response from these “overnight experts” is that “who watches local matches and they have no standard.”

Agreed, that Malaysian soccer lacks the class and charisma of the top teams in the world, but does not charity begins at home first.

It is probably going to take many more World Cup tournaments before Malaysia can dream of a team playing in one.

Until then, we just have to contended that the Malaysians can romance the World Cup by not just watching it live on the tubes, but have Malaysian involved in key positions in the tournament.

Among the Malaysians from the soccer fraternity who are considered the best soccer brains who are in Germany include Asian Football Confederation (AFC) secretary-general, Datuk Peter Velappan and his deputy, Datuk Paul Mony Samuel, FIFA Goal Programme manager in Malaysia, Winsdor John, who has the posh job as the general co-ordinator in Berlin – the venue of World Cup final -, Lim Kim Choon (technical study group), Dr Gurcharan Singh (medical), Nazri Abdullah (referees’ coordinator), R. Indran (security), and Lazarus Rokk (Media).

But it will be nothing like seeing a Malaysian team in the World Cup!

For that to happen, the Malaysian soccer team will have first start to win the Sea Games gold they last won in 1989 in Kuala Lumpur and then eye for the Asian title – be the Asian Cup or the Asian Games – and it is no easy feat.

There is something good happening with the National Under-20 team coached by K. Rajagopal and they have been dubbed as the future of Malaysian soccer.

But with the State FAs already trying to stake claim of these players for tournaments like the Malaysia Games and Malaysia Cup, despite these players through the FA of Malaysia having signed a MoU with the National Sports Council (NSC) for the team to be adopted fulltime.

This team has potential, but guarantee is there that they will not be “spoilt” like all our present players.

Unless the FA of Malaysia keeps a tight rein on these players, another potential reality maybe just turned to ashes once again.

And while hopes are placed on this team for a brighter future, it is not going to be permanent if serious development work is done by the State FAs steadily keep the supply for young and talented players coming through the line of production.

Otherwise, our hopes of a World Cup appearance will continue to be a far-fetched dream and Malaysians will only be known as good organisers and administrators and who even have the AFC headquarters in Bukit Jalil, but still do not have the quality to make an impact in the beautiful game.

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