Passion and comradeship was written all over the inaugural International Football Club (IFC) Ruby Nines tournament over the weekend at Club Aman.
Veteran football teams and clubs are actually mushrooming fast these days and so are tournaments, throughout Malaysia.
And each time a tournament is organised, teams flock to compete. While many of these teams are just social teams, but many of them boast of ex-international players, who make every tournament exciting and interesting.
In fact, many of these teams compete in overseas tournaments which is also rising in numbers and many international teams also come to Malaysia to make tournaments even more glamorous.
The IFC tournament was no different. Ten teams competed including host IFC. The international team for this tournament was from Singapore, led by striker K. Kannan.
Among the ex-international players who competed in the tournament include Ho Hon Seong, Khan Hung Meng, A. Jayakanthan, Kamarulzaman Yusof and M. Kalimuthu to name a few.
But the presence of other ex-internationals either at the matches or at the Victory Dinner on Saturday night, underlined that the passion and comradeship was still very much alight.
Among the ex-internationals who made their presence were Datuk Soh Chin, Santokh Singh, Chow Kwai Lam, Wong Choon Wah, Loi Lun Teck, Yip Chee Keong, Chow Siew Yai and Yap Kam Choon.
And despite IFC, under president Datuk Douglas Webster, who were organising their first tournament, it was a great success with great pains taken to look into the most minute details.
While some of the younger veteran players in their 40s were still very competitive, the organisers in wanting ensure that all competed in the true spirit of sportsmanship and comradeship, they introduced the "SIN BIN", where players who were flashed a yellow card in the game, had to sit out the match for two minutes to cool off.
"We wanted every one to have fun and enjoy the game. Introducing the "SIN BIN" was our clear message to teams that we placed sportsmanship as our highest priority and did not want to see any untoward incidents in a veteran tournament," said Douglas, a Newcastle born who arrived in Malaysia 44 years ago to work with Malaysian International Shipping Corporation (MISC).
Indeed, the tournament was played at the highest level of sportsmanship and it was a delight to watch the ex-internationals, former State players or just the socials players, display their skills and playing tactics.
Organising committee chairman, Steve Krupa and his team, certainly got the thumbs for the club's first ever tournament.
And the teams who competed, each had a story behind them, which made the event more interesting.
Wednesday FC started as a group of players wanting to see weekend action in 2005. But they ended up playing matches on different days of the week. In 2006, they saw a steady stream of regular players and they had to give the team a name. While initially they wanted to lay weekend matches, the players decided that mid-week was
IFC has an even more interesting history. The club was first registered in 1969 by a Group of German expatriates and it was originally named The German Football Club of Kuala Lumpur. The club's first registered address was the German Embassy and the first President was the Embassy's First Secretary.
IFC president, Dato' Douglas Webster presenting the IRC Ruby Nines Challenge Trophy to Wednesday FC representative at the Victory Dinner.
The team then only had eleven players. In one of their friendly matches against MISC - where current IFC president Douglas was working for - he collided with the German team's captain who suffered a fractured arm.
Two weeks later at the Merlin Hotel (now Concorde) bar, the German team captain with his arm in cast spotted Douglas there too. He started cursing and swearing at Douglas and then approached him and forced him to play for the German team in their next friendly match as they only had 10 players left! Douglas joined them in the match as the first Englishman in the team. Gradually the founding members left Malaysia and the club opened the doors again to other than Germans to become an international team - thus the change of name to IFC. Douglas, 65, who set up his own companies - Malaysian Maritime Sdn Bhd and MMS (Insurance Brokers) Sdn Bhd in 1981, eventually became the president of IFC in 1975 and has been for 34 years now.
The club's early years saw an influx of talented players, many through the introduction of former national coach Karl Heinz Weigang (below). Through his influence the club had several past and present International State players playing. This association with the national and state players has been maintained presently by vice-president Vinn Kiriwan, through his sports equipment company association and also current coach and captain, Ho Hon Seong.
Like many of the social clubs, IFC do not have a club house or a permanent playing field. But their very existence for 40 years, certainly underlines the dedication and passion for the game and club.
Another team which competed and has an interesting background is Malaysian Grasshopers who have been around since 1993 for German speaking expatriates. The others who competed were Royal Selangor Club, Kilat Veteran KL,Maxis Sports & Recreation Club, Kwong Yik Bank, SAAGA FC from Seremban and Jolli Lads Nines.