The Cabinet has agreed in principle to set up a fund for football development at the grassroots level as mooted by the Youth and Sports Ministry, said its minister Datuk Ahmad Shabery Cheek.
He said the fund, which would be managed by a board of trustees with an initial capital outlay of about RM50 million to RM60 million, was expected to start operations early next year. (Read the Bernama's report here)
I am sure each one will be interpreting this announcement differently.
But before every Ali, Ah Chong and Alagapa, come up with a masterstroke development programme to be implemented and seeks funds, I just have this to say:
Grassroot development is in schools, period!
If any funds is to be given out, it should be to the Education Ministry, who should distribute it fairly and equally to all schools to run a master development programme drawn up by the FA of Malaysia with the assistance of Asian Football Confederation or FIFA.
But before anything is done, the Education Ministry must make it a policy for sports to exist in all schools and at least two hours should be allocated each week as apposed to the current two periods of forty minutes each for Physical Education, but with one period for classroom Health Education.
They also need to immediately spend money to upgrade all the schools fields which are in deplorable conditions and more importantly the money should be allocated to maintain it.
For schools who do not have fields, efforts must be made for them to use nearby residential parks, which also should be upgraded and maintained.
Teachers dedicated specially for sports and soccer should be hired and if there is a shortage for sports teachers, get ex-internationals with coaching badges to coach the schools.
Revise the schools soccer calendar where it is just played for three months and by the first month more than 80% of the schools would have dropped out of the competition.
Ensure that there is a schools soccer league in every district in every State, so that schools teams are coached and play competitive matches for at least six to seven months in a year.
Ensure that there is talent scouts who comb the length and breath of Malaysia to go to all schools to identify the better players for a more comprehensive programme during the November- December schools holidays.
Have the State FAs working closely with the schools to provide the technical assistance if needed.
When this is in place, maybe then, through the Ministry of Women, Family & Community, a kids training programme over weekends can be started at every housing estate in collaboration with the Resident's Association.
Let the schools and the rakyat themselves, be involved in the reviving of soccer in the country.
Forget about all the coaching schools, individuals and anyone else who is thinking of making a fast buck, who will be lining up with the programmes. All of them, will only be interested in making money.
If there is a need to support existing kids programme, identify them with a fine comb and only assist those who have been sincere and their programmes having made some form of impact.
The last thing to do is to give any money to the State FAs to conduct any programmes. It has been tried and failed over and over.
I am sure the big wigs, the soccer gurus and even the National Sports Council (NSC) will have better and more brilliant ideas, but please do not leave out the schools.
Malaysian soccer and sports in general, is what it is today because we neglected the schools. PERIOD!