Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Unique UKRC

Ulu Klang Recreation Club (UKRC) is just a small community club who are still battling to keep the land which rightly belongs to them, but bureaucracy red-tape and hidden hands has seen them go on a long drawn battle.
But that has not eroded the confidence of its club principal officers headed by president Andrew Gopal, as they still continue go about their daily routine to serve the local community with the much needed recreational facilities and a venue for social gathering.
For those familiar with UKRC, they will find that its humble settings and unpretentious existence since 1957, had not stopped members and the local community from making it a one-stop recreation centre for the whole family.
And one of the activities UKRC carry out is their International Soccer 9s annually which serves as a fund raising event to continue to add new facilities to the club.
This year it was held over last weekend, where twelve teams competed coming from Australia, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia and local teams from both East and West Malaysia.
The teams were Gold Coast Koalas, Kurnia Medan City FC, Prince Songkla University, Singapore Recreation Club, Black Eagle FC, Penang Sports Club, Chinese Recreation Club, Taiping, The Malacca Club, Melodi Jaya FC, Uniplast FC and host UKRC.
Indeed UKRC is unique not only to have gone to host this tournament for the tenth consecutive year despite all the problems they have been facing, but they are special in many ways.
Special because of the recognition they get which many top clubs find it difficult.
For starters, their tournament is sponsored by the cable television station Astro! For a giant corporation to support a small club, there must be surely something great that Astro sees in UKRC.
UKRC also produced a souvenir magazine which all the members had worked hard to bring in the advertisements and indeed they have garnered some good support.
And it not all about monetary gains either.
UKRC had a rare occasion when several ex-internationals attended their official dinner on Saturday night for competing teams at their club hall.
The list went like this : Chow Kwai Lam, Chow Chee Keong, Wong Choon Wah, Santokh Singh, Yip Chee Keong and former Selangor state player Chung Chun Yong. Among the the younger generation of ex-international present included Chen Wooi Hwa and A. Rukumaran.
But the sight Chee Keong, the first Malaysian to play professional football in Hong Kong way back in the 70s, was indeed a surprise as he has been missing from the scene. And to see him with Kwai Lam, Choon Wah, Santokh and Yip, brought flashbacks of the golden era Malaysian soccer enjoyed.
It was indeed a rare treat for all those present to have seen all these players present in one place.
And that is the uniqueness of UKRC. They have the admiration of these legends who find time to be present to grace their function.
 UKRC president with the legends and his club members... (from left) Chung Chun Yong, Jeffery Lau, Wong Choon Wah, Yip Chee Keong, Andrew Gopal, Lee Paw Koi, Yap Wei Pun, Chow Chee Keong, Santokh Singh and Ng Weng Soon
 Amongst Legends...the scribe had this rare opportunity to be photographed with (from left) Chow Chee Keong, Wong Choon Wah, Santokh Singh and Yip Chee Keong.

HONOURED.....The legends honoured at the Dinner as they came up to the stage to the thunderous applause of the guests. Also on stage is the organising committee led by Andrew.
All pictures by Brendan Lee

UKRC also had a rare item on their night's itinerary - UKRC Life Time Achievement Award.
UKRC is not one who blow their own trumpets, but they felt it was fitting and timely that they reward some of their loyal members who are pillars of the club and seen it become what it is today.
Only on two other occasions has the club honoured their members - the first in 2003 when they honoured their first president, the later K. Supiah and in 2007 when another president, Ten Foong Keong (1996-2001) was honoured.
On Saturday night another two awards were given out.
The award was to recognise the efforts and contribution made by a member over the years to the club as a volunteer and where the passion and commitment of the member in taking the club to a greater height beyond is valued by club members.
The first recipient had spent more than 30 years with the club and is seen in the club 360 days in year - minus 5 days for public holidays.
He is regarded like a fatherly figure to the members, well known in the village of Ulu Klang and is 60 years old and still going very strong. Club members say that he loves the club more than his wife!
And it was none other Lee Paw Koi more populary known as Uncle Lee who was awarded the award by Andrew.
The second receipt has football in his blood. Still kicks around with the UKRC veteran team, although these days he plays for one half only with age catching up.
He spends most weekends at the club and has been a member for 20 years. He has been taking charge of the UKRC Junior Football Programme for the last six years and is also the secretary of the club.
And he was Jeffrey Lau.
Indeed a fitting recognition for the duo who have done so much for the club and the club is their heartbeat.
However, every member of UKRC deserves an award in their own right, for this is a unique club run by volunteers who serve the community and has achieved a great deal through sheer resilience.
Kudos to you UKRC! Keep up the good work.
For the record, Kurnia Medan City FC from Indonesia beat Melodi Jaya FC from Johor by a solitary goal to win the tenth edition of the UKRC-Astro International Soccer 9s.
 Victory Celebration...Kurnia Medan City FC from Indonesia celebrating after receiving their winning trophy. Also in picture from left....Mohd Fauzi Ahmad, (F and N Beverages), Mohd Kadri Taib (Coca-Cola Far East Limited), Venu Ramadass (Astro Arena) and Andrew Gopal.


Andrew Gopal said...

Dear Tony,

Thank you for your contribution during your days in The Malay Mail as Sports Journalist and later Editor in covering all UKRC sports activities and now you still continue to contribute to UKRC.

Your are kind.

Alexander said...

I was a guest of Tony's and visited UKRC where I was not only supremely impressed by their set-up, but humbled by their generosity and hospitality. An academic, my research centres upon sport in Malaysia - and more often than not on the positive role that sport has (and continues) to play in engendering a sense of nationhood in Malaysia. To see a team comprised of Malaysians of different ethnic backgrounds was of course no surprise, but it was a joy to see nevertheless. The players were a credit to UKRC - and I have to say really impressed me with their skills.
This is a great article Tony and tells a tale of a club that deserves such praise. Very well done to all concerned.

Ukrcforall said...

I was born in Kuala Ampang, lived there almost my whole life. I, too like all of you thought that Andrew Gopal was a hero. I, too, joined many others in full support of UKRC when the fight for the land against the 'vultures' began. After more than 10 years of being a friend, supporter of UKRC, it dawns upon me that so many things are just not right in the club - the management, the direction its going, its commitment to the residents of Kuala Ampang,...etc.

For the love of the club and its original intentions, nobody wants to air its dirty laundry in public. So, this internal squabble was kept under wraps since Oct '11.

It all started when a group of these members (residents, non-residents) voiced out to AG(Andrew Gopal) that they wish to have a change in leadership, after his 10 years of uncontested presidency.

Within weeks, 50% of the club total membership (NOT 1,000)were disqualified from voting. This was followed by legal letters from AG's lawyer, for merely signing a petition to the club patron, YB Saari Sungib, asking for a fair election.

And, things escalate from then on. Latest, an automatic barrier gate, guardhouse complete with 'private' guards were put in place. These actions clearly shows that the club has lost its way, of serving the community.

I wished I have seen these postings on these blogs earlier. Obviously, many think positively of AG, based on the many press writeup. Therefore, I strongly felt that I should share with all of you the other side of the story, not covered by the press. We need you to know the truth, and we need your help to set things right for UKRC, so that it is truly a club that serves its community.

A group of us are more than willing to talk to anyone who wants to know the truth & to help.
Please check out 'Ukrcforall' in FB, with an open mind and we look forward to hear from all of you.

Thank you.