Football development a national agenda
Tuesday, August 27, 2013 - The Malay Mail
SPORTS Minister Khairy Jamaluddin is passionate about football development, which is a good thing because it will help elevate the appalling standard of the game in the country.
The question is, will his plans be for the long term or only for as long as he is the sports minister?
“I am not here to leave behind a legacy, but to introduce a policy that is permanent and will bear fruit in the long term, which other sports ministers will probably reap,” said Khairy after opening the 13th RSC-Tigers 7s and the 11th RSC Milo under-12 international football tournaments at the Royal Selangor Club on Saturday morning.
He was commenting on the National Football Development Programme (NFDP) of which he is the chairman and which involves his ministry, the National Sports Council (NSC), the FA of Malaysia (FAM) and the Ministry of Education. The eight-year programme was initiated last year with the target of seeing Malaysia qualify for the FIFA Under-17 World Cup in 2019.
Last week, Khairy appointed Germany-based former international midfi elder Lim Teong Kim as NFDP's project director.
“I will be announcing the full details of the NFDP, which will see some changes. It will be an elaborate programme where we will be engaging many parties, including the corporate sector, private clubs like the RSC, soccer academies and individuals who are interested to contribute to the development of the game,” said Khairy.
“A development and grassroots programme does not bring overnight success. It is not front page or even sports page material. It takes time and, more often than not, is not in the limelight. It involves a great deal of work, patience and dedication.
“To put the system in place, everyone must understand and work towards a common goal.
Asked about school football and the lack of and poor fields, Khairy said the NFDP is an open programme.
“It will involve everyone who is interested to play football.
We will have an open system for selection to the next level and everyone can participate.
But that does not mean that once you are eliminated from the selection process, you will be left out. We have to think of the late bloomers too.
“We have already finalised plans for 30 to 50 artificial turf pitches to be evenly distributed among the states, which will address the poor quality and lack of fields. These fields — at least two per state — will serve as the nucleus for young footballers to train.”
He said that although maintenance cost for artificial pitches is low, a budget for maintenance has been included.
Khairy said he is also getting ex-international players to get involved at school level in their respective states and serve as talent scouts.
“We will also be asking the government for more allocation for this project and at the same time, we are counting on the corporate sector to support the project.” As for club football, Khairy said the ministry cannot do everything.
“We are focused on development and hope that FAM, through its state FAs, makes a concerted eff ort to ensure football clubs are established in all the states and run effectively because that is the next level where the players will come from.”
Khairy's plan sounds great and is indeed long overdue. Hopefully, it will be a permanent feature and even get gazetted so that it does not disappear when the next sports minister comes along.