Tuesday, November 19, 2013

No shortcut to success

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FOOTBALL FRENZY: Pahang fans lined the streets of
Kuantan to welcome and take photos of their heroes
who brought home the Malaysia Cup after 21 years

SUCCESS comes with time, patience, dedication, hard work and self-belief.
Pahang took 21 years to win the Malaysia Cup again a fortnight ago. It was a long wait, but one which was worthwhile as they savoured the victory with even more meaning. Everyone, from the fans, players and officials to the man on the street, celebrated the victory with joy.
Tengku Abdul Rahman Sultan Ahmad Shah, the Pahang FA president for the last 10 years, played a vital role in the team’s path to glory. Maybe, other state FAs could take a leaf out of his book. Pahang did not find success by splurging their money, which may be why they had to wait so long for it.
Other teams just go on a spending spree, buying players, only to realise a year or two down the road that they have to keep doing this to stay at the top because they do not have their own pool of players to fall back on. Many clubs that adopted this strategy have collapsed because their game plan was unsustainable or their backers had dumped them.
Pahang, whose budget is only about a quarter of most other teams’ RM6 million to RM10 million, have a wealth of talent in their Shahzan Muda, a development team started 13 years ago.
Yes, this is an era of professionalism and one has to spend big money, sometimes as much as RM16 million to RM22 million.
But when we are still struggling to put together a decent national team, shouldn’t the emphasis be on development and long-term planning? It is not as if Pahang have not won any honours or come close to it since 1992. They bagged the Super League title in 2004, the FA Cup in 2006 and lost in three Malaysia Cup finals — in 1994, 1995 and 1997.
They also had their fair share of woes, having been demoted to Premier League in 2011. But they bounced back to the Super League the next season and triumphed in the Malaysia Cup final this year. If anything, they are true champions.
Pahang now plan to go big on their development programme, tapping footballers from all the towns and districts in the state, besides having their local league at full throttle.
And then we have teams like Kuala Lumpur. They were the underdogs of the League when they made they debut in 1979, but with a visionary like then mayor of Kuala Lumpur and president of KLFA, Tan Sri Elyas Omar, guiding them, they became the kingpins of Malaysian football in the late 1980s.
But today, Kuala Lumpur have tumbled to FAM Cup level — the third tier league for amateur clubs — for the 2014 season.
For a team that represents a thriving metropolis to sink so far is indeed a shame. And they have no one but themselves to blame for their present predicament.
By right, the officials responsible for this, some of whom hold posts at the national level, should resign and hand over the reins to people who are more committed and passionate about the game. Butwill they? No, they will continue to sit pretty.
Malacca, who have a long and glorious football history and were also once a force to be reckoned with, are in the FAM Cup league for the third consecutive season in 2014.
Penang, another former football powerhouse and four-time Malaysia Cup champions, were in the FAM Cup league for two seasons before finally earning promotion to the Premier League next season.
These three teams have a lot in common: lack of player development, poor management and resting on their laurels. They should take their cue from Pahang and start working their way up again.
If only more states paid attention to development, managed their teams prudently and truly loved the game instead of placing selfinterest above everything else, football in this country will certainly move to the next level.
So, before we think of privatising the teams and the M-League, let's put our house in order. Let’s get the right leaders and experts to manage the various divisions of the game and run the associations professionally.

editor of The Malay Mail. He
can be reached at tonym@

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