Friday, January 17, 2014 - The Malay Mail
It is even more alarming when it has to do with the development of sport and it deals with children.
Two events related to the Frenz United international friendly against Liverpool and the ongoing international tournament organised by the privately owned football academy do not seem to be in the name of grassroots development — there seems to be a hidden agenda.
Don’t get me wrong. I am all for development, especially by a private entity that is willing to pump a great deal of money into it. However, everything must be transparent and done in accordance with the rules.
It puzzles me that the majority of the national Under-16 players who competed in the recent friendly against Liverpool Under-17 donned Frenz United’s colours.
They are doing the same for the ongoing International Cup.
It is fine for the academy to sponsor the national youth team’s participation, but for FA of Malaysia to allow their team to play under a private club’s name is courting trouble and undermining their own status. Even national Under-16 coach S. Balachandran was wearing the Frenz United jersey.
Iran and Slovakia have sent their national Under-16 sides for the international tournament, but the Malaysian National Under-16 team is masquerading as a club team. Why? On Wednesday, Youth Football Academy (YFA) chief coach N. Radhakrishnan questioned why three players — M. Kogileswaran Raj, R. Dinesh and Muhammad Suazwan Salim — were part of Frenz United’s first XI instead of the national Under-16 team in the international tournament.
Radhakrishnan claimed the three players had trained under his academy, which is funded by CIMB, since they were 10 and were released to the national set-up as they had impressed the national junior selectors.
“YFA have not obtained a single sen in compensation from FAM for the development of the three players and they had surrendered the three boys to FAM in good faith.
But now the players are turning out for another club. This will discourage other academies from supplying talent to the national set-up,” he said.
He wants to know if FAM will release the three players to compete under his academy in a tournament in China in July.
To make matters worse, the head of the Education Ministry’s (MoE) sports unit, Ee Hong, says they were unaware the national Under-16 team would play for Frenz United.
MoE is unhappy with the whole affair and hopes FAM can resolve the matter amicably, taking into consideration the sports division’s concerns and the welfare of the players as they are students and come under its jurisdiction.
FAM, on the other hand, say they had given clearance for this tournament and the national Under-16 team to play under Frenz United’s name.
Why so many complications for a youth tournament, which is seen as good for the development of the game? It could even grow to become like the Gothia Cup — a tournament that is held annually in Gothenburg, Sweden, that is open to both boys and girls aged 11 to 19. It is the world's largest football tournament – in 2011, a total of 35,200 players from 1,567 teams and 72 nations participated in it. Gothia Cup had started in 1975 with 275 teams.
Earlier, there were also some complications when the National Football Development Programme (NFDP) was announced by the Minister of Youth Khairy Jamaluddin.
FAM stayed out of it initially. The matter has been resolved, but the programme has yet to be launched due to a delay in the ministry making a formal presentation to FAM and seeking a launch date.
The NFDP could well be the answer to the country’s football woes as it is a long-term programme combing the length and breadth of the nation.
Once the NFDP is formalised, FAM will have to play a big role to ensure the programme fully takes charge of development in the country — meaning all football academies and schools will have to register with them and run programmes that are sanctioned.
Only with a proper coordinated programme can there be good results.
If everyone wants to head in their own direction, we will continue to have conflicts and each entity will try to claim that it is better than the other.
Before we get into such situations, it is wise that everything is in order from the start and any personal agenda is nipped in the bud to ensure that the NFDP is a success.
It is of utmost importance that FAM, the Ministry of Sports, Ministry of Education, football academies, schools and clubs work hand in hand to ensure that the NFDP is not derailed in its infant stage itself.
is sports editor of
The Malay Mail.
He can be reached at
Twitter handle: @tmariadass