Sunday, March 8, 2015

Leaders made of stern stuff

ALMOST 20 years ago!
Publication : Sunday Mail
Edition :
Date : 08/12/1996

Headline : Rise and fall of three godfathers

Byline : By Tony Mariadass

AS 1996 draws to an end, it will be a year remembered in soccer where
three godfathers of the game had their curtains drawn on them in their
respective States.
  Or at least two have been unceremoniously booted out of their
associations while the other is very likely to suffer the same fate.
  The three are former Kuala Lumpur FA president Tan Sri Elyas Omar,
former Johor FA deputy president Datuk Suleiman Mohamed Noor and Kedah FA
deputy president Datuk Ahmad Basri Mohamad Akil.
  Elyas and Suleiman are no longer with their respective FAs and Basri is
on the verge of leaving the association.
  Without doubt, all three have done a great deal for their State FAs and
the rise of soccer in their respective States.
  It is through their time, dedication, vision and love for the game that
their respective States have hogged the limelight in Malaysian soccer.
  But sadly, Elyas and Suleiman, were dumped after they lost their
influence as they no longer held Government posts.
  What they had done over the years, was fast forgotten and they were made
scapegoats for the decline in recent years and the associations' poor
financial standings.
  No doubt, the associations probably needed someone more influential.
Elyas and Suleiman, with all their experience and contacts, could have
still been useful to them and in different areas.
  Instead, they became victims of the winds of change and politicking
within the associations.
  The fact that Elyas is still the vice-president of the FA of Malaysia
and the Project manager of the 1997 Youth World Cup team only speaks
volumes of his clout and capabilities.
  Though Suleiman may be out of the mainstream when it comes to soccer,
his years of experience could still be utilised.
  A council member of the Johor FA, who declined to be named, said:
"Suleiman, despite all his faults, still delivered and did his job to the
best of his abilities.
  "There were times when he was like a dictator, but he meant well and had
the interest of the game at heart.
  "When he was around, there was not a time when the players or coaches
had problems with their salaries being delayed.
  "After all is said and done, Datuk Suleiman's contributions to Johor
soccer have to be acknowledged."
  Many KL fans echoed a similar opinion of Elyas.
  "For what he did to KL soccer, he did not deserve to be treated that
way," said an ardent KL soccer follower.
  "If not for Elyas, KL would have just been whipping boys. He transformed
the City team with his professionalism and vision for the game.
  "In the end, he had served his usefulness and was discarded."
  Basri is also facing the same problems with moves to oust him. He has
clearly indicated that he will not be around, if his services are not
  But it will be a pity, because he was the man who turned Kedah soccer
around and saw them become a powerhorse.
  However, all his contributions, dedication and vision have suddenly been
forgotten, especially since he has recently retired from his Government
  But at the national level, Basri's vision and ideas are still very much
sought by the FA of Malaysia.
  It is indeed sad to see people like Elyas, Suleiman and Basri being
treated shabbily, after all they have put in the game.
  Of course, fresh blood, younger officials and ideas are needed, but at
the same time, it is also wrong to discard experience with a stroke of the
  The changing of guard is a normal process of a cycle, but it must be
done with grace and tact.
  Though the States may have had enough of the trio, they are still useful
at national level and should be given the task of putting Malaysia on the
world map as a strong soccer nation.

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