Saturday, October 31, 1992

'Holiday' away from home (The Malay Mail)

MIKE BROWN, even in his free time, somehow can't get his mind off soccer.
"I don't know what free time is ... if there is such a thing, then I
haven't found it yet," said the 53-year-old Englishman, who was born in
Hull but, after having spent most of his time there, considers Manchester
his home.
Brown actually breathes soccer 24 hours a day, 365 days a year - for the
past 38 years!
However, he admitted he has had extra time on his hands since coming to
Malaysia to coach Pahang.
"Somehow, everything I do back in England revolves around soccer.
"Even when I play a round of golf, it's with my soccer buddies and,
naturally, we would usually end up talking about soccer," said Brown, a
"But since coming to Kuantan and staying on my own, I have managed to
get some spare time. And if I were to tell people back home what I have
been doing, they'd be amused.
"I have never been known to be a letter writer even when I was in the
army during my younger days.
"But in Kuantan, I think I have written more letters than in my whole
"My friends were surprised to receive letters from me, but they have
obliged by replying and keeping me informed of what is happening back
"I must admit it's a sheer joy to find a letter from home in the
mailbox. I have never experienced this feeling before."
Apart from writing letters, Brown has been occasionally playing golf,
but spends most of his free time at Kuantan's Merlin Hotel.
"I have made some good friends at the hotel ... it's like a second home
to me.
"I'd normally go to the hotel for a swim in the morning and spend some
time on the beach.
"It's seafront has a lovely setting, which is where I write most of my
letters before a swim.
"Its also during this period that I figure out my plans before each
"Sometimes, I get players who are injured to join me and undergo
remedial workouts in the pool and on the beach."
Brown said in England, he used to do much of his planning on the
"I used to spend a lot of time on my own on the motorways, travelling to
matches. Being alone enabled me to think aloud.
"But since I am staying here alone, I do get a lot of time by myself,
and I find the seaside a refreshing place for contemplation."
Brown would normally have his meal at the hotel before returning home in
the afternoon.
"Many of my friends have sent me tapes of classical music and whenever I
get the opportunity to relax, I listen to it for about an hour.
"Of course, I perform some household chores, something which I have
never done before in my life," he chuckled.
"If friends back home were to find out about this, my ego would suffer a
"I was pampered before coming to Malaysia. Everything was done for me. I
have never ironed a shirt before I came to Kuantan.
"Although a maid comes to the house once a week - and she does a
marvellous job, including washing and ironing my clothes - I still do some
on my own."
Another chore which Brown had never done before is shopping.
"I am a hit at the local supermarket. I cannot believe I am doing this."
In the evenings, Brown can be found training the Pahang team. His
nightlife is either dinner with friends, the players or on his own.
Then he heads for the local pub for a pint or two.
"In England, my social life revolved around the pubs. I certainly miss
that scene where soccer talk rules.
"I do enjoy my moments at the pubs here. I have met all sorts of
characters, which has been quite an experience.
"But I don't stay up late. I would head for home after a couple of
Brown said at times, he missed his family, who are not with him here
because he took up the Pahang appointment at short notice following the
departure of his predecessor, Len Ashurst.
"Besides, my two boys - Gary (23) and Steven (20) - are just starting
out after completing their education and need to be looked after. It was
best that my wife Pamela remained with them."
Gary has been to Malaysia to visit Brown for a couple of weeks while
Pamela also flew down for a month in September.
"But I did not spend much time with them because I was involved with the
"In fact, Pamela hardly saw much of Malaysia, except to travel to away
matches where Pahang played during that period.
"As for me, I hardly have time to visit any place of interest."
Brown said he has enjoyed his stay in Malaysia and, if given an
opportunity, would not hesitate to return.
One thing he missed is watching the other soccer matches, something
which he used to do in England.
"Here, the fixtures do not allow that. I have only watched one match
this season - between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur at the National Stadium -
when Pahang had a rest day.
"Whether I return for another stint in Malaysia or not, I'd always have
fond memories of this country, especially its friendly and warm people.
"It has indeed been a pleasant experience for me," said Brown, whose
contract with Pahang FA expires on Nov 30.
On his future, Brown said: "Once a footballer, always a footballer. Have
boots will travel and that sums up my options.
"I'd not hesitate to go anywhere as long as it involves soccer."

Wednesday, October 21, 1992

Soccer could go up in smoke

THE call by the FA of Malaysia president, the Sultan of Pahang, to rethink
any ban on sponsorship from cigarette companies should be given a serious
thought in the interest of soccer and other sports.
At a time when sports in the country is heading towards excellence and
organising international events like the Commonwealth Games, World Youth
Soccer tournament, international badminton tournanments and other
international events, a ban on sponsorship from cigarette companies will
be a crippling blow.
It will definitely put soccer in dire straits as FAM have made long term
plans especially in youth development with the aid of these sponsorship.
The funds are from Dunhill - for 10 years from 1989 to a tune of $6.25
million annually.
State FAs are funded by FAM and taking away these grants will kill
soccer in most States.
The Semi-pro League gets 40 per cent of the sponsorship money from
Dunhill while 60 per cent goes to youth development, coaching seminars,
referees courses, Centres of Excellence, inter-district and age-group
State FAs take up $2.4 million for adminstration and youth development
from FAM.
Not many companies will be willing to put in big money without insisting
on mileage worth the amount.
OF course FAM have other sponsors like Malaysia Airlines who give
discounts on tickets, Sharp who give 70 per cent of their sponorship in
equipment and $300,000 cash while Adidas supply equipment.
Others like TV3, Toto, Genting Highlands and Public Bank give about
$500,000 each while give EON $1.5 million.
But without Dunhills sponsorship, FA of Malaysia will be crippled
because the other sponsorships go towards the Semi-pro League.
There has been suggestions that sponsors besides cigarette companies
should be sought. This is easier said than done because we are talking
megabucks here.
Certainly soccer development programmes will not interest companies as
they hardly get any mileage for their money.
It must be understood that FAM, while receiving sponsorship from a
cigarette company, are in no way condoning smoking.
They have merely agreed to the sponorship because it is the best
available source of funds at the moment.

Sunday, October 18, 1992

Having a fun time (The Sunday Mail)

MARKO BILIC, as Terengganu's Director of Development, may not be enjoying
the limelight than when he was handling Semi-Pro League teams, but he is
nevertheless enjoying his job to the fullest.
The 52-year-old Bilic, who lost his job after only three months as coach
of Div Two Malacca this season, has been with Terengganu since June.
"I am enjoying every minute of my job here because I personally get more
satisfaction working with the young," said Bilic, who had coached Johor
and Perak prior to his move to Malacca.
"Of course at times, I miss the League action, but I must admit that
working with the young is more relaxing and rewarding in the long run.
"Besides, I have been actively involved in youth development when I was
with Sarajevo, a Div One club in the Yugoslav League, before becoming
their coach."
Bilic said his work involves going to the eight districts in Terengganu
not only to scout for young talent, but also to impart the coaching
syllabus he has prepared so that the youths will be properly coached.
"I have already gone to a few districts and I must say that there is an
abundance of talent.
"In fact, some of the talents I have seen are equivalent to European
youth players, if not better.
"But it is important that these raw talents are coached properly to
reach the highest level."
Bilic believed that in the past, not only in Terengganu but all over
Malaysia as well, many talented players have been lost because they were
either not spotted or coached properly.
"I have prepared a coaching programme which I am imparting to the local
coaches in the district and I hope they will carry it out.
"If the coaching programme is carried out, I see no reason for
Terengganu to depend on foreign players in the near future, because their
home-bred players will be comparable if not better."
Bilic, however, expressed concern that his work might be temporarily
halted because of the monsoon season, which is expected to begin soon and
last for three months.
"I am trying to work something out for some indoor programme and I hope
this will be carried out because the three months' inactivity will put a
spanner in the works."
Besides Bilic's job as youth development director, he also helps out in
the Semi-Pro.
But his involvement is only in sizing up their opponents and giving his
knowledge on the teams to Terengganu coach Abdullah Mohamad.
"I have watched several of Terengganu's opponents against other teams
and given my views of their strengths and weaknesses and also how to stop
"It is up to Abdullah whether he wants to use the information or not,
but I am glad that I am able to help the Semi-Pro team in some ways too.
Besides, it helps me to keep in touch with the other teams in the
Occasionally, Bilic helps to coach the goalkeepers, being a former
goalkeeper himself.
Bilic, who has a contract with Terengganu until the end of next year, is
certainly a very happy man and his face lights up whenever he talks about
his job.
Sunshine and sea breeze aside, Bilic is certainly having a whale of a
time with Terengganu.