Thursday, January 29, 1998

Get rid of the dole mentality! (The Malay Mail)

AS long as State FAs depend on handouts from the FA of Malaysia to run
their associations, Malaysian soccer is going to take a long time to reach
even Asian standards.
It was typical of the State FAs to declare they were eagerly awaiting
Feb 8 when FAM will announce the grant for the new season.
They hope the present RM750,000 will be increased to more than RM1
million as the national body have secured a RM175 million five-year
sponsorship deal with Dunhill.
It is fine for FAM to assist their affiliates but it is not fine for the
State FAs to depend solely on the grant to plan their season.
The grant was RM300,000 in the late 80s during the semi-professional
stage but has over the years reached RM750,000.
Some State FAs have spent the money wisely but many have wasted it on
luxuries and unnecessary things.
The grant also includes money for development but many States have
either neglected the area or have just organised age-group tournaments or
paid the expenses of youth teams to national tournaments and called it
It is about time FAM thought about making State FAs stand on their own
feet and stop giving them big handouts.
The professional concept has to enforced and there is no room for
Let the State FAs who have strong foundations and professional setups
play in the main league while the inefficient and wasteful ones play in an
amateur league until they are ready to move up.
Unless and until State FAs are prepared to run their association like a
business venture, they should stay out of professional soccer.
FAM can still help out the States, but with lesser amounts to teams who
are not working towards professionalism.
FAM should also consider giving grants, if they insist on giving it,
based on the team's previous season's finishing in the League.
At least this way, the grant will be like a reward for reaching a
certain standard.
FAM would be spending the money better by being directly involved at the
schools level where a solid foundation can be laid for the future.
Currently, State FAs are expected to work with their State School Sports
Council, but hardly any concrete work is done.
Many of their involvments stop at giving small grants to the Sports
The problems states had when they got RM700,000 were no different from
when they got RM300,000.
And it will not be any different when RM1 million or even more is doled
Malaysia is the envy of many a country, including Australia who came so
close to qualifying for the World Cup this year.
They too have a professional league but their clubs have to fend for
Most Australian players in their National League are paid much less than
in Malaysia and yet, they have a better national team.
The underlying factor is a professional approach at all levels, emphasis
on development and having a common goal and not having individual agendas.
We can only hope at least this year, with the prevailing economic
situation, the State FAs will spend the grant prudently.

Tuesday, January 27, 1998

Have faith! (The Malay Mail)

A TOP Ethiopian official, whose country has produced some of the world's
finest distance runners, urged Malaysia to have more confidence in local
Ferrou Kidane, director of the International Olympic Council (IOC)
Executive Office of the President and their Department of International
Cooperation and Communication, made this call in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
In recent years, Malaysia have imported more than a 100 foreign coaches
as part of the Commonwealth Games preparations.
Kidane's timely call for a show of faith in local coaches received warm
applause from officials of the various sport associations, the Education
Ministry, Sports Ministry and National Sports Council (NSC).
A former teacher turned journalist who worked for the United Nations for
nearly 14 years, Kidane has been with the Olympic Movement since 1989.
"The problem with developing countries is that we have no confidence in
ourselves," he said.
"And it's about time local coaches are given due prominence and
"I have seen many developing countries whose teams had done well to
qualify for the soccer World Cup. But at the Finals, it is foreigners who
handle the teams.
"The local coaches did all the groundwork and, in many instances, seen
their teams through to the Finals.
"But four to five months before the World Cup, the local coaches
suddenly become not good enough and foreign coaches are hired.
"As long as we have this mentality, sports in developing countries will
always be in the backwaters," he said.
Kidane said coaches from developing countries have proven to be more
than competent in several sports.
"For instance, Malaysia's badminton coaches will have a better knowledge
of the game than most of their foreign counterparts.
"While it is good to learn from foreign coaches, we cannot depend on
them forever. We have to stand on our own feet sooner or later," said
The topics discussed at the forum included the Olympic Movement, the
development of physical education and sports in Malaysia, and co-operation
among national sport organisations.
The delegates also touched on sports administration, technical
assistance and international relations.
Among the speakers were FAM general secretary Datuk Paul Mony, Physical
Education and Fitness Association of Malaysia president Dr Leonard de
Vires and Malaysian Schools Sports Council (MSSM) secretary-general Aziz

Friday, January 23, 1998

So dumb! (The Malay Mail)

THE Malaysian Amateur Athletic Union (MAAU) are off and running again -
flying in the face of commonsense.
The MAAU intend to go ahead with a RM1 million to RM1.5 million show
when everybody else is counting every sen and cutting costs.
The MAAU want to hold a big party - a grand Malaysian Open on May 21-24
at the Main Stadium in Bukit Jalil - as a prelude to the Commonwealth
Typically, MAAU do not have the funds and are banking on Sukom Ninety
Eight Berhad, the Games organisers, to provide the money.
MAAU, in justifying the move, give several reasons which ring hollow
when the nation is grappling with an economic crisis.
MAAU claim they need to stage the bash because it is their 40th
The other reasons: Sukom can use the event to assess whether the track
is up to standards; a good show is essential for the image of the country
and that at least 27 countries will attend to make it the biggest ever
athletics meet.
The big budget, explain MAAU, is because they will pay for the food and
accommodation of the visiting athletes.
The MAAU are even considering getting sponsors to fork out big bucks as
appearance fees to stars like Donovan Bailey, Jonathan Edwards and Cathy
It really makes nonsense of the Government's austerity drive and
constant reminders not to waste money.
Why pay so much to watch Bailey and company when they will be in KL for
the Commonwealth Games just four months later?
Do MAAU really need world class athletes to test the facilities at the
In contrast, the Badminton Association of Malaysia, a much richer and
more successful sports body, are considering cancelling this year's
Malaysian Open to save money.
And the highly successful and well organised Malaysian Tenpin Bowling
Congress (MTBC), who have been given the flexibility by the Sports
Ministry to spend if necessary, are reducing their budget.
Though the MTBC have asked participating teams of the Commonwealth Games
to compete in their Malaysian Open in March at Sunway Pyramid, the venue
of the Games, they will have to foot their own expenses.
National coach Sid Allen said: "Why should we pay for their presence
here when they want to familiarise themselves for the Commonwealth Games?
"We already know the standards of our rivals and where we stand against
them. There is little advantage for us in bringing them here to compete in
the Malaysian Open.
"Besides, they might not be at their best and we may end up gaining
nothing from their presence.
"Instead, it will be the visiting bowlers who will benefit by competing
As usual, it takes someone else to show the MAAU the error of their
ways, just like when they lost their Genting corporate partner. Some
things never change.

Nomad Tan seeking a break (The Malay Mail)

NEW Kuala Lumpur signing Tan Cheng Hoe is on a mission to resurrect his
soccer career.
Cheng Hoe, who hails from Alor Star, has been a nomad of the M-League
the past four years since injuring his right knee while with Kedah in
He in fact sufferred the injury in 1991 but continued playing until it
took a turn for the worse in 1993.
He went for an operation that year but was relegated to the Kedah back-
up team, Langkasuka, who played in the Amateur League for two years (1994
and 1995).
Cheng Hoe's desire to play in the M-League saw him join Perlis in 1996
but he did not see much action.
Frustrated, the 29-year-old moved over to Penang last season but here
too he did not get to play regularly.
It was then that he decided to try his luck with KL this season and
coach Chow Kwai Lam was impressed enough to give him a one-year contract.
"The last four years have been really frustrating for me as I had to
move from team to team," said Cheng Hoe, who is basically a rightback also
plays in midfield.
"My best years were under former Kedah coach Milous Kvacek from 1989 to
1990 as I was a regular and played in two Malaysia Cup finals. I collected
a winners' medal in 1990 when we beat Singapore.
"I want to hit that form again and I believe I have what it takes. And I
have recovered from my injury. All I need is regular matches to regain my
"I worked very hard but did not get the opportunity to play regularly.
"I hope things will change with KL although I realise the competition
for a first choice slot is stiff.
"But I am prepared for the challenge. I see my stint with KL as a last
chance to redeem myself and end my career on a high note," said Cheng Hoe
who played for the national second team in two tournaments - in Bangkok
(1988) and Nepal (1991).

Tuesday, January 20, 1998

Not professional enough (The Malay Mail)

SOCCER in the country has gone fully professsional since 1994 but not a
season has kicked off without controversies.
It often involves the movements of players and their contracts, leading
to the State FAs crying foul.
Who is to blame? The players themselves and the State FAs.
In fact, both parties deserve each other for making a mockery of the M-
League. While most of the players are ignorant of their rights as
professionals, the State FAs are of no help at all - being equally
ignorant too.
In the end, both the players and States FAs end up blaming each other
for the mess they created.
The root of the problem is that neither the players nor the State FAs
are professional enough in dealing with their jobs.
While the players are to be blamed for making use of State FAs to mark
up their value by offering their services to every other team, aren't the
State FAs suckers enough to be used by them?
State FAs should make players sign letters of intent instead of verbal
agreements which are not binding.
State FAs should know the types of players they want and not just
entertain every other fella who walks through their doors.
While it is unethical of players to play the waiting game for the best
offers, the State FAs too should not make "insulting offers" to the
You have State FAs offering one-year contracts using the current
economic situation as an excuse and another reason that they are not sure
if their presidents would still be around next year.
As State FAs safeguard their interest, the welfare of the players should
also be considered.
Can the players be blamed if they shop around for more secure contracts?
After all, this is their profession and their families depend on it.
Many have given up stable and comfortable jobs to turn professional as
required by the FA of Malaysia.
And it is not surprising to hear of professional players who do not even
have copies of the contracts!
Many are still asked to sign pieces of papers where the only clear print
is the salaries.
The players themselves should be blamed for signing the contracts
blindly with the State FAs equally guilty of the manner they obtain the
Then, we have players who still have existing contracts from the
previous year, but find themselves dropped.
While both parties can come to a settlement for termination of
contracts, many players just do not know what to do and stop attending
trainings, giving the State FAs an excuse to drop them.
Little wonder then, controversy after controversy would litter the start
of each season because noboby seems to understand the mechanics of the
professional world.
The FA of Malaysia have done their best to educate the State FAs, the
officials and the players but somehow they don't seem to learn.
Even team management is far from professional and it is not surprising
to see the standards of the game correspond accordingly - mediocrity at
It is about time both State FAs and players act more professionally to
ensure that the game is not turned into a circus.
And everything is still very amateurish.

Thursday, January 15, 1998

Time to grow up (The Malay Mail)

WATSON NYAMBEK ran away from reality yesterday when he failed to win
anything in the Asian Games 100m final.
Watson couldn't face the big moment. And the Malaysian speed demon
couldn't face the journalists.
Perhaps the 22-year-old Sarawakian couldn't face his own self after so
much of promise, especially after scorching times in the heats.
It was all gone in 10.32s at Bangkok's Thammasat Stadium as Japan's Koji
Ito, who ran 10s flat in the semifinals, took the gold in 10.05s.
Thailand's Seehanwong Reanchai and Japan's Yasukatsu Otsuki were second
and third respectively on 10.28s and 10.31s.
Watson ended up fourth. A big zero as the Malaysian camp had predicted
that Watson would win a medal but it was gold that he wanted.
The optimism and confidence had skyrocketed after Watson found himself
as the next favourite after Ito after the latter finished second fastest
in the heats on Sunday.
But, in the end, the "Flying Dayak" just couldn't make the quantum leap
to greatness though he had shown such signs when winning the Asian
championships silver in Fukuoka, Japan, in July.
Watson couldn't live with the pressure and the legs of the powerfully-
built speedster got weighted down with too much expectation just like in
the Olympics and SEA Games. In Fukuoka, Watson shone when nothing was
expected of him.
Perhaps it works best like a bolt from out of the blue. When Rabuan Pit
won the century dash for Malaysia 16 years ago in New Delhi (our last
sprint success), he was not even close to being a darkhorse.
A devastated Watson yesterday showed his lack of character off the field
as well when dealing with the Press.
Just earlier, he cut a confident picture while waiting for the
unofficial times to be flashed on the scoreboard. When the results
appeared, a stunned and bitter Watson then stormed off to the dressing
When he finally came out, he tried to evade the Malaysian electronic and
print media, scrambling away in his walk.
When asked what happened in the race, Watson shot back: "What happened
was I finished fourth."
When asked whether he lost his balance at the start, Watson refused to
answer and just walked way to be joined by his coach Mumtaz Jaafar.
As the reporters rushed after Watson, Malaysia's fastest man was
"running away" from them.
Mumtaz was overheard asking Watson if the latter had lost his balance.
Watson replied: "I did not."
"You looked like you were floating at the start," said Mumtaz.
"No, I did not feel like that," said Watson.
"What happened then?" asked Mumtaz.
"I don't know," said Watson.
The Press then asked Mumtaz to request Watson to speak with them but the
sprinter shook his head and continued his way.
One can understand Watson's feelings especially after two superb runs in
the heats.
But, as a sportsman, he must be sporting enough to accept defeats.
When he did well in the heats, Watson was effusive and very obliging in
giving interviews. It seems his runs on the field is the barometer of his
The nation shares Watson's disappointment and he owes it to the people
to share the race with them.
Unless Watson matures in character, it will be difficult for him to
triumph on the field.

Saturday, January 10, 1998

Back for a good cause (The Malay Mail)

FORMER national midfielder Lim Teong Kim (left), now in Germany, will
return to Malaysia on Tuesday to coach.
Teong Kim, who attained the German A Licence last year after being in
Germany for over two years, will be the head coach of the FA of Malaysia
academies from Feb 1.
And the man instrumental for his return is none other than Datuk Ahmad
Basri Mohamad Akil, one of the four FA of Malaysia vice-presidents and
chairman of the Youth Development Department.
Teong Kim, who had earlier applied to coach M-League teams like Kedah,
Kuala Lumpur and Negri Sembilan, had also expressed an interest to work on
youth development, be it at State or national level.
While the State FAs did not take Teong Kim seriously, it was Ahmad Basri
who pushed for the latter's recruitment as he realised the potential of
Teong Kim's contribution to soccer development in the country.
Holger Obermann, the head coach and technical chairman of the FAM youth
department, is another man, who was in full support of Teong Kim's return
to join FAM.
Obermann had also played a key role in assisting Teong Kim in sitting
for the A Licence in Germany and also an attachment with Bayern Munich.
Teong Kim could eventually take over Obermann's position in FAM when the
latter, who is here on a German Government Programme, eventually leaves.
Teong Kim, who has a German wife and three children, had recently
pointed out that local coaches should equip themselves with better
knowledge of the game and his comments did not go down well with many
local coaches.
He said local coaches, who lacked knowledge of the game and were not
exposed to high level international competitions, would find it tough to
bring out the best from the players and motivating them.
Teong Kim said he did not mean to belittle local coaches, but hoped to
see improvement in the coaching aspects in Malaysia.
Now that he will be back to help groom the youngsters, he will have an
opportunity to put his experience to good use.
However, he needs the cooperation of all academy coaches throughout the
country to come up with a successful programme.

Thursday, January 1, 1998

Don't insult me (The Malay Mail)

SCOTT Ollerenshaw is not amused that his previous exploits with Sabah all
count for nothing as 1997 came to an end.
Ollerenshaw, who won the M-League's Golden Boot Award in 1995 and 1996,
has been told by the Sabah FA to attend trials if he wants to continue
playing for the Rhinos.
The Sabah FA condition came after Ollerenshaw, who is married to former
national karate exponent and Sabahan Michelle Koh, parted company with
them in his mission to play for Australia in the World Cup.
Ollerenshaw, who turns 30 on Feb 9, said yesterday in Sydney he felt
hurt that after four years of service with Sabah, he had to attend trials
if he wished to play for them again.
He said he wants to explain to the fans of Sabah his exit from Kota
Kinabalu because they have been great to him.
He does not want them to get the wrong picture of him walking out on
"It is true that I asked to be released from Sabah at the end of
December although my contract runs until December 1998.
"The reason I wanted out was because I wanted to play for Australia in
the World Cup. I had written to the Sabah FA requesting for an early
release and they duly replied saying my request has been granted but that
my contract would end in November 1997.
"I then found out that Terry Venables has already named a squad of 26
and, even if Australia qualified for the World Cup, he will not be calling
up any more players apart from those named earlier.
"Australia also failed to qualify and I wrote back to the Sabah FA
offering to continue my services following the turn of events.
"They wrote back saying that they are sticking with their earlier
decision to release me. However, they added that if I still wanted to play
for Sabah, I could attend trials.
"I was really hurt by this statement because after four years of playing
for Sabah, they still do not know want I can offer. I really don't know
what to say.
"I respect their decision not to re-engage me but to ask me to attend
trials was certainly not necessary. They could have just told me they do
not need my services anymore," said Ollerenshaw.
Ollerenshaw said he will seek the help of the FA of Malaysia in getting
his December salary as his contract covered the 12 months of 1997.
"I hope the fans can now understand why I will not be playing for Sabah
in the new season," said Ollerenshaw, who made it known that he is still
very keen to continue playing in the M-League.
"I am now a free agent as Sabah have released me. I want to play for
another team.
"I have been offered by a team in Singapore, but I prefer the M-League
and I hope some of the teams are interested in me."
Ollerenshaw said he would like to play for Negri Sembilan as he sees the
Deer as a good side and have the potential to do well.
"I want to play for the team and win something for them. I also want a
new challenge and I see Negri as having the potential of winning something
but they will have to work hard for it and I want to be a part of it."
On reports that he and fellow Sabah teammate Seslija Milomir have been
offered a package deal to play for a certain team, Ollerenshaw said he is
not aware of it because he has not been in touch with Milomir.

Game on a roll (The Malay Mail)

BOWLING is among the few sports that has given us reason to cheer in 1997.
It serves as an example of a well managed association with achievements
that are hard for others to match.
Over the last few years, bowling has brought about good news and pride
to the nation with its achievements rather than controversies.
Basically, it all boils down to proper administration, calibre coaches,
professionalism, dedication, good development programmes and good
relationship with the National Sports Council (NSC) and sponsors.
And the bowlers have certainly proved that they are no one season
wonders and the sport is constantly growing in strength with their full
potential yet to be realised.
Even when their full potential is realised, which is expected to be in
1999, they can only move upwards as there are many more potentials waiting
on the wings for an opportunity to move into the main stream.
The fact that their partner-in-sport under the Rakan Muda project - The
Land & General Bhd - has increased their grant from RM400,000 in 1995 to
RM600,000 last year only underlines the confidence the sponsors have in
The sport itself has certainly not let the sponsors down as eight other
sponsors (out of 20) have withdrawn their sponsorship for various reasons
including poor performances, disagreement, poor management and poor
Critics may point out that when it mattered most, bowling had failed
especially when the bowlers competed in step-ladder finals which had
turned out to be a jinx for the sport last year.
Bowling sensation Shalin Zulkifli failed twice, in the Sea Games in
Jakarta and the World championship in Cairo, while Lai Kin Ngoh slipped at
the inaugural Brunswick Asian Championship for Champions in Guangzhou.
But the step-ladder is no guideline because it is a one-off game while
the respective bowlers have done well overall and were even leaders during
the competition.
However, in any case, national coach Sid Allen had specifically said
that Malaysia's true potential has yet to be realised.
Not even when Malaysia had won five golds, five silvers and six bronzes
at the Jakarta Sea Games.
Although next year is a very important year for the sport with six major
international championships coming up. It is the 1999 FIQ World
championship in the United Arab Emirates that Malaysia have targeted to be
ranked among the top three.
Currently Malaysia are ranked about sixth with Holland leading the list
followed by the United States, Sweden, Finland and Taiwan.
Ambitious as it may sound, but at least here is a sport body that
strives for excellence and is well in line to achieve their targets.
While the hiring of Canadian nine years ago was the best thing that
could have happened to Malaysian bowling, it did not stop there.
The Malaysian Tenpin Bowling Congress (MTBC), under the leadership of Dr
P.S. Nathan and secretary Sideny Tung, have constantly worked hard to see
Besides Allen, there is Australian-born Chinese Eric Jang who has been
in Malaysia for the last two years and been largely involved in the
development of the game in the country.
Known as the roving coach, Jang has been travelling to the ten bowling
centres of excellence across the country not only to help the elite group
of young bowlers but also to upgrade coaches in the respective States.
The centres of excellence which started 10 ten years ago as a joint
effort by MTBC and NSC has certainly paid dividends and is expected to
continue to do so with the number of new talents being produced every
Next year, two more new centres will be opened to bring it to 12
throughout the country.
There are about 35 coaches involved in the programme.
Of the current 20 national bowlers, 16 of them, including Shalin are
products of the programme.
And it was no surprise that at the recent national championships, more
fresh talents surfaced to give further hope for the future.
Sarawak and Penang are two centres who have developed fast and produced
many talents for the future.
Jang was stationed in Kuching for three months before the national
championship last month, and that probably explained Sarawak's supermacy
in the championships.
James Potter, who was hired early last year, is another coach who has
made tremendous contribution to the game with his expertise in ball
The MTBC research centre has been rated as one of the best in the world
and it is through such planning and research that success has been gained.
When bowling was said to be dominated by women in recent years, the men
also gave reason to celebrate with their emergence last year to match if
not better the women's performances.
It has indeed been a fruitful year for the Malaysian bowlers with Sharon
Low starting off 1997 with her win at the Irish Open in January.
Other notable achievements include Daniel Lim and Sharon Low winning the
mixed doubles event at the World Games in Lathi, Finland, Alex Lim
emerging as the youngest bowler to win the Melbourne Cup.
The successes include Lydia Kwah winning the Philippines Open, Ricky
Chen bagging the Indo-Cement Cup in Indonesia, Kenny Ang's victory in the
Taiwan Open, Lai Kin Ngoh's second placing in the Brunswick Asian
Championship and of course Shalin's third place in the World Cup in Cairo.