Friday, February 2, 2001

Wish for a glorious return

AS Kuala Lumpur celebrates its 27th birthday today, the wish of the Kuala
Lumpur Football Association (KLFA), who are a year younger, is to regain
past glory days.
KLFA, officially registered in 1975 as the Federal Territory Football
Association (FTFA) under a protem committee headed by Tan Sri Hamzah Abu
Samah, competed in their first official national competition in 1979 - the
Malaysia Cup.
Since then, the city side have come a long way, from whipping boys to
beating many associations who have a much longer history - dating as far
back to the 1920s.
Tan Sri Hamzah was their first president followed by Tan Sri Elyas Omar,
Tengku Ahmad Rithauddeen was at the helm from 1977 to 1981.
FTFA, who changed their name to Kuala Lumpur in 1986, emerged as the
kings of Malaysian soccer when they captured the Malaysia Cup for three
consecutive years from 1987 to 1989.
As early as 1982, KL showed that they were on their way up when they
finished runners-up behind Penang in the League Cup that was introduced
that year.
KL were to later win every trophy at stake - triumphing in the Malaysia
Cup thrice, the League Cup (1986 and 1988), the FA Cup (1993, 1994 and
1999), the Charity Shield 1988, 1995 and 2000) and the Fairplay Trophy
The man who took the city to their greatest height was Elyas, the former
mayor of KL as he showed a keen interest in the association and
contributed greatly.
In the new millennium, under the leadership of Datuk Seri Megat Junid
Megat Ayob, KL are looking at becoming a major power in the game again.
However, KLFA need the support of the private sector to be well armed
financially to start their conquest of Malaysian soccer again.
"One of the reasons why we did well in the 80s was because KL were
financially sound with good support from both City Hall and the private
sector," said acting KLFA secretary Goh Ah Chai.
"We had a good development programme going for age-groups and it
eventually bore fruits with an abundance of talent coming through.
"So much so KL became a reservoir of talent as many of our players
played for other States.
"We also had the means to hire some of the top players not only in
Malaysia, but also from across the causeway.
"But in recent years and even more so during the economic slowdown, we
were hit badly. Funds were not easily available and we had to depend on
City Hall and the FAM subsidy.
"But we are still proud to say that despite the stringent budget, we
have managed to manage the team well. With a relatively young team, we put
up a strong challenge and even won the FA Cup thrice in the 90s.
"We are indeed indebted to our present mayor Tan Sri Kamaruzzaman
Shariff, who has been supportive to the association and helped us to stay
"But we are appealing to the private sector in the city to come forward
to support us too.
"We aim to get our development programmes going again in a big way with
youth tournaments and clinics throughout the city. But we need funds to
embark on the projects."
"We are also grateful to all the past officials and players who have
done their share to fly the KL flag high,' said Goh who together with K.
Rasalingam, the previous secretary, were founder members of FTFA.
And KLFA can also be proud that one of their affiliates, Kuala Lumpur
Malay Mail FC have also come of age. From being a club side in the KL
domestic league, the newspaper team are now in Premier II of the M-League.
Happy birthday KL, and may KL return to soccer glory.