Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Let's go back to being amateurs! (23/06/2003 - The Malay Mail)

Publication : MM
Date : 23/06/2003
Headline : Let's go back to being amateurs!

SOCCER players are the highest paid sportsmen in the country, but their
performances and achievements left much to be desired. Khalid Jamlus
getting the stick from Perak FA is another example of a player who thinks
he is a prima donna when in actual fact, his performance is far from
anywhere near top quality.
Khalid is probably the best among the worst but yet he can get carried
away with his status.
Once too often, we have had players skipping training, giving lacklustre
performances, keeping late nights, reporting late for training, choosing
when and which tournament to play, faking injuries, etc.
Maybe, we should go back to the good old amateur days when the standard
of the game was far better and the players more disciplined and committed.
As amateurs and with work to do, the players will at least be fully
occupied and not have the luxury of whiling away the hours at nightspots,
sleeping away the days and loitering at shopping complexes with
girlfriends. Some have even been implicated in drug and rape cases.
One of the main reasons for today's poor state of the game is that every
player who calls himself a professional, does not have a clue of what the
word "professionalism" means.
Professional soccer status should only be accorded to the best in the
country and this means only those who make the national team. That will
make players strive for excellence to get full contracts and enjoy the
benefits of playing fulltime soccer.
The national back-up squad players too should be considered for full
time playing status if it means better training facilities, exposure and
The rest should only be given amateur contracts and they will have to
find a job to supplement their allowances from playing soccer.
Today, every Ali, Muthu and Ah Chong is a professional player in the M-
League. Let's face it. We are not ready for professional soccer although
we have gone into it since the 90s because the State FAs and clubs
themselves do not conduct themselves as professional outfits.
They have made the M-League a circus and it is no surprise that we have
clowns playing the game.
Many of the players believe they are God's gift to the game when in
actual fact they cannot hold a candle to others from many of our
neighboring countries.
To make matters worse, when these so called professionals do not conduct
themselves well, the laws protect them. Even to get rid of them from a
team take a long process, and the real losers are the employers, the game
and the paying fans.
And when FAM do everything possible to improve the game, including
sending the so called cream of the nation for overseas stints, these
players come running back with all sorts of excuses - bad weather, food,
language, injury and just about everything else.
Is it a surprise that players from Thailand, China, India, Japan, and
Korea have all gone on to a higher level? These players have made
sacrifices, have the passion, are disciplined, and above all, have