Monday, September 20, 1999

More bite, less bark (19/09/1999 - Sunday Mail)

Publication : SUM
Date : 19/09/1999
Headline : More bite, less bark

MALAYSIAN soccer players need to be kept on a short leash to stop the game
from going to the dogs.
Drastic measures are needed to arrest the rot and rehabilitate the
system that is littered with players without a clue to the meaning of
The rape of Malaysian soccer reputation has gone on for far too long -
leading to our degradation by seemingly impotent teams like the
Philippines, Laos and Singapore.
Something has to be done, starting with the attitude and behaviour of
the players who are making a mockery of the word `professionalism.' And
last week, several young players from Negri Sembilan were alleged to have
gang-raped a salesgirl.
The only thing our players equate professional soccer with is money,
never mind that their performances shortchange the fans. How they look is
more important than the waning texture of their game.
Going for the latest soccer boots, the coloured ones that match their
jerseys and doing up their hair as though they were going to a ball
instead of the field is more important than their game.
While they can afford to be flashy in their clothing, they couldn't get
themselves properly attired for training like wearing shin-pads - a
required protection in soccer.
They think they are mature enough to take care of themselves and abhor
being treated like kids if put under the supervision of officials. A
regimented camp life represses their freedom of expression and dulls their
skills. They clamour for `freedom' and be allowed to manage their own
When FAM granted "freedom" to the Olympic 2000 players and let them
reside in apartments instead of the Wisma FAM dormitory, they gave
themselves a bad name.
They gambled all night long at their apartments, sneaked out to discos
and had no proper rest for training. They even trashed the apartments just
before the team were disbanded.
And these were the very same players who were taught to live like
professionals by no-nonsense coach Hatem Souissi. The first thing they did
when free of Hatem's control, was to express themselves in all the wrong
Then, we had some players wearing slippers on a recent trip to
Bangladesh for a tournament and sneaking out of Wisma FAM for midnight
No one is denying these youths the joy of growing up. There is always
room for fun and frolic but it should be tempered with moderation. Just
get the priorities right.
The only way to deal with the situation is for the authorities to act in
an authoritarian way - subject the players to a regimented lifestyle. That
seems the only way because no amount of advising or educating on the
requirements of professionalism seems to work.
The rot starts in schools where the attitude of players leaves much to
be desired with poor attendance for training sessions and sloppy dressing.
At M-League-level, players perpetrate a lot of nonsense - like partying
into the wee hours of the morning, getting drunk and skipping training,
getting into brawls, quarreling over women, getting booked for speeding
or drink driving. And there have been accidents with players getting
If such a drastic measure is not feasible, then probably, our soccer
should return to the amateur days where at least the players will be fully
occupied the whole day - having to work 9 to 5 and play soccer in the
evenings. This way, they might be too tired to think of having late
But it is better to put them on a leash before someone gets killed.

No comments: