Tuesday, September 29, 2009

UKRC keeps on shining!

Ulu Klang Recreation Club (UKRC) has certainly stood time and with every year they are growing.

The club is actually 52 years old, but it is not standing like the Spotted Dog (Royal Selangor Club) or like many of the prestigious clubs.

UKRC is a community based club which rests on its humble settings and unpretentious existence.

Till today they are still fighting tooth and nail over the title of the land which was bought when they acquired the land on Aug 3rd 1957.

It has been a long drawn battle and the latest is that UKRC has been asked to sign a MOU with the local municipality to manage the club.

But UKRC led by president Andrew Gopal after having battled for so long for the rightful ownership of the club grounds are not about to throw their towel now. The battle proceeds.

However, with the dark clouds looming over the heads, it has not stopped UKRC from continuing with it's activities.

Come Saturday, will see the 9th UKRC-astro International Soccer 9s being held over two days at their club grounds.

This afternoon, a press conference was held at UKRC to announce the teams competing and their sponsors. As the title of the tournament reveals, astro are the main sponsors for the fourth consecutive year.

And if a giant corporate organisation like astro are prepared to sponsor a small club like UKRC, surely this club must be doing something right.

Puan Norzaitol Akmal Ab Halim, the assistant manager Astro SuperSports, who was present at the press conference in her speech said: "This our part of our community service contribution. We are indeed happy with the way UKRC have managed to organise the tournament and how they have built this club with better facilities with each passing year."

THE SPONSORS.....Astro's Norzaitol, the rose among thorns, poses with Andrew (fourth from left) and the rest of the sponsors for the 9th UKRC - astro International Soccer 9s

Indeed, it was sweet music to the ears of Andrew and his club officials, for it only underlined that their sweat and toil to upkeep and built the club to serve the local community, has not gone unnoticed.

As usual only a small portion of all the sponsorship money is used to organise the tournament and with the bulk going to their kitty and also further improving their facilities further.

The comradeship among the members is exemplary. When Andrew realised that they had bust their budget to organise the tournament (it is learnt about RM10,000 only) and they did not have money for a band for their official dinner on Saturday, he asked the members if they could chip in.

No questions were asked and everyone chipped in and soon they have raised RM1,000 for the three piece band - Alphabeat.

Taking about UKRC and comradeship read what I wrote about them in 2005 in The Malay Mail in my column - Level Field (Read this)

Nothing has changed over the years. The comradeship has only grown further and even the new members who have joined, have fitted like a glove.

UKRC is not just about their soccer tournament. It is a one-stop recreation centre which has a gym, basketball courts, changing rooms, playing field with a pavilion overlooking it,a hall, with activities like yoga, chi-kong, line dancing, table tennis, carom, darts and junior soccer development programme to
cater for both young and old.

To taste the true hospitality and see the comradeship among the members who take so much pride
in their club, be present this Saturday or Sunday.

The added bonus will be to see some vintage soccer played by true sportsmen. Never mind that their heart is willing by their legs are not, it will indeed be a fun filled day of classic international football.

Twelve teams - Gold Coast Koalas (Australia), Prince of Songkla University (Thailand), Korean Football Team , Singapore Recreation Club, Football Referees Association (Singapore), Thrwhitt Old Boys (Singapore), Penang Sports Club, Taiping Chinese Recreation (Perak), Melodi Jaya FC (Johor), Royal Selangor Club and hosts, UKRC.

The champion will receive RM1,000, the challenge trophy replica and 12 medals, the runners-up, RM500, trophy and individual medals, while the losing semifinalist will receive 12 individual medals.

The Plate champion and runners-up will also be awarded individual medals.

There will be three special awards, namely - top scorer, the K. Suppiah Memorial Trophy (The Best Fair Play team) and the Ong Yu Tiang Memorial Trophy for the Best Goalkeeper of the Tournament.

Be there this weekend and witness for yourself what this small community has achieved and capable of. Kudos UKRC.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Never judge the book by the cover!

From Selangor trainer in 1992, Windsor leads the two finalists out onto the pitch as the General Coordinator for the Final featuring France and Italy at the World Cup Germany 2006.

It is really funny how life turns out to be.

I still remember in 1992 when Winsdor John Paul was named as one of the trainers of Selangor, by then team manager Datuk Mazlan Harun. Almost every newspaper asked who Winsdor was?
What qualifications he had to be appointed as trainer and where did he come from?

I interviewed Winsdor and the story appeared in The Malay Mail dated 28th January 1992. Read the short article below:

Paul has what it takes

WINDSOR JOHN Paul  may be a new name to many soccer fans but he is
amply qualified to be Selangor's Semi-pro League trainer.
Selangor manager Mazlan Harun, instead of picking a coach, has
selected two trainers - Paul and Mohamad Shah Norbit.
Mazlan has also picked M. Chandran as his assistant.
Paul, who hails from Kedah, was a teacher in Terengganu before being
posted to Kuala Lumpur in 1990.
The 31-year-old was the FA of Malaysia coaches' instructor last year.
Paul wants a chance to prove himself.
"It is a great honour for me to be given a chance to work with a team
like Selangor," said Paul who holds a FA of Malaysia advanced coaching
certificate and an International Olympic Council Solidarity coaching
"I have always admired the Selangor team and since being in KL have
watched all the matches.
"The opportunity to work with them is something I have always dreamt
of and I hope to contribute to Selangor soccer."
Paul and Mohamad Shah will act strictly as trainees and carry out the
instructions from Mazlan and Chandran.


Today, there is total admiration and accolades showered upon Winsdor. My fellow bloggers have all written about Winsdor. Read the following:

Malaysian Sports and this, Jai Ho, As I see it and Fair Play News.

This is definitely not the last we have seen of Winsdor because he is too valuable a man to soccer and is too young to be showed to the pastures. He is a Malaysian who has put the nation on the world soccer map and we should be proud of him and salute him.

Let us hope that all his knowledge and expertise is used by Malaysia, to put Malaysian football onto the world arena.

Think before you speak or you have to eat your words!

Former national coach B. Sathianathan, who became famous overnight for his statement "Malaysian football is no football" is now the Kelantan coach.

Sathianathan made the statement after the national team's 5-0 lose to United Arab Emirates in an Asian Cup qualifier in January.

Today, he is back to coach a team in a League which he regarded as "no football."

So is he on a mission to make the Malaysian League a top League, or was it the salary that lured him to coach Kelantan, despite having to handle a team in "no football League."

Till today, i wonder why it took Sathianathan so long to come to the realisation that "Malaysian football is no football" and only made his observation known after his team's defeat to UAE.

It puzzles me that Sathianathan who himself grew from the Malaysian league as a Negri Sembilan player and involved in Malaysian soccer for a reasonably longtime, only made his stand at such a late stage.

Did he not know about Malaysian soccer when he took the appointment as national coach and when he was assistant coach to Englishman Allan Harris or when he was assistant coach for the Olympics team - 1997-1999 and 2002-2004.

Sathianathan was rumoured to coach in India and in fact, he was in India when he was supposed to have received a text message from Kelantan FA president (Tan Sri Annuar Musa) to ask him if he was interested to coach Kelantan. He was in Kelantan in a jiffy to take up the appointment.

What Sathianathan said about Malaysian soccer is nothing new. Everyone involved in the game who are passionate, knows for a fact that Malaysian soccer has deteriorated.

However, it is more important what one does to revive Malaysian football and make it better, than to make statements which mean nothing. Sathianathan was the national coach and if he could not make it better, then he should not have taken the job.

It is hoped Sathianathan now proves something with Kelantan to make Malaysian league a better ground.

Best wishes and luck to Sathianathan. It would be interesting to see how he changes Malaysian soccer fortunes overnight.

And Sathianathan is not the only one who has been in a high position in Malaysian soccer and belittled Malaysian soccer, but have not done anything concrete to improve the game.

Many of them are still involved in the local league, moving from one team to another but hardly making a difference to Malaysian football.

Then we have foreign coaches who make their living on Malaysian soil and then ridicule Malaysian soccer.

We had a Technical Director who had a Road Map for Malaysian soccer which only took us lower in our world ranking, and then went to coach a State team. Now he is coaching a club in a neighbouring country.

Another who coached in the Malaysian League before becoming a national coach, is back in Malaysia coaching another State team after all these years.

To make matters worse most of these foreign coaches earned their soccer badges in Malaysia.

Malaysian soccer surely must be the suckers for sweet talkers with a gift of the gap, instead of their football knowledge.

On contrary look at our neighbours Thailand. While Malaysia is still talking about winning the Sea Games gold medal which we last won in 1989, Thailand are talking about the Asian Cup, the Olympics and even the World Cup.

Thailand has just signed on former England captain Bryan Robson on a four-year-contract. The
former Manchester United midfielder is given the task to build a squad capable of reaching the 2014 World Cup finals.

Robson takes over from another Englishman, Peter Reid, who has taken appointment as Stoke City's assistant manager.

Robson has managed four English clubs and his last club was Sheffield United which he quit in February last year.

The difference with Thailand is that they have ambitions, lay down long-term plans and hire top coaches, unlike in Malaysia where we get sweet talked by coaches who make a living out of Malaysian football but have no real interest in the development of the game.

Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and even Laos will continue to over shadow Malaysia for as long as we are short-sighted, are not willing to spend money for the best in the game and neglect grassroot development.

We have something going with the National Under-23 team and let us work on it and use it as a launching pad to put Malaysian football back in the world map!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Check out Johannian Ray Mak!

Check out fellow Johannian, Ray Mak's YouTube page at http://www.youtube.com/makhonkit

Something not to be missed out because he is a great pianist and his renditions are sweet melodies to the ears.

He has also played the school rally, which I have posted in the column (on the right.)

I just met Ray last Saturday at the late Reverend Dato' Brother Lawrence Henry Spitzig's memorial service and dinner at the Cathedral of St John and St John's Institution respectively. Ray sent me an email last night asking me to check out his YouTube and to keep in touch. He is an amazing pianist and mind you, he does not read notes!

Here he played this one in memory of Bro Lawrence.

Enjoy! Well done dear fellow Johannian! Cheer, Cheer and Courage Display, will lead you to your dreams to become a reality one day!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Penny Wise, Pound Foolish!

The government has allocated a RM16 million budget to prepare 19 athletes from four sports - badminton, archery, cycling and diving - for the 2012 London Olympics. (Read the NST report)

The latest, more than one billion ringgit is expected to be splurged on 1Malaysia F1 team through government and private sector initiative (Read here)

Great efforts have been made to justify the sizable F1 investment.(Benefits outweigh F1 Investment)

The Monsoon Cup costs about RM30 million to organise yearly and not to mention that
the location, which was built at a cost of RM250 million. All is fine that so much money is being splashed on sports and great efforts are being made to justify the investment.

My only contention is, if half of all this amount was channeled towards sports development and long term plans to raise the profile and standard of the various sports, we would be sure in line for not one Olympic medal, but many.

Why aren't the private sectors coming forward to assist to lift Malaysian sports where we have a realistic chance of winning Olympic and World titles.

I cannot help but raise the High Performance Training Centre (HPTC) which was planned three years ago to be based at the Tun Abdul Razak Rubber Research
Centre (TARRC) in Hertfordshire, but was received with opposition from day one until it the idea was buried.

National Day celebrations for Malaysians in London at TARRC

Never mind that the East Herts Council Development Control Committee which met on Nov 14, 2007 rejected the application to set up a HPTC at TARRC because the idea had hurdles like the Green Belt Land.

I am writing purely for the benefit of Malaysian sports and athletes through a centre like HPTC in England. The land at TARRC was a Malaysian property and it would have been an ideal training centre through the immersion process.

The Malaysian Under-15 soccer team training at TARRC

Today, we still want to send out athletes overseas for competition and training overseas in preparation for the Olympics. We will just be paying money for all these and no guarantee that the elusive Olympic gold medal will be won at the 2012 in England.

At least if we had centre in England, the cost of sending athletes would have been reduced drastically and at the end of the day, for the money spent we will still have facilities we can call our own which can be used over and over.

I will not go into the benefits of an overseas centre because it has been argued on numerous occasions, but critics just choose to ignore the arguments for reasons best known to themselves.

But today when millions, sorry billions are spend on other areas of sports which benefit the foreigners and private individuals more than anything else, all those critics choose to be silent or express their views in a very subtle manner.

To make matters worse, all those critics on the HPTC project refused to listen to facts and the truth , as they blindly pursued their agenda to stop the project.

For starters, there was no RM490 million budget for the HPTC and despite numerous efforts by then National Sports Council (NSC) director-general, Datuk Dr Ramlan Abd Aziz, to put the record right, he was belittled, called a liar and shown no respect.

Even the revelation on how the RM490 million figure came about, saw the critics refuse to listen to the truth.

The truth of the matter was that that RM490 million figure was first highlighted in the Straits Times in Singapore by their Malaysian correspondent and basically it was a story to say that Malaysia was going have a HPTC.

It was then picked up by Malaysian newspapers and was taken to task from day one.

Another truth was that the story was written by the correspondent who was privy to a copy to a document which was discussed at the Sports Cabinet Committee chaired by the then Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

That document was actually a feasibility study report which Datuk Seri Najib had requested ONLY to determine how much it cost to build any sports facilities in England. The consultants had given a report for a full Sports Complex facilities. Datuk Seri Najib, on being presented the report said that they now know how much it could cost to build the various facilities and asked the report to be put away for reference, as no decision was taken yet on what facilities were going to be built at TARRC.

In that report, it was stated that it would cost 65 million pounds to build the full blown sports complex with all the facilities.

For starters, there was no way that a sports complex could be built as there were the local council of Hertfordshire requirements and restrictions, besides having to share the site with Lembah Getah Malaysia (LGM), the owners of TARCC.

But that report was leaked out and the truth of what transpired at the Cabinet Committee was not disclosed to correspondent, but just told that a HPTC was going to be built.

Datuk Ramlan had in the Press Conference on July 14, 2006, tirelessly tried his best to put across the truth, but the media simply refused to listen to him.

The media asked if it is not 65 million pounds, then how much is it. Datuk Ramlan did not have an answer because no decision was taken on what was going to be built on TARRC pending on approval to build anything on the 40 acre land which already had existing buildings.

Besides, this project moved from one Cabinet meeting to another as Datuk Seri Najib was keeping a close tab.

Finally, after almost year later, in another Sports Cabinet meeting, it was decided that a
ceiling of 10 millions pounds be approved to build only a few essentials facilities for the training centre. Even then the critics were not happy and said that the figured was lowered to 10 million pounds because of their hounding. They still did not approve of the centre.

But as it turned out, the East Herts Council Development Committee rejected the HPTC application and the Brickendonbury project was buried. (Read the East Herts Council Development Committee decision)

A MOU is due to be signed with the University of Bath early next year for our athletes to train there and all this is going to cost us. Besides, not all athletes will be able to train there, because there will be entry requirements unless a special arrangement is made just for training of our athletes. (Training in Bath).

In fact, the training at Bath, University Nottingham and Loughborough University and were all being engaged as early as three years ago, as places where our athletes can train but still stay at the TARRC.

However, because of all the stumbling blocks over the HPTC, all the plans were delayed. In the process, China, with all they money managed to convince to accept them for their training preparations for the England Olympics.

We would have been three years ahead of China, if only our plans had gone according to schedule.

We even had one journalist being quoted in a newspaper in Hertfordshire that when the former had spoken to Malaysian Civil servants that East Herts Council will not allow any development, he was told not to be worried because the deputy prime minister (Datuk Seri Najib) was also the minister of defence.

The journalist was further quoted: "One of them, a very good source of mine, told me that 'the deputy PM is signing a few defence deals in the UK and he will get the right people to lobby for the approval."

I am surprised that this journalist was not hauled under the ISA.

I also wonder if the HPTC project was now mentioned by Datuk Seri Najib as the PM to be re-looked and to proceed, will he get the same opposition.

If there was anything not right about the spending or the deals, it should have been brought up to the proper channel and addressed.

But to kill a project which would have benefited Malaysia sports tremendously is indeed sad. There maybe different opinions on the matter, but say what you like, the idea of HPTC was an idea thought out of the box, innovative and something totally different to address the ailing situation of Malaysia sports.

Even the Sports of England were full of praise of the idea and Roy Warren, the Senior Planning Manager, gave a glowing report of the proposal and gave their full support.

One wonders, why no investigation is done on how much is being spent on maintaining the TARRC and how much money is spent on cutting the grass yearly. Some parts of the centre is even leased out to farmers to bring their herd of sheep to graze, to cut cost of cutting grass!

Some parts of the building are falling apart and it is pitiful site of such a beautiful property owned by Malaysians.

The rejection of the East Herts Council is nothing new in England. Yes, they are very strict and it takes a few rounds of application to convince them.

Bath University, in one of their expansion plans, faced similar situations and only got approval after a few rounds. Applications are rejected if developments disturb the inhabitant of bats! Bath had the problem, and they have to build a cave to relocate the bats before they were allowed to go ahead with their plans!

Malaysia has lost an excellent opportunity to take Malaysian sports to another level and indications are that we will remain Jaguh Kampung forever.

Below is the Press Release by Datuk Dr Ramlan Abd Aziz on the HPTC on July 14 2006, which the media did not believe. Let it go on record that Datuk Ramlan was telling the truth.

Selamat Hari Raya!

Datuk Dr Ramlan Abd Aziz’s (NSC Director-General) Press Release on the High Performance Training Centre, Brickendonbury at the National Sports Council on July 14th 2006

1. The figure of RM490 million for the HTPC in Brickendonbury quoted freely by all major newspapers and electronic media, besides the leader of the Opposition Party, is an absolutely wrong and highly speculative figure.

2. The RM490 million quoted, has never been and is not our costing for this Project. This has already been affirmed in the Parliament on 10th July (Monday) in a written reply by the Sports Ministry whereby it was stated “ the actual cost for the said training centre has not been established because we are still at the early stages of need analysis and the scope for the development of the centre.

3. This project got off ground with the principal approval of the Cabinet Committee for Sports Development (CCSD) chaired by the DPM and 15 Cabinet Ministers.

4. Further to that, as directed by the Cabinet, the National Sports Council (NSC) was instructed to explore the possibility of co-existence with the current occupants – TARRC.

5. TARRC sits on a 40 acre piece of land. The facilities readily available are:

i. Administrative building (offices, meeting rooms, lecture room etc)

ii. Lab building

iii. Staff quarters

iv. Canteen & Kitchen facilities

v. Football field

vi. 10 meter swimming pool

vii. Cricket oval

6. We have to date conducted the feasibility study and now are in the midst of consultation with the Lembaga Getah Malaysia (LGM). In any proposed development project, it is divided into four stages i.e scoping (feasibility study), design, construction and completion/management. Thus, it is clearly underlined that we are only in the first phase. This has been confirmed by the DPM himself in a report from Bangkok today.

7. This only underlines that the huge figure quoted for the development for the project is non-existent. However, on completion of the initial feasibility study, it was reported that it would generally cost 65 million pounds ((RM430 million) to build a full blown sports complex with all facilities available.

8. But clearly that project was not possible because there were the local council of Hertfordshire requirements and restrictions which had to be adhered and that the Sports Ministry would be sharing the site with LGM. Besides, it was never the intention of the Sports Ministry to have a complete sports complex in England, thus went on to dismiss the costing. The Centre is meant to be a hub, forwarding base for our athletes and not a huge sports facility as we have in Bukit Jalil.

9. The rationale behind in wanting to set up this sports hub with the mission to act as an immersion center for selected national athletes and create sports excellence through new training ground and lifestyle strategies.

10. The HPTC strategies included:

i) short-term training center for groups of selected elite athletes

ii) Strategic location, whereby London is seen as the “gate way: to Europe which will enable it to become a “forwarding base” for national athletes.

iii) The field of coaching can be developed as there is a larger pool of skilled coaches all over Europe and cost factor will be minimised as opposed to bringing foreign coaches to Malaysia.

iv) The utilization of existing facilities in an around the Hertfordshire area

v) To have joint programs with schools, universities, sports agencies and clubs in London and Europe

11. Currently over the last seven years till last year, an average of RM 2 million per year has been spent by NSC to send athletes from various sports for overseas training stints. This costing does not include competition costs. Thus, it is strongly felt with the setting up of the “sports hub” in England, expenditure for overseas training will drastically reduced, whilst giving more athletes to experience the “overseas stints”. Above all, Malaysian athletes will have a home away from home in the sports hub in England.

12. It has also to be pointed out that long term overseas stint by athletes under foreign expertise has no doubt brought about success at the highest level. Top of our minds are Nicol David, Josiah Ng, Azlan Iskandar, Ong Beng Hee, Sharon Wee, Ng Shu Wai, Noraseela Khalid, Ben Leong. Alex Lim, Kevin Lim to name few.

13. On a current note, the national junior squash team, who were the “pilot” team to use facilities in Hertfordshire, when they competed in Cologne and Amsterdam, have sent back initial raving reports of the facilities and competition that were available around the HPTC, which proved very useful as run-up to the actual competitions.

The National U-15 team at TARRC

14. The HPTC, may have received flak from various quarters, but the overall benefits for Malaysian sports to move to a new level and long term benefits, outweigh the criticisms. We hope that above clarification and explanation will change the views of many to support this noble and innovative idea to take Malaysian to the next level.

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

In Memory of Datuk Brother Lawrence Henry Spitzig


There will be a memorial church service for the late Datuk Brother Lawrence Henry Spitzig at the Cathedral of St John, Bukit Nanas at 6pm (Sunset Mass) on 19th September, 2009 (Saturday).

This will be followed by dinner at the concourse of the St John's Institution.

All are cordially invited.

Brother Lawrence passed away on 18th August 2009 (Read here) (and here)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

He aint heavy, he is my brother!

updated: pixs at the grave below.

It will be 16 years tomorrow since my brother, Jeyaprakash, passed away after a motorcycle accident on Sept 11, 1993, along 5th mile Jalan Kelang Lama.

He would have been 46 years-old on Nov 7 if he was alive.

I am the eldest in the family of five and he is the second of four brothers and a sister.

Until today, I cannot believe that he is gone. He was too young to have left us and in such a sudden manner. He was a victim of a hit-and-run case. He lay in coma for three days before he passed away.

Somehow, I still blame myself for his death because months before he met the accident, my late mother, sister, Jeyaprakash and my youngest brother Jesu, who were all staying with me, moved out to Puchong.

Jay Jay as Jeyaprakash was affectionately known among his friends, was working at a lawyer’s firm in the day time and at night was deejaying at a club in the city.

He used to finish late normally on the weekends and when he was staying with me at 3rd mile Old Klang road, he would come back as it was close to the city.

But since it was a long ride home to Puchong and it was not all the safe to ride home in the wee hours of the morning, he would sleep at his club and return early in the morning.

It was on his return home that Sunday morning, when he met in the accident near Overseas Union Garden bus stop. It was rumored that a mini bus hit him, but it was never confirmed.

I was at the University Malaya Fifth College playing soccer for the Editorial team in the NSTP Inter-Department Soccer tournament when I received a call from Jesu to inform me of the accident that he was at the Universiti Hospital.

Although, Universiti Hospital was just around the corner from where I was, by the time I reached the Emergency Room, he was already transferred to the General Hospital.

When I reached the General Hospital, he was in the ICU and in a coma. We all prayed that he would come out of it and be back home soon. But it never happened and on Sept. 13th 1993 in the afternoon, I got a call from the hospital to come immediately, as my brother's condition was serious.

I rushed to the hospital with my late father and Jesu, and when I walked into the ICU room, my worst fear came true when I saw his face covered.

I still think that if Chinna (that's what the family call him because being second in the family he was known as Chinnanna - small brother) would be alive today if he had still stayed with me as he would have come home after his work.

Many have tried to console me that it was fate and it was his time to go, but I still can't bring myself to believe that.

This being the fasting month I remember him even more because he used to fast during the whole month because he had many Muslim friends.

He used to say, “How can I eat when all my Muslim friends are fasting. I will fast with them. Besides, I will lose my weight too!”

In addition, my mother would even get up to prepare him sahor and have a meal all prepared for him when he returns home to break fast.

There were many times when my sister, Kasthury and mother, would fast with him because they could not stand him fasting alone.
Moreover, when Hari Raya came, he would ride off in his bike to his friends house in kampongs and spend a few days with them. He was a shining example of a true Malaysian!

For the record, Jay Jay, is not a Muslim, but my two other brothers, Jesu Adam and Johan Jothi, are both converts. Johan has been working in the Middle East for more that 20 years now.

Every year without fail, I would put a memoriam in The New Straits Times in memory of him. However, this year I did not because of financial difficulties since I was laid off work in February.
Now that I have started this blog, I decided to pay tribute to Jay Jay here and at least in this blog, I can finally say what has been in my heart all this while.

Chinna, was affectionate about football as I am. He used to follow The Malay Mail team for matches wherever possible and was my No 1 supporter as the coach and manager of the team.

He was always there to help prepare the drinks, pump the balls and carry the soiled jerseys. He was a confidant to many of my players and sometimes I would hear their occasional woes through him and tried my level best to address them.

He was like a member of the team and was there to share one of my proudest moments in the game when Malay Mail defeated the star-studded City Hall team by a solitary goal scored by Daniel Sinnappah to win the KLFA Dunhill Cup in 1998.

City Hall SC had the likes of Rashid Hassan, Tang Siew Seng, Razip Ismail, Mat Zan Mat Aris, Saidin Osman, Hashim Marman to name a few.
THE VICTORIOUS TEAM.......Jay Jay (standing sixth from the left) with the then known Sharp Malay Mail team who won the KLFA Dunhill Cup beating City Hall FC at the Bandar Tun Razak Stadium in 1998. Squatting fifth from the right is the match winner...Daniel Sinappah. Rocky Bru is on the far right. This team had the likes of K. Kannan, See Kim Seng, M. Pavalamani. V. Suresh and S. Tamilarasan, all who had played in the M-League.

As brothers, we were close despite the five years difference in age. But like in all families, we have our fair share of arguments too. And he being a Scorpion, was strong headed and there were times where we had screaming battles.

But today, I wished all that did not happen and I can go back in time to change all that. I don’t know if Chinna will hear me, but from the bottom of my heart, I want to apologise for all those heated moments.

I know it is too late to change things, and I wished I could have done more for him and that he was still around for me to have those arguments all out of love all over again.

However, it is impossible for now. I hope to meet you one day and personally apologise and make up for all the lost time.

I miss him very much and so does my sister and brothers. My parents have joined him and we are left here all alone.

We will be visiting his grave in Meru, Klang tomorrow morning to pay respect. My parents graves are next to his and it will indeed be a touching moment.

Chinna's grave and on the background where my parents were laid to rest.

My parents graves

To his friends and relatives, whom he might have touched in one way or other, please remember him in your prayers.

Lord grant Jeyaprakash eternal rest and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace and God Bless him forever!

For the Sake (Sale) of the Game?

The idea and the birth of the Professional Footballer's Association of Malaysia (PFA Malaysia) which was officially launched on Thursday, all sounds good.

Somehow, I am sceptical about the whole setup. Yes, it is only a protem committee and new committee will be elected soon.

It was a very impressive and professional launch at a hotel in, but the composition of the people present did not authenticate the event.

Missing in numbers were the professional soccer players themselves, except for seven National U-23 who were regarded as the pioneer members of the association. Also not present were the icons of Malaysian footballers, except for Bakri Ibni and Zainal Abidin Hassan, the coaches, and the officials from the State FAs.

Yes, the FA of Malaysia secretary-general, Datuk Azzuddin Ahmad was present and Deputy Sports Commissioner, Mohd Salleh Ramli officially endorsed the PFA and was the VIP for the event. But something did not gel in the event.

ONE FOR THE PFA MALAYSIA ALBUM......(standing from left) Subramaniam, Chelliah, Mohd Salleh, Azzuddin and the seven pioneer members from the National Under-23 squad.

PFA Malaysia general secretary, E.R. Subramaniam was holding court from start to finish, that protem chairman, Dhinesh Chelliah, was totally overshadowed.

Speaking of Chelliah or popularly known as dc, as is his array of printing companies which all start with initials dc, he seemed lost in the event.

The organisers for the event were from dc companies, which left many wondering what a printing company was doing in a professional footballers’ association setup.

Call cards distributed by the organisers at the event, all bore the name of the company dc instead of the newly established PFA Malaysia cards!

If they are in the process of printing the cards, one wonders how come all the folders, programme cards, brochures in the bags, notepad, and T-shirts were all ready for the event.

But it was learnt that dc are the main financial backer and involved from the beginning in the set up of PFA Malaysia.

Little wonder that the folders, programme cards, brochures, the bags and notepads, were all impressive and of high quality.

Then the tagline for PFA Malaysia caught the eyes of many – For the Sake of the Game. (Should it not be For the Sake of the Players). One quick look at their taglline and one would have mistaken it For The Sale of the Game!

Do not be mistaken though that the objectives and the benefits for the players are all noble.

Among the objectives, include:

To bring together all the members in Malaysia regardless of their race, religion, gender or politics;

To improve and uplift the level of professionalism and the standard of the game

To educate and develop our players in every aspect of the game

To pursue and defend the rights of professional football players

To provide a career path after football

The benefits for the players include:

Legal representation
Players’ Image Right
Community Acceptance
Recognition of Players
Collective Bargaining Agreements
Players’ Voice as One

Assuming that PFA Malaysia will be working hand in hand with the FA of Malaysia, I would have thought that the former would have struck an agreement with the national body to ensure that all the professional players who sign up with FAM to be automatically registered with PFA.

This way, they can fulfill their objective to be the voice of professional players in the country and to act as the collective bargaining agent.

This will similar like all the unions for the various professions.

However, membership to PFA is voluntary. This would mean that players who are not registered with the PFA will not see their welfare being looked into.

What about several professional players who have recently left the scene frustrated of non-payment from the State FAs.

Subramaniam said that they will only look into welfare or plights of players who are currently professionals.

As a new entity in Malaysian football, one would have thought that they would have started off by helping some of the professional players who had to leave the game because of non-payment of salaries to become drivers and security guards.

This would have been seen as a noble gesture and would have been a selling point for the new establishment.

But now, these former players probably will have to register themselves as Associate members, if they are allowed, before any form of help can be rendered.

Lastly, something tells me that the presence of a private company in the setup is a business venture to reap from merchandising, branding and commercial deals for players.

It is fine to have the experts working from the outside as consultants with PFA for the above, but to have them being part and parcel of the setup, certainly looks like conflict of interest.

It is hoped that the setting up of PFA under the present scenario does not lead to more disputes. If that happens, who is going to resolve these issues?

It is learnt that a seminar in collaboration with the FA of Malaysia a seminar will be held for players, officials and coaches of the M-league. It is hoped that a clearer picture is painted in the seminar and any doubts are cleared once and for all.

For now, congratulations to PFA Malaysia for having made the move to set up the organisation, but hopefully was kicked off on the right note.

The last thing we need in our soccer scene is another controversy!

Monday, September 7, 2009

A1 Team goes 1Malaysia

Release from A1 Team

The unity initiative recently launched by Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, the Prime Minister of Malaysia called "1Malaysia", is a philosophy which is close to the heart of A1 Team Malaysia.

The motor racing team which represents the country in the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport, the nation-versus-nation international racing series, was conceived five years ago with the aim of drawing together Malaysians to form na national racing team.

The team embodies 1Malaysia with a crew which is both multi-racial and multi-denominational and competes for the pride of the country, for the pride of Malaysia!

A1 Team Malaysia is a team made up of ethnic Malays, Indians with diverse religious backgrounds, Muslims of Chinese and Malay origin (as represented in the picture) as well as Caucasians.
The fundamental concept of 1Malaysia is an appreciation of the diversity of the nation's people; its goal is to preserve and enhance this unity and cultural diversity whilst recognising that everyone shares a desire for a better tomorrow, within the bounds of opportunity, respect, friendship and understanding. 1Malaysia energetically reinforces this and encourages
everyone to define Malaysia and the role Malaysians must play in its future.

A1 Team Malaysia is proud to represent the nation on a global platform, showcasing national brands and companies by using the powerful medium of motorsport. Since its inception, the team has recruited and developed its own Malaysian crew of specialist race mechanics and technicians, as well as commercial people, who are now in demand from other high-profile
international teams, having been given the necessary top-level international motorsport training and experience.

Jack Cunningham, Chief Executive, A1 Team Malaysia says of 1Malaysia, "A1 Team Malaysia wholeheartedly supports the ethos of this initiative and applauds Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak for creating a forum for nurturing, promoting and encouraging the nation to consider the future and recognising the importance of unity within the diversity of the population.

In our team we only succeed through focussing on a common goal of uniting together with the purpose of achieving excellence. In our case this is to be victorious at A1GP racing events but, whether we cross the line first or not, ultimately our success is measured in the strength of our teamwork and how we strive together to win.

Therefore, it is highly appropriate and relevant that we now incorporate the 1Malaysia logo in to our own. This is a very satisfying and relevant progression of our motorsport brand."

The team has been competing in the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport for the past four years and has consistently finished in the top 10 in an illustrious, yet short, life-time and is regarded as a potential championship title contender having finished 6th overall of the 22 teams competing in the last season.

The A1GP World Cup of Motorsport has grown its annual world wide audience from 60,000,000 to in excess of 100,000,000 in 4 years.

The series is carried by 80 broadcasters world-wide and enjoys a growing regional audience.

In Malaysia the proud and loyal home TV audience now exceeds 2,000,000, with an average of 10,000,000 people watching every race world-wide.

A1 Team Malaysia has a web-based fan club of more than 35,000 members with whom the team communicates on a weekly basis.

The team is currently preparing for a new season of racing which starts next month at Surfers Paradise in Australia, 23-25 October 2009.

Check out the website (A1 Team).

Keep feet firm on the ground

It's good to hear FA of Malaysia deputy president, Datuk Redzuan Sheikh Ahmad change his tune towards the target of the Laos Sea Games in December.

Earlier, after the friendly matches against visiting Manchester United, he predicted that the Sea Games gold was within Malaysia's grasp.(Read here)

But on Sunday, in The Sunday Times, Redzuan was reported as saying that FA of Malaysia will set realistic targets and will only set its target after analysing the draw which is expected to be made in November. (Read here)

Wise move Redzuan and no shame in going back on your bold gold medal prediction.

It is without doubt that the National Under-23 team coached by K. Rajagobal, is coming under tremendous pressure after a string of creditable performances against formidable teams.

Rajagobal's team have so far defeated visiting Zimbabwe represented by Monomotapa United (classified as A-International match) 4-0 and 1-0, lost to Manchester United 2-3, 0-2, played to a scoreless draw against visiting China and Kenya, before travelling to Middle East where they lost 1-2 to Saudi Arabia, 0-1 to professional outfit Al-Qadisiya and held Jordan to a scoreless draw on Sunday.

Already newspaper headings like "Malaysia lose again" and "Another draw", indicate the mounting pressure that is already on the shoulders of this team.

It certainly does not help to get added pressure from the FA of Malaysia.

However, at the same time, I am not saying that there should not be targets. There should be targets, but REALISTIC targets.

Redzuan's current stand to only set the target after the Laos Sea Games soccer draw only makes sense because if by the luck of draw, Malaysia gets drawn into a "Death Group" of top teams in the region, it is going to be tough to make the semifinals.

Let us not forget that Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia and Myanmar are ranked above Malaysia in Asia and teams like Vietnam and even Laos have defeated Malaysia.

Yes, the current Under-23 team is showing good signs of a fromidable team, but they cannot become champions over time but only through time.

A modest target for the Sea Games would be to reach the semifinals and then take it from there.

Let us also be reminded that the last time Malaysia won the Sea Games was at the Kuala Lumpur Games in 1989 under English coach Trevor Hartley.

While we cannot dream to be champions overnight, we also cannot continue to give the excuse that it has been 20 years since we won the title and thus it is going to be difficult.

Probably, this is a good chance for Malaysia to make the final, but let us not get our hopes high.

Rajagobal needs to be given some time to whip this team into shape. We still lack in several areas and one glaring area is our strike force.

And we cannot turn out strikeforce into scoring machines overnight either.

Another factor, Rajagobal should pay attention is to injuries to players. If it is injuries suffered in the course of game like a fractured leg, ankle or hand, it is part and parcel of the game.

However, if it is muscular injuries, then Rajagobal has to look at the condition of the players. Many of the players when they return to their respective States do not take care of themselves with proper nutritions and strengthening their muscles.

And when they report for national training, they come back not fully fit and when put through their tough regiment of national training, they breakdown.

Rajagobal is an experienced coach who adheres to sports science and keeps tabs of his players even they are not with him. He should be able to minimise this problem, but at the end of the day, it still boils down to the individual players as professionals to look after themselves.

Rajagobal is indeed on the right track with his team and it is hoped that there are no interuptions to his plannings and the best support is given to him. Playing against higher ranked teams, is certainly the best thing that could have happened to his team.

It is hoped that it is continued until the Sea Games and let us all hope that the team will give us something to shout about.

Afterall it has been a long time since Malaysian soccer fans have tasted success - even if it is at the lowest level - the Sea Games. Even an appearance in the final, will be something to shout about.

But whatever happens, this team must be given the full support and time to blossom into its true potential.

The squad:

GOALKEEPERS: Farizal Marlias (Perlis), Syed Adney Syed Hussien (MyTeam)

Mazlizam Mohamad (Perlis), Sabre Mat Abu (Kedah), Asraruddin Putra Omar (Selangor), Aidil Zafuan Abdul Razak (N.Sembilan), Azmi Muslim (MyTeam), Faizal Mohammad (Harimau Muda)

Amar Rohidan (Perlis), Khyril Muhymeen Zambri (Kedah), Baddrol Bakthiar (Kedah), Amirulhadi Zainal (Selangor), Kunal an Subramaniam (N.Sembilan), Bunyamin Umar (MyTeam), Mahalli Jasuli (Harimau Muda), Muslim Ahmad (Harimau Muda), Gurusamy Govandar Kandasamy (Harimau Muda), Mahathevan Gengatharan (Shahzan Muda), Safiq Rahim (KL Plus)

Ahmad Fakri Saarani (Perl is), Zaquan Adha Abdul Razak (N.Sembilan), Norshahrul Idlan Talaha (MyTeam), Ahmad Shakir Md Ali (Harimau Muda), Farderin Kadir (Kuala Muda).