Monday, May 24, 2010

Blooming into a beautiful game

What started off an experimental tournament between Philippines and Malaysia has now become a permanent feature.
Last year, only four teams, including X-Mail Veteran, competed in the inaugural tournament in October.
The tournament saw X-Mail team bring the winning trophy, medals, souvenir T-Shirts and even the official programme for the competition.
This year, we have a brand new beautiful pewter Challenge Trophy donated by a strong supporter of X-Mail and a prominent figure in Malaysia, Dato’ Abdullah Hishan. He has also donated the replica trophy which the champion will keep.
The second edition of the tournament this year has also seen the number of teams competing grow from four to ten. Although the format has been changed from 11-a-side to 9-a-side, the tournament without doubt is gaining momentum and popularity.
While last year it was rekindling the fire in Philippines for X-Mail who have been having a long standing relationship with the Philippines FA dating back to 1991 when we competed in the inaugural Philippines Cup in Iloilo City, it is now going to be revisiting to forge a permanent relationship.
X-Mail, then known as The Malay Mail FC has besides the Philippines Cup played several friendly matches in Manila too. We have also had hosted the Philippines national in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia.
The X-Mail Veterans have a long history which dates back to 1987 when The Malay Mail soccer team was formed to compete in the Kuala Lumpur FA Dunhill League.
Infact, the team itself had been in existence since the 70s, when it was known as the New Straits Times team, which competed in the annual NST/Straits Times Singapore annual games.
The Malay Mail team itself started with employees of the New Straits Times, The Malay Mail and Berita Harian, as club team competing in the KL Dunhill League. Starting off in 1987, playing in the domestic league, the team’s achievement saw it  become the first club team from the city of Kuala Lumpur to qualify for the BIG League – The Malaysian League to play in the Division Two - as KL Malay Mail FC.
Over the years, the team has evolved from a company team to club team and finally a Semi-Pro team playing in the M-League Division Two from 2000 – 2002.
However, the end of 2003, saw the end of The Malay Mail team after almost 15 years in existence owing to financial problems – the team had to source for it’s own funds and did not receive any monetary aid from the newspapers. Infact, it was wonder that the team survived for 15 years on a shoe-string budget which shamed many top teams in Malaysia.
Last year in May, saw the rebirth of the Malay Mail team, but as veterans.
Not wanting to let such a rich tradition and history suffer a natural death, players who have at one time or other played for The Malay Mail team with in the Dunhill League, FAM Cup, FA Cup or M-League Division 11, were invited to play in a friendly match against a local community club UKRC, who also have a longstanding relationship with X-Mail.
Some 200 players have played for The Malay Mail team over the years, which included several top names like Dahlan Zainuddin, R. Subramaniam, Zainal Abidin Hassan, K. Kannan, M. Pavalamani, Chow Siew Yai, See Kim Seng, Subadron Aziz, S. Silvarajoo, Lim Teong Kim, S. Balachandran, Mohd Faridzul Kassim, S. Tamilarasan, K. Viajantheran, Ramlan Askolani, V. Suresh and N. Suresh to name a few. Many young players too have graduated from our team to become national players and two of them include Mohamad Imran and S. Surenthiran.
For the historical veteran’s friendly match against UKRC last May some 30 odd players, who are true blue Malay Mail players who decided to keep the flame of the team burning and turned up.
The rest is history. The team decided to return to Philippines as veterans last October and the inaugural Philippines-Malaysia Veteran Soccer Tournament was born.
Last year, despite a depleted side, X-Mail managed to finish runners-up to host Bacolod United FC.

Last year's team before the final
 This year, we have come as a truly Malaysia-Philippines team because we have four Filipino guest players to underline our true comradeship with Philippines.
Hopefully, we will do better than last year, but with the competition expected to be much tougher, we will be happy just to be a good participant to ensure to the success of the tournament.
The team thanking the supporters after the final
But we are looking forward to next year, when we will be hosting the 3rd Philippines-Malaysia International Veterans Soccer Festival, where we hope to invite teams from other Asean countries too. We hope Philippines will be represented by a few teams as we try to return the great hospitality shown to us in Bacolod City.
Here’s wishing all the participating teams all the very best and may the team that plays in the best spirit of the game with Fair Play being held to the highest order, and survive the tournament with their fitness and true classy display, win the tournament.

The team for this year's tournament:
Team X-Mail: Tengku Noriza Tengku Ramli (Team President); Tony Mariadass (Manager/Coach); Alwin Rajasurya (Asst.Manager); Athoneysamy Lourdusamy; Chandrawathie Farmadsa (Team Officials)
Goalkeepers: Fareez Prem Raj; Robert Choa; Defenders: Hasnul Ramlan Khairuddin (Team Captain); Masaaud Zain; Md Mashraf Mustakim; R. Subramaniam; Midfielders: V. Kalimutu; P. Vijian; Eduardo Perez; Strikers: Anto Richard Gomez; U. Supramaniam; Alberto Salvacion, Jesse Risalieu S. Ricabo.
The team departs on Thursday midnight for the tournament and will make a stop-over in Manila on June 1st and 2nd. On June 1, they will play a friendly match at Clark Air Base Parade ground against Clark International FA

Friday, May 21, 2010

X-Mail do their bit for charity at the Philippines-Malaysia Veteran Soccer Tournament

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Your source of Philippine community news

Friday, May 21, 2010 at 5:55:26 p.m.

THE X-Mail Veteran football club (FC), will be making some contributions to the soccer team of Handumanan Elementary School on Monday after the end of the 2nd Philippines-Malaysia International Veteran Soccer Festival in Bacolod City on May 29-30.
The X-Mail FC is no newcomers to Bacolod City, having come here regularly in the 90s to compete in the Philippines Cup soccer tournament.
Now, this team from the Malay Mail newspaper return to continue their longstanding friendship with Bacolod City, as veteran soccer players.
 Led by team leader and coach Tony Mariadass, who was instrumental in reviving the relationship between Bacolod City and X-Mail team last year, when the inaugural Philippines-Malaysian veteran soccer tournament was started, has always had a soft spot for assisting the development of soccer in Bacolod City.
Last year, the team had also made a similar presentation to Handumanan Elementary School at the Panaad Stadium during the tournament, through the assistance of former Philippines Football Association secretary-general, Edward Magalona, a good friend of Mariadass, when they competed in last year's tournament.
 Last year's presentation to Handumanan Elementary School at the Panaad Stadium
 Among the contributions they made included jerseys, soccer balls and donations from Milo which included T-Shirts and Milo drink sachets.
 This year, X-Mail will go to the school to make the presentation which will include contributions from Milo and Bata, who have graciously sponsored shoes for the poor children.
"This is our small contribution to the development of soccer in Bacolod City especially in assisting poor children who love the game of soccer but are hampered to progress because of lack of equipment because they cannot afford it," said Mariadass
 "It may be a small contribution, but we will return happy that we have made some contribution to help the poor children enjoy the game of soccer better.
"We thank sponsors Milo and Bata, who are leading sponsors and contributors to sports in Malaysia, especially at the grassroots level, to have come forward to assist us in realizing our hopes to help the children in Bacolod City."
The entire X-Mail team will be present at a simple presentation ceremony at 9am on May 31 at the Handumanan Elementary School campus. (HCV)

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on May 17, 2010.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Foreign players issue up in the air again!

Several State FAs including Kelantan FA are already pushing for the inclusion of foreign players in the M-League and is expected to be a hot issue at the FA of Malaysia Congress in July.
The reasons they give for the inclusion of foreign players include that all Asean countries have foreign players in the local league, the defeats suffered by Malaysian teams in AFC tournaments, it will attract the fans and fill the stadium, improve the Malaysian soccer standard and other reasons I cannot comprehend.
Basically for me, I think these States FAs who are asking for the inclusion of foreign players, but being plain selfish! They are just thinking of their team doing well and have no interest of the national team.
It does not matter to them, if the national players lack quality players and drop further in the world ranking.
It does not matter to the that at least two or three local players will be denied an opportunity to play in their own league.
It does not matter to them if the national team does not have strikers or midfielders, because all these positions will be filled by the foreigners in the M-League.
I have written at length on my thoughts over the inclusion of foreign players in my earlier posting titled: Foreign players will improve Malaysian soccer? (Read here)

I stand by what I have posted and I strongly believe it is not the right time to allow the foreigners on Malaysian soil again.
Let the Malaysian soccer reach a formidable standard before we go to the next level to bring the foreigners.
Many may not agree with my thoughts, but I strongly believe in having a strong base before we venture out to bring in foreign elements!
If need be, bring in top class foreign coaches to lay the strong foundation with good development programmes and top level coaching. But make sure that these coaches are given a long term contract.
Rome was not built in a day! For the matter, Malaysia is not what it is today overnight!

Will NSAs ever reject Government funding?

The Indian Olympics Association (IOA) is seriously contemplating to stop accepting government funding and have received majority support from their national associations in their general assembly on Tuesday.
Of course, a few smaller associations said that they still needed the funding.
One of the main reasons for wanting to reject the government funds was as the autonomy of IOA.
Infact,a letter from the IOA secretary-general, Randhir Singh has been dispatched to the Sports Ministry to that effect dated March 31.
India Olympic Association secretary-general, Randhir Singh, has written a letter dated March 31, incidentally the last day of financial year 2009-10, to the government informing that the body would no longer need funding from it.
"As the autonomy of the National Olympic Committee of India - the Indian Olympic Association is supreme, the Indian Olympic Association would like to desist from receiving any further financial support from the government of India from financial year 2010-11," the letter said.
Read the report in the Hindustan Times here.
Even the International Olympic Council backs IOA's move on financial freedom. Read Times of India's report here.
Update: On Monday IOA received a shot in the arm with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Samsung India, whereby the digital technology company will sponsor the Indian contingent at the Guangzhou Asian Games in November.
Samsung will also provide scholarships to 10 top-ranking players across individual sporting disciplines to bear their training expenses.

One wonders, if NSAs in Malaysia will ever make such a stand to cut the financial support from the Government?
It is no secret that Malaysian sports is heavily funded by the Government and that the National Sports Council exists to disperse these funds and monitor. Infact, NSC goes a step further and even conducts training, especially development athletes and hire coaches.
If ever, NSAs in Malaysia decide that they can stand on their own feet or with funds from the OCM, NSC will be put out of a job!
But it is very unlikely that NSAs in Malaysia, or even for the matter OCM, will take such a decision because it is a marriage of convenience with NSC - the government agency.

IOA rejects tenture regulations

A defiant Indian Olympic Association on Tuesday spurned Sports Ministry's tenure limitation guidelines even though there was a voice of dissent against IOA President Suresh Kalmadi's "dictator-like" functioning.
IOA's general body and the Executive Council, which met at the Olympic Bhawkalmadistory.jpgan here, ruled out amending constitution to accommodate tenure limitation for its office-bearers as is wished by the Sports Ministry.
"The Special General Body unanimously resolved that IOA and NSFs would decline to accept the Government guidelines to protect their autonomy in accordance with IOC Charter and International Federations' Statutes," the IOA said in a statement.
"No steps will be initiated by IOA/any NSF to amend their Constitution to incorporate any provisions/ part of these Guidelines as this will be seriously in breach of the Olympic Charter and render the IOA/NSFs vulnerable to suspension and deprive their teams from International participation," it added.
The IOA completely ignored Sports Ministry's advise to discuss the tenure limitation issue in yesterday's meeting.
The Ministry wants to fix the IOA and NSF President's tenure at 12 years with or without the break. The secretary generals and the treasurers' tenure is fixed at eight years at a stretch by the the ministry regulations, which also advocates a retirement age of 70.If implemented, the regulation would end the reign of Kalmadi and NSF chiefs including VK Malhotra (archery), Jagdish Tytler (judo) and Dhindsa, along others.
IOA, however, enjoys the backing of both the International Olympic Committee and the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) while the Sports Ministry has offered to send an official to IOC headquarters in Switzerland to sort out the issue.
In his speech, Kalmadi said that the guidelines are an assault on the IOA and NSFs' autonomy."It is time to correct some impressions that the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports has created," Kalmadi said.
"First and foremost, the Olympic Charter states clearly that only the National Olympic Committee has the right to decide the terms of office for the office-bearers and executive members," he said.
He also sought to dismiss the notion that IOA and NSFs were wasting public money, alleging the Sports Ministry created this impression by showing as grants to NSFs the money spent on training the athletes.Lashing out at Sports Ministry's letter to IOC in which they sought a meeting, Kalmadi said, "A Joint Secretary writing about it to the IOC President, we cannot have this kind of arrogance."
IOA Secretary General Randhir Singh, who is an IOC member and the Olympic Council of Asia's Secretary-General, said if the Ministry continued to insist on imposing the guidelines on IOA and NSFs, India could be left out of the Olympic Movement.
Parliamentarian Tarlochan Singh rejected Ministry's claims that the Parliament had backed the decision to impose the guidelines.
"During a discussion in the Rajya Sabha on the working of the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports on April 22, 2010, just two of the 21 members made any mention of tenures of office-bearers of National Sports Federations. To say that Parliament was seized of the issue is to paint a false picture," he said.
IOA senior vice-President and Archery Federation of India chief V K Malhotra called the Ministry's guidelines "draconian".
The IOA said the government can appoint its own officials to disburse the money set aside for athletes' training if it didn't want the IOA's involvement.
"Sports Authority of India (SAI) with over 200 Officers and staff on which the Ministry spends Rs 20 crore every year including on Teams Wing, will be proposed for disbursing the funds. The Government spends directly on the athletes as a part of its social responsibility for which the Parliament makes a sanction in the budget," the IOA said. - Press Trust of India

Why did all these comments not come before a failure?

I read with utter surprise and disgust, all the comments coming freely after the failure of the Malaysian badminton team to reach the final of the Thomas Cup.
The very people who had thrown support and even said that Malaysia will win the Thomas Cup, now have come out to criticise.
From BAM being guilty of not having a back-squad of quality players, aging players, technical aspects, diet and the list goes on, have now surfaced not from experts, but from many who are just ardent supporters of the game because they are in a position where they have to engage themselves.
So why were all these observations not made while the team was in preparatory stages and the various championships they had competed before that.
Prior to the Thomas Cup, from the Prime Minister downwards, were all full of praise for the team and upbeat especially after Datuk Lee Chong Wei's All-England triumph. All were talking about winning the Thomas Cup.
No one came forward to tell the truth of the team's real chances and everyone was hoping a miracle will happen.
But instead, there was chaos in the BAM with their internal problems - from sponsorship deals, sacking of the secretary-general, coaches taken to task, players dictating their terms, chess games and cloak and dagger scenarios among officials.
It was one of the poorest preparations for a Thomas Cup campaign with no focus at all. But no one addressed it or come out in the open to make it known.
Everyone wanted to be the good guy.
Now, everyone has their theory and excuses. It is too late!
This is Malaysian sports. No one dares to call a spade, a spade!
We have have false hopes, never want to accept reality and are full of dreams without putting in maximum honest and dedicated effort.
BAM was suppose to be one of the best administered sports associations in the country. What happened?
Sports politics and agendas found it's way to the association and the sports suffered!
In the end, the players and coaches become the victims, while all the decision and king makers and the hand-ons, remain, to drag the game further through mud.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Asian Bowling Digest 2010 - 2nd Issue

Other highlights:
#Esther Cheah's Diary from Nebraska
#Focus on Philippines
# Events: ABF Tournament of Champions, Thai Open, Saudi Open etc
Cara Honeychurch helms TBA #Greatest Bowler of all Time passes Away #Regulars: Products - Brunswick/2010 Calendar BOWLING ENTHUSIASTS DO NOT MISS OUT! SUBSCRIBE YOUR COPY TODAY!  Subscribe now: E-Mail: Malaysia - RM 96.00 Asian Countries - USD50.00 Europe - USD60.00 USA - USD73.00 Prices above include of 2 years (12 issues) subscription and postage   OR GET A COPY AT writetrack  Publishing & Communictions Sdn. Bhd No 10 & 10.1, Jalan Kuchai Maju 6, 58200, Kuala Lumpur. Tel: 603-7987 1889

A mask could help the athletes during Commonwealth Games

The Commonwealth Games in Delhi in October is declared the Green Games, but participants had better bring a mask as a precautionary measure.
The organisers are doing everything within their means to clean up the air in time for the Games, but it could prove an uphill task.
It is no secret that the air in Delhi is choked with tiny, toxic particles that travel to the deepest parts of the lungs.
I have got a cold and cough I am still trying to get rid off and it has been four weeks.
Recently data available from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) and it was not encouraging.
An assessable made by the Centre for Science and Envioroment said that the air could affect the performance of athletes.
However, a pollution monitoring system developed by Indian scientists has come for praise from the United Nations as an important step to ensure clean air during the Commonwealth Games.
The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), a specialised agency of UN, said the System of Air Pollution Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) will serve as example within India, South Asia and globally.
The Delhi government has also been pinning its hopes for clean air during the Games on people switching over to mass transport systems.
However, with 1,100 vehicles being added to Delhi streets every day, despite a flourishing Metro system and new low-floor buses, experts say that unless private vehicles are curbed, nothing can be done to salvage the capital's air quality.
Delhi may even have to take drastic measures like forcefully removing vehicles from the roads, like Beijing did even though it had started work on improving its air quality 10 years before it hosted the Olympics Games in 2008.
The Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology has lauched several initiatives, but while the first phase has been successful, a major policy on transport looks imminent.
Among the measures which have been taken by the authorities in their effort to make the air cleaner include:
*Relocation of industrial units
*Introduction of Euro-IV standard fuel
*Phasing out of commercial vehicles older than 15 years
*Closure of coal-based plant in city
*Extending reach of Metro rail
* Promotion of battery-operated vehicles
* All buses, three-wheelers and a great part of taxis run on CNG
*Transit freight traffic is restricted
*Controls on power plants are tighter
*Opening burning is banned

The Delhi government is doing its best to improve the quality of air, but at the end of the day, the awareness of the people of Delhi and their cooperation, will play a key role in achieving their goals of making Delhi air cleaner!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Incredible Delhi!

It will be four weeks tomorrow since I arrived in New Delhi and it has been an experience and more to come, I am very sure.
Some of it has been pleasant and some could have been better.
However, I had not come here expecting a bed of roses. Besides, I came here to share my 29 years of experience in the Media especially having covered multi-sports Games namely, the Olympics, Asian Games, Commonwealth Games and Sea Games and having worked with a Sports Minister for two years and with the Tourism Ministry for a year. I am here to help them in anyway I can and I am proud that I have been given an opportunity to be part of the Games preparation.
I am attached with the Delhi 2010 Organising Committee's Press Operations team, headed by Manish Kumar, a former journalist in India.
He has a very young team, but a team who work very hard, dedicated and are passionate about their job. There is another foreign hire besides me and he is Stefan Thies, a German, (yes a German) who has been with the team since last year whose forte is athletics media work and mixed zones.
I have been enjoying my work here and Manish and his team has made me more than welcome in their team.
However, there are going to be tough days ahead before the Games, as everything is put in place and I am looking forward to be in the thick of action, as we try to put the best for the Media for the Games.
But in this blog, I would rather write about experiences outside my work which has left an impression on me.
Among the things that has virtually mesmerised me is the driving in New Delhi. I have heard a great deal of Indian driving, with many saying that if you can drive in India, one can drive anywhere in the world.
I thought so too , until I experienced it first hand.
Yes, it takes a great deal to be able to drive in New Delhi because it is free-for-all as everyone as the right to way.
No one stops at roundabouts or cross junctions, unless there is a traffic light. Even with the traffic lights, cars cut into the opposite lanes to make their right turns. Two way traffic flowing lanes become one, at the wink of the eye.
Of course, honking is part and parcel of the system. Buses, lorries and vans all have the words - HONK PLEASE - written at the back of their vehicles.
What amazed me was that no one gets angry or shows a finger at you. In Malaysia we have road bullies and if they come here to India, they will have their hands full!
Yes, almost every vechicle on the road has dents, but I have yet to see an accident in my four weeks!
My driver, a former State body building champion, Amit Malik, is a champion on the road too that I have named him "Amit the King of Delhi Roads! He manages to squeeze his Suzuki Wagon into the smallest of space available, stops the car millimeters behind cars, crosses lanes from right to left and left to right in jam packed road with ease and weaves in an out of the jam with such skills.
Never once has he abused anyone or has anyone abused him. And he is a safe driver - he does not speed!
And they do use the side rear mirrors on their cars.They are drawn inward. When I asked Amit, why they do not use the rear mirrors, he simply replied: "We will have to replace our mirrors everyday then Sir. We need every inch to get into tight spaces in the traffic and also we have all the motorcycles whom we have to worry about, because they too weave in and out."
However, the moment Amit got out of city zone, he had the side rear mirrors drawn out.
The driving maybe chaos, but I salute them for keeping the traffic moving and without any accidents!
When I told an senior officer in the Director-General's office, Anshul Kwatra, who has been to Malaysia, that he would have had a breeze driving in our country, he retorted: No, I did not. I had a nightmare!"
When asked him why did he have problems, he simply replied: "There are simply too many rules to follow!"
The other which has caught my attention while driving to and back from work, is all the work that is being done to get everything spick and span before the Games. These include the Metro Line from the Airport to the city, the roadworks to widen the roads, installing new street lights, the pavements, retaining walls and all the beautifying projects.

It saddens me to see all the women working carrying bricks and cement on top of their heads, some have their children tagging them and working under the sweltering sun.
Sometimes I wonder with no modern machinery and depending solely on the work force, whether they can get everything ready.

But with each passing day, that thought has been erased because of the pace of work that is done.
There have been days when I go to work in the morning, the workers would just be digging to lay the payments or walls, but when I return in the evening, I see a well laid pavement or even a  retaining wall erected!

When I asked why modern machinery was not used to do the work, the reply was: "What will happen to all these people. They will not have a job!"
When the Commonwealth Games is held here in October and everything is in place, many of the visitors will not know the crucial role these workers had played to bring the Games to New Delhi.
I would like to salute these workers in advance and thank them on behalf of all the visitors who are going to see a "new" Delhi and enjoy the fruits of their labour!
This in "Incredible India" where the impossible is made possible!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

It's thumbs up for Delhi 2010 Commonweath Games

It was all smiles around for the Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games Organising Committee at the end of the four days 7th Coordination Commission (CoCom) meeting in New Delhi this evening.
The CoCom, chairman, CGF Honorary Treasurer, Austin Sealy from Barbados, told a packed press conference yesterday evening, tha the congratulates the Organising Committee Chairman, Suresh Kalmadi and his team on their rapid progress since December (their last visit) and urges an increased acceleration in all areas which pose a substantial time or delivery challenges for the Games.
In a statement released, it was stated that in December 2009, 70 critical issues were identified by CoCom and as of today this has been reduced to 38.
Among the important achievements listed include:
#progress in relation  to venue planning
#finalisation of workforce for training arrangements and commencement of delivery
#securing of Games accommodation requirements
#implementation of major Games technology systems
#implementation of a successful Chefs de Mission Seminar
#resolution of all outstanding Travel Grant issues
#the completion of 8 Test Events
#Securing of US$40 in sponsorship to date with a further US$34 million under final negotiations and a healthy residual pipeline
#progress in relation to the ticketing distribution systems
#attraction of additional experienced Games operations staff to support local talent with the OC
#the ongoing delivery of major services infrastructure by Delhi Government including for transport, water, power and other essential Games services
#the attraction of 24,000 volunteers to date
However, key challenges were also listed out by the CoCom which included
# while there remains much to be done to ensure readiness and a cohesive Games delivery from the opening of the Games Village on September 16th, the main concern of the CGF, is the delay in the delivery of the major sports venues by venue owners and in particular the Jawaharlal Nehru National Stadium (Athletics and Ceremonies) and the Talkatora Swimming Complex as well as the Games Village. These delays have a knock on effect and hamper the OC's planning and implementation for final overlay, staff training, rehearsal and simulation. It is imperative that everything be done to accelerate works that the agencies responsible for venue delivery cooperate fully with the OC to ensure the final planning for handover and operations
#integration of all agencies within a cohesive operational and decision making system which has clear lines of communication, decision making authority and responsibilities at Games time is always critical and this remains a challenge by there is a time to address this with the cooperation and commitment of all parties.
#Games Security - the CGF continues to work closely with the OC, Delhi Police and the Governments of India and Delhi to monitor all Games security arrangements and has assigned specialist consultants to work on its behalf as it is standard practice for all Games. All parties, including the CGF, are committed to the conduct of safe and friendly Games which will be enjoyed by all. 

When the media questioned Sealy on how he can say he is happy with the meeting and was confident that everything will be in place for the Games, when there are still issues to be addressed, he simply replied:"As compared to our meeting five months ago and our visit, we are very happy with the meetings and the progress.
"Infact, there has been tremendous effort and progress and if they keep up the pace if not accelerate, we are satisfied that everything will be in place.
"We have been assured of that by the OC and the government itself. We have also spoken to consultants here, who have expressed their total satisfaction with the progress in the last five months and are very optimistic that all will be well.
"Of course there are areas to be addressed and we have pointed it out.
"Bedsides, although this is the final CoCom team will be coming here, we will still be monitoring the progress with us coming here as individuals to keep tab.
"I personally will be coming here for the athletics test event in July at the JLN Stadium."
Sealy also  that he is very satisfied with the security arrangements and assured that athletes, officials and all visitors will not have to worry about the Games being safe.
"But we will continue to work hard at security and always be monitoring because we cannot afford be satisfied with security. We will always have to be vigilant and continue to work at it.
"I am certainly returning home satisfied with the effort and preparation of the OC. However, they cannot afford to slow down but accelerate the pace at all levels.
"I am confident that the Delhi Games will be as good if not better than the previous Games."
The OC's commitment is to make the Games the greatest ever!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

A new twist in Indian sports

Is there a code of conduct for ministers who hold posts in sports associations? That's what the Bombay High Court has asked the union government to explain.
The court has also asked that Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar be made a respondent, along with suspended IPL Chairman Lalit Modi and current IPL Chief Chiryau Amin, to a case filed by a member of the Shiv Sena.  
The case being heard is a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) which challenges the Maharashtra government's decision to waive any Entertainment Tax for the Indian Premier League (IPL) tournament which just finished. The exemption has cost the government several crores, and many have alleged that the decision was heavily influenced by Pawar, whose Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) forms the Maharashtra government along with its ally and senior partner, the Congress.
The Maharashtra government's decision not to levy 25 per cent entertainment tax on IPL matches cost the state Rs 12 crores.Pawar is also a major practitioner of power in the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) whose sub-committee, the IPL governing council, organizes the cricket tournament, now worth four billion dollars.The court has asked for Pawar to be added as a respondent so that he can answer the allegations against him.
The Bombay High Court will next hear the case on June 22.

There is no let up by Indian Sports Ministry

Toughening its stance on the tenure limitation of the sports bosses in the country, the Government on today proposed to send a senior official to the International Olympic Council (IOC) headquarters in Switzerland to sort out the matter.
A day after the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) forwarded letters of support from IOC and the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) that warned against any interference in tenure limitation of the administrators, the government said it would send a detailed response and offered to send an official to IOC headquarters in Lausanne to discuss the matter.
"Government is immediately sending to the highest authorities in IOC, a detailed response on the matter," said an official statement issued today.
"Government is also proposing to IOC that in order to have a thorough and conclusive discussion on the subject, Government would be deputing a senior official, to the IOC headquarters, at a mutually convenient date to sort out the matter across the table," it added.
Sports administrators are up in arms against the new regulation which says National Sports Federation (NSF) presidents cannot continue for more than 12 years, with or without break, while secretaries and treasurers can serve eight years at a stretch but would have to take a four-year break before seeking a reelection.
Determined to thwart the move, Indian Olympic Association and NSF bosses said they were governed by Olympic Charter and IOA secretary general Randhir Singh, also an IOC member, on Tuesday circulated letters of support from IOC and OCA which warned India of dire consequences in case of governmental interference. 
The Sports Ministry lashed out at Randhir Singh for his "conflict of interests".
"It has to be regrettably emphasised that Randhir Singh, who is an independent member from India on the International Olympic Committee (IOC), has clearly a conflict of interest on the tenure issue, in view of his 23-year-long continuous tenure as Secretary General, Indian Olympic Association(IOA)," the statement said.

"Further, it is noted with regret, that the IOC member did not consult Government before approaching IOC. The IOC too did not seek any inputs from Government before its NOC Relations Director sent the letter to Randhir Singh, who, in turn, has sent it to Government in his dual capacity," it added.
The government maintained the regulation came after the Delhi High Court had criticised the Sports Ministry for its inaction in implementing the guideline introduced back in 1975.
"The Court categorically stated that the tenure regulations were valid, binding and enforceable and could not be blocked by executive instructions. The Court also ruled that these regulations were not in violation of the Olympic Charter," the statement said.
The government said there was a consensus in the parliament on the regulation and pointed out that it would apply from the next elections of the NSFs, including IOA, most of which are scheduled after 2011. Trust of India

Kalmadi meets Indian Premier over tenure regulations

Indian Olympic Association officials along with a delegation of National Sports Federations met the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh today over the issue of new tenure regulations for sports administrators.
Talking to reporters after the meeting, Kalmadi said, "We met Prime Minister over the issue of the IOA autonomy."
"We have assured the Prime Minister that the Commonwealth Games will be a huge success. We conveyed that Sports Minister M S Gill should not have come out with all these ideas now. He should have come out after the Games. The Prime Minister has said that he will look into the matter," Kalmadi added.
The officials are also unconvinced as to why this stir had to come just months ahead of the Commonwealth Games.
They have termed the government move as interference in their affairs and even warned that the attempts to erode their autonomy may invite international ban on India.
The new regulations restrict National Sports Federations presidents from occupying the posts for over 12 years, with or without break.
When it comes to secretaries and treasurers, the regulations allow them to serve eight years at a stretch and to seek a re-election only after a four-year gap.
Apart from Kalmadi, the regulation seeks to end the over a decade-old reign of VK Malhotra (archery), Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa (cycling), VK Verma (badminton), Captain Satish K Sharma (aero club), B S Adityan (volleyball) and Jagdish Tytler (judo). -

Watch the interview by NDTV here

Indian soccer needs Bob Houghton

While in Malaysia, soccer is surrounded by in-fighting between coaches at junior national level, still on Cloud Nine over a Sea Games gold and going in circles about moving forward to the next level, in India they are facing a problem of being crippled of their hopes of being the next Asian country to move into the big League in international soccer.
The problem India is facing currently is the news of the sudden resignation of English coach Bob Houghton who been their national coach since June 2006.
Houghton who before coming to India had successful stints in China and Uzbekistan, has without doubt elevated India soccer to new heights which has seen them win the Nehru Cup in 2007 and defend it last year, win the AFC Challenge Cup in 2008 and qualifying for next year's Asian Cup for the first time in 24 years.
All Indian Football Federation (AIFF), president, Praful Patel, is now making all efforts to have Houghton retract his resignation and continue his good work with Indian soccer.
The 62-year-old coach who is currently in Cape Town, had sent his resignation in the wake of news that AIFF secretary general Alberto Colaco in his recent visit to Malaysia had met a soccer agent to look out for a replacement.
Houghton then had asked for a contract extension and hike in salary from his current contract.
Indian team captain, Baichung Bhutia, who was  on trials with Kuala Lumpur and later played in the Malaysian League for a short spell for Perak, had come out strongly on behalf of his team, with their support for Houghton.

Totally a different scenario from Malaysian soccer where players would go on Facebook and talk about the ills of their team, rather than take positive measures to improve Malaysian soccer.
The NDTV and Times of India report here gives a clear picture of the "Bob Houghton" saga and how AIFF are trying their level best to resolve the issue.
Maybe, Malaysia may want to zero in on Houghton, if he really decides to end his contract with India.
However, whether the FA of Malaysia have the means to hire a high-profile coach like Houghton and whether they can handle what he wants to put in place, will be a question mark.
After all, even India could not cope with his demands to bring Indian soccer to the next level.
Even the likes of Trevor Hartley, Dr Josef Venglos, Claude Le Roy, Allan Harris to name a few all had problems working with Malaysian soccer.
With no disrespect to current and local coach K. Rajagopal, who has done a good job so far, but I wonder if he will be given the free reign and the support to take Malaysian soccer to the next level.
Nothing will be sweeter for Malaysian soccer to reach great heights with a local coach, but the FA of Malaysia need to come out with new ideas to develop the national team with the support of the State FAs. 
Some are already talking about the World Cup when we have not qualified for the Asian Cup. That is Malaysian soccer!

Bobby Houghton
Personal information
Full name Robert Douglas Houghton
Date of birth 13 October 1947 (1947-10-13) (age 62)
Place of birth    England
Club information
Current club India (manager)
Senior career
Years Club
Brighton & Hove Albion
Hastings United
Maidstone United

Teams managed
Hastings United
Maidstone United
Malmö FF
Ethnikos Piraeus
Bristol City
Toronto Blizzard
Örgryte IS
Malmö FF
FC Zürich
Colorado Rapids

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

IOA and National Sports Associations up in arms against Sports Ministry

This will definitely be one situation in Indian sports, which Malaysian sports will be able to relate easily.
After Sunday's announcement by the Indian Sports Minister, M. S. Gill, had announced to make effective a rule to restrict the tenure of office bearers in National Sports Associations, as expected, it was heatedly challenged.
Many felt that the timing of the announcement in the wake of New Delhi hosting the Commonwealth Games, was certainly not right.
Yesterday, Suresh Kalmadi, the chairman of the Delhi Commonwealth Games Organising Committee and also president of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA), and many national association presidents had expressed their surprise, timing and protest at the decision by the Sports Ministry.(read here)
Today, IOA secretary-general, Randhir Singh in a press conference, armed with letter of support from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), took the Sports Ministry to task citing that the decision was a violation of the Olympic Charter.
The Sports Minister also had his say too. (read here)
With the Commonwealth Games Federation's Coordination Committee headed by Austin Sealey in the city for four days since Sunday with his seven member team including CGF CEO Mike Cooper, for their seventh and hopefully the final meeting with the Delhi Organising Committee, the general feeling is that this internal matter should not sidelined the importance and priority of meeting.
Whatever it is, the 'sports officials tenure' issue certainly has not seen the last of it.
It is just hoped that the issue will not derail or undermine the Delhi Commonwealth Games which is just 151 days away!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Indian Sports Ministry limits tenure for sports officials

On the backdrop of India hosting the Commonwealth Games in October, the sports story which was the talk of the country today was the Sports Ministry's announcement that National Sports Associations' presidents who have been in office for more than a decade, will have to step down at the end of their term.
The news had mixed reaction and is expected to be debated heatedly in the coming days which could even see the issue going to court citing that it is against the Olympic Charter to limit tenures of sports officials.
In Malaysia this has been a hot topic too and not too long ago, there was even a ruling that Cabinet Ministers cannot hold posts in sports associations.
Below is the story which appeared in the India Today website: 

 In a bid to crack down on National Sports Federation heads who have been occupying the posts for too long, the Sports Ministry on Sunday said NSF chiefs in office for more than a decade will have to step down after their current term expires.
The Ministry has modified a 1975 regulation that means Indian Olympic Association chief Suresh Kalmadi and several NSF chiefs including V K Malhotra (archery), Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa (cycling), VK Verma (badminton), captain Satish K Sharma (aero club) and BS Adityan (volleyball) cannot seek a re-election after their present term expires.
The move is also being interpreted as a fallout of Sports Minister M S Gill's ongoing feud with Kalmadi, who has been at the helm since 1996.
The Ministry said it has decided to restore the modified tenure clause, which was kept in abeyance by former Sports Minister Uma Bharti in 2001, to encourage "professional management, good governance, transparency, accountability, democratic elections, etc. in NSFs, including IOA."
The original 1975 regulation introduced by the Indira Gandhi government had capped the tenure of the President, the Secretary and the Treasurer at not more than two consecutive terms of four years each.
The modified clause caps the tenure of the president of an NSF, including IOA, to 12 years "with or without break".
For the Secretary and the Treasurer, it shall not be more than two successive tenures of four years each.
"The Secretary and the Treasurer shall be eligible for standing for re-election to the post after a minimum interval of four years," the Ministry said.
"Further, there will be a retirement age of 70 years for all the members and office bearers," it added.
Most of the NSFs have politicians at the top, while bureaucrats and businessmen too have been found clinging onto the top posts for long.
BJP leader VK Malhotra is heading the Archery Association of India for more than three decades.
Akali Dal leader Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa's reign as the Cycling Federation of India head is into its 14th year while VK Verma, a bureaucrat, is ruling Badminton Association of India for 12 years.
Congress leader Captain Satish K Sharma heads the Aero Club for 24 years, while B S Adityan, a businessman, has been at the helm of the Volleyball Federation of India for 12 years.
Others who have been ruling NSFs for nearly a decade include Digvijay Singh (shooting), Ajay Singh Chautala (table tennis), Yashwant Sinha (tennis), Abhay Singh Chautala (boxing), Ashoke Ghosh (kho kho), KP Singh Deo (rowing) and KN Kapur (swimming).
The ministry said all previous efforts to limit the tenure met stiff resistance from NSFs, who cited the autonomy provided to them in the Olympic Charter.
The Ministry, on its part, cited a 2009 Delhi High Court observation that the tenure clause is not a violation of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) charter.
The Sports Ministry said it has examined and found that major international sports bodies, including that of hockey, badminton and swimming, have their own tenure limit.
"...International Olympic Committee (IOC) itself, which is mother body of all sporting federations, enforces limits on the tenure of its executive members, Vice Presidents and the President, besides enforcing a retirement age of seventy years on all its members elected after December, 1999," the Ministry pointed out.
"Hence, it is amply clear that the practice of imposing the limits on the tenure of the office bearers of sporting bodies is widely prevalent and internationally accepted and is also one of the critical ingredients of good governance, which prevents development of vested interests in the management of sporting bodies," it added.
Reckoning that the modified clause brings NSF tenure regulation in line with that of IOC, the Ministry said, "The above mentioned tenure limit shall come into operation with immediate effect for all elections conducted henceforth.
"However, in the case of existing office bearers who are attracting the above restrictions, but were duly elected to their posts, and are currently serving their tenure, the tenure limit will be enforceable only after the expiry of the current tenure."
The current NSF and IOA management was challenged in a Public Interest Litigation filed before the Delhi High Court, which has expressed deep concern at the long indecisiveness of the Government on this critical issue, the Ministry said.
The Court has directed the Government to clarify its stand and produce relevant records on the next date of hearing on May 5, the Ministry added.