Saturday, May 28, 2011

The beautiful game stinks from top to bottom!

It is foul from the top to to the minnows!
Is there any future for what was known as the beautiful game.
From Fifa to professional K-League in Korea to President Cup youth players in Malaysia, they have been implicated in bribery scandals.
Can one blame if there is bribery among soccer players, when the very people who are governors of the game, play the dirty game of bribery to stay in power, bidding and sponsorship process.
The beautiful game has indeed been dragged through mud that it stinks to high heaven.
Author of FOUL, British investigative and award-winning reporter,Andrew Jennings, who published his book in 2006, must be having the last laugh.
FOUL - The secret World of FIFA - Bribes, Vote Rigging and Ticket Scandals - was described by FIFA president as "Fiction".
Where the game is heading is anybody's guess, but the fact remains that it is still the world's No 1 game.
Foul or no foul, billions will still buy a ticket to support their favourite team or national team or stay glued to their televisions at unearthly hours to support their favourite team as the guardians and the players of the game make a mickey of the game!
As the FIFA elections on the cards in a few days, the bribery scandal is getting bigger than the game as FIFA placed its own president under investigation.
With both Blatter and presidential candidate Mohamed Hamman - the Asian Football Confederation president - under investigation, it is unclear whether Wednesday's election will go ahead.
 News has been splashed all over with the bribery scandal and it certainly does not augur well for the beautiful game.
Check out some of the stories the last few days and decide for yourself where the game is heading!

Blatter faces ethics probe with FIFA rival

Mohamed to fight allegations

Henry Winter: Football Association should have challenged Sepp Blatter and Mohamed Bin Hammam

S. Korea probes match-fixing

PBNS lodges police report on match fixing

Sunday, May 22, 2011

No money for sports development, but abundance for compensation!

The National Sports Council (NSC) and the Ministry of Youth and Sports have come in the open to say funds have been cut and thus,  national sports associations' subsidies for development and programmes have also been cut this year.
But the Sports Ministry has RM500,000 to pay as fine, as the Stadium Board, which manages the National Stadium and the contractor have agreed to postpone the laying of a new track, originally scheduled to ongoing now and ready in August.
But now the National Stadium Board will open its doors for Malaysia's World Cup and qualifying matches in June and July and also for the Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool also scheduled for July.
FA of Malaysia secretary-general, Datuk Azzuddin Ahmad has come to say that the fine is an internal matter between the the Stadium Board and the contractor and that the Sports Minister, Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek, will make an official announcement on the matter soon. (see today's NST report below).
Azzudin has also said that FAM will not absorb the cost.
For the life of me, I cannot understand how this mess came about.
It is reliably learnt that any form of compensation to the contractor for postponing in laying the tracks only amounts to RM60,000. But the Stadium Board as come up with a figure of RM500,000.
Is the Stadium Board trying to make some fast bucks?
But if the Sports Ministry is going to absorb the fine, it will only be money exchanging from the right hand to the left hand and is an internal transfer.
But my question is how did this mess come about? Was there no communication between FA of Malaysia and the Stadium Board on upcoming matches that that FA of Malaysia wanted to use the National Stadium.
As in the case of the matches involving EPL teams which is brought by a private event company, was there any booking made and by whom - FA of Malaysia or the event company?
Was there any deposit paid for the booking for the National Stadium or is a last minute change of venue from the Shah Alam Stadium to National Stadium. If that is the case, should it not be the event organisers to pay whatever is required to secure the National Stadium. Or has a deal been made with the FA of Malaysia to book the venue.
This is just as complicated as the issue on the "Tiger stripe issue" where Telecom Malaysia, the National Sports Council, Olympic Council of Malaysia and attire manufacturer and official supplier Mesuma are involved in patent right issue.
Why has Malaysian sports to be so complicated and get into controversies everytime.
I though we had competent officials who know all the rights and wrongs in sports dealings.
The bottom-line for all these issues is MONEY and the private parties involved who either are not familiar with what they are handling or is pure incompetency on their part. Let us not talk of the sports officials who are involved in the deals, for it might open another can of worms.
Indeed sad for Malaysian sports when after almost 54 years of independence, we are still making schoolboy mistakes despite sports having gone professional in many areas in Malaysia.
Can someone shed some light as to why all these mess?
I suppose that is asking too much, as each one would want to cover their mess and tracks!
Good luck to Malaysian sports and welcome to Malaysia the controversial and bo-bo hub for sports dealings!

Football: National Stadium to re-open earlier
Ajitpal Singh
THE National Stadium in Bukit Jalil will open its doors for Malaysia's World Cup and Olympic qualifying matches next month and in July. The stadium, which is now closed for the laying of a new track, was originally scheduled to open only in August.
However, the Stadium Board, which manages the National Stadium, and the contractor have agreed to postpone it to accommodate the matches.
This means the Stadium Board will pay a fine of RM500,000 to the contractor.
Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool are also scheduled to attend an 11-day EPL Festival in Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia will play former English Premiership champions Arsenal on July 10, followed by former Champions League winners Liverpool, six days later and Chelsea on July 21.
All these matches will now be held at the National Stadium. It is learnt that the English clubs were earlier unhappy about playing at the proposed venue at the Shah Alam Stadium, which subsequently forced the concerned parties to move these matches to the National Stadium.According to FA of Malaysia secretary-general Datuk Azzuddin Ahmad, the issue in regard to the fine is an internal matter between the Stadium Board and the contractor."Sports Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek will make an official announcement soon. FAM will not absorb the cost," said Azzuddin yesterday.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Asia's Sports Leaders

Interview with Tan Sri Tunku Imran in the current 11th edition of the Olympic Council of Asia's ( OCA) quarterly newsletter, Sporting Asia.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Here we go again!

Datuk Bandar Datuk Seri Ahmad Fuad Ismail announced on Friday that a new sports complex will be built to a tune of RM100 million in Ayer Panas, Setapak.
I have no problems with sporting facilities built for the public close to their homes, especially with playing field diminishing fast in the name of development.
My question is what is City Hall doing about all the many exiting complexes and playing fields which are in deplorable condition.
And the Mayor's answer on public complaints of dilapidated sports complexes in the city, was shocking to say the least.
Ahmad Fuad said the grouses were mainly on maintenance of the facilities.
So what is City Hall doing about it. Is City Hall's job just to built the complexes.
Another question for the Mayor - has there been any allocation been budgeted for maintenance of the complex to be built in Setapak? Or is it going to get into deplorable conditions after few years after it is officially opened because of wear and tear?
In nearly all the Stadiums and complexes built around the nation, no budget is included for maintenance.
Yes these Stadiums and complexes are suppose to generate enough income for maintenance, but how many of them are actually doing that. Just look around at the many Stadiums, complexes and fields' condition, and therein lies the answer - either poor management or not generating enough funds for proper maintenance.
RM100 million is a lot of money to be spent on a sports complex!
Would it not have been better to build a smaller stadium, but not compromising on the facilities and spend the money saved on repairing the many complexes which are fast being a sore-sight and a hazard to the users.

Below is the New Straits Times story on 7th May (Saturday)
RM100 million City Hall sports complex in Setapak
Datuk Bandar Datuk Seri Ahmad Fuad Ismail hopes the new sports complex in Ayer Panas, Setapak would be used to host national events such as the Malaysia Games in the future.

KUALA LUMPUR: The ground-breaking for a sports complex in Ayer Panas, Setapak is expected to be carried out soon. Datuk Bandar Datuk Seri Ahmad Fuad Ismail said the complex, which costs about RM100 million, will be built on an 8ha land belonging to City Hall.It will have a multi-purpose hall, running track, basic amenities and a hostel.
"Apart from providing recreational facilities to the public, we hope that the complex can be used as a venue for sports events in the future, including national events like the Malaysia Games (Sukma)," he said.
"It may need two to three years to complete and will be accessible and affordable to the public."It is learnt that the complex, to be named 1Malaysia Sports Complex, would be built on a vacant land near the Sekolah Menengah Perempuan Ayer Panas in Jalan Ayer Kuning 2.
On public complaints of dilapidated sports complexes in the city, Ahmad Fuad said the grouses were mainly on maintenance of the facilities.

Read more: RM100 million City Hall sports complex in Setapak

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Get the act right at the grassroots!

We are busy trying to sell the Malaysian T-shirts and jackets in London, spending millions of ringgit for events, programmes, training, upgrading Stadiums for Sukma, travelling  abroad for meetings and the list goes on.
However, the basic sports needs is sadly neglected. Schools sports despite assurance that it is being looked into and given emphasis, is a far cry from what it was in the yesteryears.
Basic amenities for sports like a playing field or the mini sports complexes are in deplorable conditions.

Not too long ago, each parliamentary consistence was supposed to be equipped with a mini multipurpose sports complex. Wonder if everyone have their mini sports complex in place or whether it is in usable condition. 
The neighborhood fields are still in deplorable conditions and in fact a hazard to be used. 
Today, in the Streets section of the New Straits Times, there is an article about sports complexes in the Klang Valley in deplorable conditions.
It is sad that such conditions exist when politicians are talking about one sport for one child, sports for all, sports culture and community sports.
Read the NST Streets report today: Dilapidated sports complexes are putting off Klang Valley folk
The disintegrating synthetic running track at the Kampung Pandan Stadium is more than 20 years old. - NST Picture
 PSHA chief coach Bob Rajendran (right) briefing on the deplorable condition of the Bertam Hockey Stadium’s synthetic turf in Kepala Batas to 1MAS hockey development manager Saiful Azli (left) while other coaches look on. — Picture by K. Kandiah

Let us get our act right at the grassroots before thinking a gold medal at the Olympics! Maybe with things right at the base, we may line ourselves for not one gold at the Olympics, but a few!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Dubious honour for the Malaysian Soccer League

Malaysian Soccer League must surely top the list in the world to have made the most number of changes to their format and composition of the League over the years.
Organised soccer competition in this country can see history trace as far back as the 1920s. Thirty years before that, soccer was already played in all parts of Malaya and Borneo - mostly localised with frequent inter-state matches which were greatly social events rather than full-blooded matches.
But the visit of H.M.S. Malaya, the battleship presented by the then Federated Malay States to the British Navy during the First World war, to Malaya in 1921 opened  a new era for soccer in the country.
Captain Buller, his officers and men, in gratitude for the hospitality shown them by their Malayan hosts, presented a trophy - the H.M.S Malaya Cup - and the rest is history. It was this Cup which undoubtedly inspired the formation of the Football Association of Malaya.
The only break the Malaya Cup experienced and later the Malaysia Cup  from 1967, was from 1942-1947 during the war years.
The pride of Malaysian soccer
In 1989 from amateur soccer, Malaysia soccer moved into another new era - Semi-Pro and turned fully professional in 1994.
One would have thought with such rich history, Malaysian soccer would have by now been a permanent fixture which is recognised by the world.
Surprise, surprise. Malaysian soccer is still undergoing changes.
According to FAM deputy president, Tan Sri Anuar Musa who is the chairman of the Malaysian Soccer League (MSL), all this while - 16 years of professional soccer to be exact - the M-League has been professional in the name only. This I have been saying from day one the league went Semi-Pro league. It is only now that it has dawned upon the powers of soccer, that Malaysian soccer is not professional.
There is now recommendations made to the FAM Exco in what is said to be an effort to raise the standard of M-League and management of teams. Among them is for teams to sever links between teams and their respective state FAs, return of foreign players (shut out since 2009) and the reduction of the number of teams in the Super League.
Seriously, we have been there and done that. What is new in these suggestions?
Sever links between teams and respective state FAs? Just look at the many teams managed independently by corporate organisations and clubs. How many have folded up after a few seasons.
Malaysian soccer is State FA based...full stop.If State FAs cannot manage their teams with all the support from the FA of Malaysia, imagine how teams are going to survive independently.After all, it is going to be the same people going to helm the teams independently.
If the soccer powers persist to continue to sever the ties with State FA, it will change the face of Malaysian soccer and it will take probably another two decades to just get it right, if they actually succeed.
Reducing the number of teams? So much for professionalism. Announcing the reduction midway in the season! In any case, what guarantee is that reducing the number of teams means seeing quality? Yes it will see a rush of the better players trying to find a place in teams in the Super League, but it is the same faces plying their trade and will that see quality of the League improve?
Oh yes! Foreign players. I had written so much about it and it just falls on deaf ears.
My concern is that local players will be scarified for foreign players and our national team is going to suffer without doubt.
Maybe, we can allow a foreign player from the Asian region to add some some excitement to the League, and that should suffice for foreign influx.
If foreign players are allowed back, teams are going to make a mad-rush for goalkeepers, midfielders and strikers. If ten teams are playing in the Super League next year, it means 30 local players will warming the bench! And despite saying that quality foreign players will be sought, we have seen it happen time and again in the past, when we have had seen half baked foreign players and in some instances even worse than out local players playing for teams.
When one pays peanuts for foreign players, then they get "monkeys".
And do the teams have resources to pay big money for foreign players? Will the huge sums of money be better utilised to have solid development programmes and have competitive local leagues in their respective states which will surely have better yield.
The future of Malaysian soccer
Malaysian soccer has just won some fans after the Sea Games and Suzuki Cup victory (although success at the lowest level of the game), but do not kill it again with all these changes, which in all probability will see changed again in the next few years or maybe even the very next season.
Just look back at the changes we have made all these years and we are still fine tuning our League!
Little wonder that the younger generation look overseas for their League action!
Let us not lose this support from the fans

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Babolat International Tennis Academy

 Press Release
The Babolat Duta International Tennis Academy, Malaysia’s first tennis academy with a centralized facility and professional coaches, celebrated its Official Launch recently.
 Aiming to increase levels of participation in tennis, providing appropriate development pathways for young players, the academy was officiated by Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek, Malaysia’s Youth and Sports Minister. The launch was also supported by many important people in the Malaysian sports arena, such as Datuk Sieh Kok Chi (right) of Olympic Council of Malaysia,  Datuk Zolkeples Embong (second from right) of National Sports  Council, Tan Sri Datuk (Dr) Salehuddin Mohamed, the President of Kuala Lumpur Tennis Association and several others.
 Duta International Tennis Academy (formerly known as Duta Junior Tennis Academy) was established in 1999. It is the premier and sole tennis academy in Malaysia. It was founded by V. Selvam (right on the first pix) Malaysia’s tennis legend and best ever player of all time. It started with only one program and 20 students. Now it has several different programs and has about 100 trainees from kids to high performance players.
 In November 2010, Duta International Tennis Academy teamed up with RSH (Malaysia) to bring a new and progressive beginning to Malaysian Tennis. This collaboration is known as Babolat Duta International Tennis Academy, which is also the first Babolat Tennis Academy in the world.
Ahmad Shabery was very impressed with the academy and aims to use it as a platform to discover new tennis talents in Malaysia. He praised the implementation of the International Tennis Federation (ITF) recommended training method – the Play & Stay campaign, and commended on the collaboration and initiative by RSH (Malaysia) to help develop tennis within the nation. The Youth and Sports Minister announced that the Sports Ministry plan to erect a gym at the academy to help make it become a more comprehensive training centre, and he called upon more sponsors to help the Academy realize future areas of development in areas such as competitions.
The academy has contributed a lot to Malaysia’s tennis scene since its establishment. The academy has produced talents such as Khoo Er Yang, currently the highest ranked Malaysian player on the ITF Junior Circuit (ranked 373), in recognition of the support and sponsorship by Yayasan Sime Darby.
The Babolat Duta International Tennis Academy is spearheaded by Malaysia’s tennis legend, V. Selvam, one of Malaysia's best professional tennis players. He reached the highest world ranking of 390, and holds several other records, namely - the youngest No.1 tennis player at age 16 in the Malaysia’s Book of Records. Over the years, he has consistently played a key role in bringing victory to the Malaysian Davis Cup Team.
“I believe the union of the academy and a renowned international brand like Babolat will help us expand and reach out to more potential tennis players, bringing international expertise to Malaysian shores. We are very lucky to be associated with Babolat,” says V. Selvam about the partnership between the academy and Babolat.
Gautier Berthe, the Asia Pacific Manager for Babolat also talked about his excitement in being associated with the academy and sees much opportunity in it.
The Official Launch also proved to be a significant day for V. Selvam, with him saying “This was my 15 years dream so today the dream come true, and I thank god”.  He also expressed gratitude to the Sports Minister for officiating the academy.
 Babolat Duta International Tennis Academy offers different levels of quality tennis training on court and off court. They adopt the ITF Play & Stay campaign that focuses on “Serve, Rally and Score” whereby beginner players play the game from the first lesson. The campaign aims to retain players introduced to the sport by ensuring that their first experience is positive, enjoyable, yet educational.
 Jens Hiestermann, Director of Coaching of the Babolat Duta International Tennis Academy, says, “The ITF Play & Stay method promotes the use of slower balls and smaller court size that allows players more time and control to develop in efficient techniques and advanced tactics. Young children are able to learn the game faster, staying longer while having fun.”
 The Babolat International Tennis Academy offers four (4) different programs. They are the Kids, Junior, Elite and High Performance program. The Kids program is for children under 10 years old while the Junior program is for children aged 11-18 years. Beginners start off with the B-Ball and Kids ball - tennis balls used in the program that are 75% and 50% lighter than a standard tennis ball. As students progress and grow, they move up to playing with the Intermediate ball, a ball which is 25% lighter compared to the standard tennis ball. Eventually, they progress to using the standard tennis ball in court. The Elite program is for players who are more serious about tennis. The program uses the standard tennis ball in training while still using the slower balls when necessary, such as learning a new technique or in a warm-up.
The High Performance program is an intense tennis program for players who want to take up tennis professionally at national and international levels. It involves training 5.5 days a week with 2 sessions a day. This program is to help players to be the best that they can be, pushing individuals to reach the pinnacle of their game on and off the tennis court.
 “We are proud to be part of the academy to help cultivate Malaysia’s tennis talents. There is much potential in Malaysia. By bringing in experienced and professional coaches like Jens to the academy, we are able to contribute to the tennis scene, slowly placing Malaysia in the map of the World of Tennis,” says  Gupta, CEO of RSH (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd.
 RSH (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd is the exclusive distributor for Babolat products in Malaysia. Babolat is the oldest company that specializes in racquet sports and was founded in France in the year 1875.  Babolat’s products consist of a wide range of tennis, badminton, squash equipment and accessories. The Babolat tennis racquets have also been used by top players such as Rafael Nadal, Andy Roddick and Kim Clijsters.