Is that going to happen, or is it just wishful thinking?
For starters, several developments in the sports scene this month, does not paint a great picture to look forward to in the New Year.
Several issues in sports have been bothering and I just want to get it of my chest.
Everything is pointing to the circus has arrived in town early for 2012.
Let me take each issue separately.
MILLIONAIRE FOOTBALLERS (New Sunday Times front-paged story on Dec 11):
Firstly, it is a non-story!
The idea to have Asean League has been in the air for sometime now. It was initiated by the Asean Football Association, whose headquarters is in Kelana Jaya.
It was none other than, Datuk Paul Mony Samuel, general-secretary cum treasurer, the former FA of Malaysia secretary-general, a highly respected figure in the world of soccer, who has been trying to get the league off ground.
However, financial implications, time factor, availability of players from the respective countries and other issues, have prevented the league from getting off ground.
And suddenly the Sports Minister of Malaysia, Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek, wants to introduce this Asean "Champions League" and was getting consensus from the Asean Sports Ministers Meeting in Yogyakarta recently.
Firstly, the Sports Minister was out of line to even make an announcement of this nature. He had no locus standi, because all football matters in the country has to go through the national body.
He could have asked FA of Malaysia to make the announcement, sought the advice of AFF or even the Asian Football Confederation, whose home is also in Malaysia - Bukit Jalil.
Just as a matter of understanding, any new tournaments normally takes about four years to be included as the AFC and FIFA calendars are announced for four years cycle and has to be approved by them.
Did anyone remind the good Sports Minister that any form of Government intervention can see the national soccer Federation banned?
And Millionaire Footballer? What are we talking about. Our Malaysian players cannot even hold a candle to the top footballing nations in Asia and they want to earn million ringgit?
Seriously now....let us learn to walk before we start to even jog, let alone run!
Winning the Sea Games twice and the Suzuki Cup suddenly makes Malaysian footballers millionaire material? Who are we kidding.
This piece of news is certainly early arrival of the circus for 2012.
The foreign players have arrived?
We had illegal immigrants coming for trials, players with falsified records, players who could not get International Transfer Certificates (ITC) and the list goes on.
Then there were cases where teams failed to meet the deadline for registration of foreign players.
Then there is a case of player signed on, but is injured.
We have old faces coming back to play in the League they are so familiar with, while the news ones names do not ring a bell among names in the world of soccer.
Have we once again settled for half-baked players or con-players?
Oh sorry, the FA of Malaysia's vetting committee have gone through the list and given officially approval.
The state and club teams had sent in 35 applications, but the competitions committee only approved 26 based on guidelines set by FIFA. Two applications were withdrawn, while seven were rejected because they failed to meet the requirements.
So what is new from the previous years when we had foreign players. The same old problem exists despite FA of Malaysia taking stringent measures, having seminars to educate the State FAs and clubs - after all these years of playing in the professional league!
Can we expect to see more problems surfacing when the league begins?
Oops! The problem has already began. Foreign players in T-Team in Terengganu snubbed an official dinner organised for them.
I have always been against foreign players, unless they are really quality and renowned players. With the coming of the foreign players how many local strikers and midfielders are going to be denied a place in the teams.
Will the national team be affected by this decision to include the foreign players?
Who cares? As long as the Stadiums are filled and the game is entertaining - both of which are subjective.
So here we go again...the circus is in town early for 2012!
One would imagine that since soccer in the country went Semi-Pro in 1989 and Pro in 1994 - 22 years and have become an adult - everything about the game is settled, professionally and ready to move on to the next level.
No, we still have Stadiums failing inspections for poor lighting, poor grounds and teams having to play away from home.
We are also still talking about changing the format of the competition!
So the circus continues into 2012!
NATIONAL ASSOCIATIONS AND NSC
The bickering, back-biting and animosity in national associations and between national associations and NSC, looks like to continue.
Many officials are already beinging to think or feel that they are bigger than the sports.
When the administration and management is not right, how do we expect to get things right for the athletes.
Some organisations are getting bigger and bigger for their shoes and simply dictate terms.
It is about time national associations start standing on their own feet and not just rely on handouts and become servants.
Each national association exist because they are the experts in the sports and have a duty to develop and see their sports reach the highest level at the international level.
If they cannot work towards that, then they might as well resign leave the associations. But fat chance because many are there for their own benefits.
So how is 2012 going to see anything new? The bigger circus will probably be in town in 2012!
The Games is fast being dubbed as the biennial "Circus" because of the many sports which are included to see the host win medals.
The debate on the matter has been going on for sometime now, to confine the Games sports to Olympics sports only and also to make the Games a Under-23 Games. But it has been talk only.
Now, the Chairman of the Philippines Sports Commission has made the call again.
And the Olympic Council of Malaysia has proposed a Sea Games Conference in Kuala Lumpur on March 28 and 29th.
Wonder what is going to come out of it?
Is it going to be another merry-go-round at the funfair or circus?
Datuk Sieh Kok Chi's views on the Sea Games (Honorary Secretary Olympic Council of Malaysia)
After every SEA Games, there will be the usual call for improving the selection and the reduction of sports and events of future SEA Games. All the calls are from sports officials of countries which have hosted past SEA Games and have also added sports and events as they pleased. The latest call was from the Chairman of the Philippines Sports Commission, who said that all sports and events of future SEA Games should be sports that are in the Olympic Games or the Asian Games.
Being appointed the Chairman of the Sports Commission, quite recently, he was not aware that when the Philippines hosted the 23rd SEA Games in 2005, there were 40 sports in the programme and sports which were not in the Asian Games programme at that time were Arnis and Dance Sport (although Dance Sport was in the 1st Asian Indoor Games 2005 held in Bangkok, before the 23rd SEA Games). In the Indonesian 26th SEA Games, out of the 43 sports, only 3 sports, namely Contract Bridge, Shorinji Kempo, and Vovinam were not in the Asian Games. All the other 40 sports were in the Asian Games, the Asian Beach Games and the Asian Indoor Games.
The SEAP/SEA Games has been held since 1959, which means that the Games has been successfully organized for 52 years, without any problem. The reasons for this are the two special features of the SEA Games, which are:
• the hosting of the Games is by rotation and hence there is no bidding, campaigning and ‘politics’. Every National Olympic Committee has a chance to host the Games in accordance with its capacity and resources. Thus the number of sports have varied from 18 (the maximum until 1985), to 22 sports at the Brunei Darussalam 20th SEA Games in 1999 to 25 sports at the Vientiane 25th SEA Games in 2009 to 43 sports at the recent Indonesian 26th SEA Games.
• there is no elected Office Bearers of the SEA Games Federation, the Office Bearers of the Federation are the Office Bearers of the Host National Olympic Committee, who hold office by rotation for two years. Thus the Host NOC has the right and the responsibility to organise the SEA Games in accordance with the Constitution, without any outside interference and without any politics.
Another fact which is also important is that the SEA Games Federation is a “Games Federation” and not a “Sport Federation”. Since its sole property is the SEA Games, its only responsibility is to ensure that the SEA Games is successfully organized every two years. Some SEA Games officials have the mistaken idea that the SEA Games Federation should also develop sports. This is incorrect because it is the respective International Federations and the National Sports Associations who are responsible for developing their sports. If the SEA Games Federation were to carry out sports development, then it is encroaching into the right and responsibility of the IFs and NSAs.
Thus the selection of sports in the SEA Games programme should be based on how much the inclusion of a sport can enhance the image and value of the SEA Games and not for the purpose of providing an opportunity for a sport to be developed by its inclusion in the SEA Games. Unfortunately most of the officials in the NOCs and the SEA Games Federation are also principle office bearers of National Sports Associations in their respective countries and some are also office bearers of their IFs. Hence they often use their positions to lobby and influence the host NOC and also have “trade-offs” with their fellow office bearers from other NOCs, who are in the same positions, to include their sports, irrespective of whether their sports deserves to be included into the SEA Games programme or not. Until such conflict of interests situations are eliminated, the issues on the selection of sports and events in the SEA Games will remain unsolved.
On the other hand, what is wrong having a bigger sports programme? If the Host government sports officials and the NOC are happy to include more sports and events, everyone should be thankful and happy and not be unhappy. After all, more sports will ensure more participants and more winners, irrespective of from which country. More participants and more medal winners will encourage and motivate more young people to participate in sports and strive to represent their countries in the SEA Games and later the Asian Games and even the Olympic Games. If the SEA Games become too restrictive, then its popularity and attractiveness will slowly be eroded. As such it is best to leave the decision on the number of sports to the Host NOC, especially when every NOC will have the chance to decide for themselves when their turn comes.
Level-field: So what do you make out of this....the circus continues?