Monday, July 29, 2013

Sucide Mission?

Look before you leap

Losses in 'A' international matches will lower Malaysia’s ranking
Monday, July 29, 2013 - 15:12
PLAYING “A” international matches is a suicidal mission that will see Malaysia’s current FIFA ranking slide.
Malaysia are currently ranked 159 out of 209 countries, 31st in Asia and fifth in Asean — behind Thailand (138), the Philippines (144), Vietnam (145) and Singapore (156). Malaysia’s best ranked position was 75 in August 1993 and its worst was 170 in April 2008.
And it is truly amazing that national team manager Datuk Seri Subahan Kamal believes playing “A” international matches will help put Malaysia among the top 100 by 2016. And this has been endorsed by FA of Malaysia general secretary Datuk Hamidin Amin who said the national team will play more international matches from 2014.


After some research, Mailsports believes this will only happen if Malaysia play countries that are ranked higher and win all the matches. Every loss will see Malaysia’s position drop.
If memory serves well, the FAM’s technical director Robert Alberts (now Sarawak coach) talked about a road map for Malaysian soccer when he came on board in 2005. He said Malaysia should play more international matches.
That we did, against teams like New Zealand, and lost. And by the time Alberts’ tenure ended in 2008, Malaysia’s ranking had dropped from 123 in 2005 to 156 in 2008.
Clearly, FAM are putting the cart before the horse. They need to take a hard look at the problem — the strength of the team.
The FAM cannot rectify Malaysian soccer woes by addressing the situation from the top, which has been attempted many times before and failed time and again.
The simple rule in is to lay strong foundation before putting up the pillars and the roof. Only then will the structure stand the test of time.
What Malaysia needs is a proper development plan under which players in schools and academies are given the right training before they move on to the clubs.
At present, most state FAs do not even organise their own leagues or if they did it, using carnival format.
Without a proper club system in place at state level, many school and academy players tend to disappear from the football scene.
Malaysian soccer needs a well planned, five-year development programme at the very least to address the current situation so that we have strong players coming through who have been exposed to quality training and matches.


The programme needs to be drawn up by the best brains in terms of technical personnel from within the country or overseas, and not any Ali, Muthu or Ah Chong.
The national youth and senior teams should be playing matches against Asean countries first and try to come out tops before moving on to Asian nations. And when Malaysia has established itself as a top Asian footballing nation, then maybe we can start playing the higher ranked countries.
Playing top clubs in Asia is an option to gain exposure and improve our standard as most of them are definitely stronger than our national team.
Take the national team’s 2-0 loss to the formidable Shimizu-Pluse from the J-League Division One. Critics may dismiss it as just a club team, but we have to accept the fact that many of the top clubs in Asia are much stronger than our national team.
In the final analysis, Malaysia should be playing more matches in Japan, South Korea, Australia, the Middle East and China if they want quality matches, and losing to these teams and clubs should be taken as a learning curve.
The idea is that we should learn to walk before we start running.


Friday, July 26, 2013

Why aren't the past showing way to the future?
Friday, July 26, 2013 - 15:43

Talk is cheap.
Turn all the football advice into action and perhaps Malaysia will have a future.
There are many who can make a difference to football, but they would rather talk about it than do something.
Take the Ex-State and Ex-National Players Association of Malaysia, whose members are the cream of Malaysia’s former players.
While they clamour to be included in the state coaching programmes, they themselves have not initiated any for young players.
They cannot keep waiting for others to offer assistance.
As an association for former national and state players, I am sure one of their objectives is to help with the development of the game.
So, why have they not set up academies around the country with their members at the helm? Obviously, the question is who will finance such academies.
I am sure as household names and with titles to their names, many of these former players can source for sponsors who will want to be associated with such noble programmes.
Or the association could approach the Ministry of Education to help out at schools.
And nobody is asking these ex-internationals and state players to offer their services for free.
With funds from the sponsors or an agreement with the Ministry of Education, I am sure there will be enough to pay the coaches.
But more often than not, these ex-stars seem more interested in their own welfare.
Two years ago, the association came up with a brilliant idea to organise the 1st Malaysia Day Ex-Internationals/State Invitational Soccer 9s. It was a congregation of past players from all the states and ex-international players from Singapore, Thailand, Brunei and Australia.
The tournament, held under the chairmanship of Datuk M. Kuppan and Bwandi Hiralal, was not only to enhance comradeship among past players, but to raise funds as well.
The funds were to be used for the well-being of the members, scholarships for their children and to organise coaching clinics.
Sadly, poor efforts by the members, many of whom did not lift a finger to source for funds, saw the tournament end in the red.

Datuk M. Kuppan and Bwandi Hiralal
HONOURED: Datuk M. Kuppan and Bwandi Hiralal awarding Malacca's V. Kalimuthu the oldest player award for the 2011 Ex- Internationals tournament

And even sadder, the tournament died.
It was a great endeavour that could have been developed into one of the region’s premier tournaments for ex-internationals.
More importantly it could become a regular source of funds for the association. However, the association is just content with playing annual friendly matches and going on overseas trips.
There are some ex-internationals, however, who are contributing to Malaysian soccer in their own way. Former Perak and national player Datuk M. Karathu travels every weekend from Ipoh to Kuala Lumpur to handle the Royal Selangor Club Junior Soccer development programme. He has enlisted the services of former internationals V. Kalimuthu, P. Umparam and brothers Lim Chuan Chin and Lim Hong Guan.
If more ex-internationals got involved in grassroots development, the future of soccer would certainly brighten.
On that note, it is interesting to note the mushrooming of private football academies in the country.
While this is good for the development of the game, many of these academies cater to the rich and famous and charge exorbitant fees.
Yes, there are also many academies that cater to the masses, some of which are well managed with sponsors backing them. But many are just money-making businesses, and the majority of them do not even have qualified coaches.
Perhaps, it is time the FA of Malaysia or even the Ex-State and Ex-National Players Association of Malaysia sanctioned and monitored these centres. This will ensure there is some quality control and we can be assured that the children are taught the right way and above all they get value for their money.
So, let us walk the talk.

TONY MARIADASS, is the consulting
Sports Editor with The
Malay Mail. A former Sports Editor
of the paper, he has 27 years
of sports writing experience.
He can be reached at tonym@

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Clean Malaysia Games


Clean Malaysia Games

Friday, July 19, 2013 - 10:53 (The  Malay Mail)

may be no provisions for breathalyser tests under the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) code but the National Sports Institute (NSI) will be discussing with the National Sports Council (NSC) to ensure dope, smoke and alcohol-free Malaysia Games (Sukma) in Perlis next year.
Datuk Dr Ramlan Aziz, NSI CEO said although alcohol testing is only for six sports under the Wada Code, they will still be looking at ways to work closely with the Malaysian Anti Doping Agency (Adamas) unit, which is part of the NSI set-up, to come up with measures in accordance with Wada requirements adhered in the six sports.
"The Sport Minister (Khairy Jamaludin) has already asked Adamas to explore ways to keep alcohol consumption at Games under check and we have already presented an outline to him," said Ramlan.
"We will be discussing further with NSC who are the managers of the Games to see how best we can come up with a system.
"The bigger picture here is to ensure a clean and creditable Games, especially as it involves teenagers.
"What happened recently was an isolated case in the history of the Games, but we want to instill ethics of sport to ensure that sports is held in the highest esteem."

Breathalyser test floored

Breathalyser test floored

Doc: Alcohol comes under the second category and is only prohibited in-competition
Friday, July 19, 2013 - 10:50 (The Malay Mail)      

random breathalyser test recommended for athletes at sports competitions cannot be implemented as the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) Code caters only for six sports.
Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, in addressing questions in Parliament last week pertaining to an alleged rape and alcohol consumption at the 2013 Malaysia Games (Sukma), had said he would request the Malaysian Anti-Doping Agency (Adamas) to test athletes for alcohol besides drugs.
While it was a noble suggestion that received positive response from several national sports associations, Datuk Dr Gurcharan Singh, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) medical chairman, FIFA medical committee member and World Badminton Federation (WBF) chairman of the medical committee, clarified that alcohol consumption is a player’s right and not a criminal or doping offence except in the six sports outlined in the Wada Code.
Under the code, the 2013 prohibited list (international standard) has two categories — substances and methods prohibited at all times (in and out-of-competition) and substances prohibited in certain sports.
Alcohol comes under the second category and is only prohibited in-competition. The sports are aeronautic, archery, automobile, karate, motorcycling and power boating.
Detection of alcohol in the said sports is conducted by analysis of breath and/or blood. The doping violation threshold (haematological values) is 0.10 g/L.
GURCHARAN: Alcohol consumption is not a criminal or doping offence
“A blood concentration in excess of 0.10 g/l constitutes an anti-doping rule violation only in the specific sports outlined in the code,” explained Gurcharan, who is a consultant sports medicine physician.
“Handball is not in the list. Procedure for testing of players is stipulated within the code and needs to be adhered to accordingly. Any deviation from the international standards for testing may render the outcome invalid.
“Consuming alcohol at an unauthorised location is an offence as per local laws. Overindulgence in alcohol may lead to unacceptable behavioural conduct and is subject to disciplinary action by the sports federation, but it is not a doping offence.”
The handball players and officials were alleged to have consumed alcohol after their competition but in the Games Village.
They were believed to have been suspended pending investigations, but it is learnt that they have not been issued an official letter by the National Handball Federation.
The three handball players who were alleged to have raped a 20-year-old chaperone were charged under Section 376(1) of the Penal Code separately in three Sessions Courts last week.
All three pleaded not guilty to the charge.
The courts granted bail at RM10,000 in one surety each and fixed Aug 20 for mention.

The ‘Malaysian way’ syndrome

Friday, July 19, 2013 - 10:46 (The Malay Mail)      

tony mariadass
WHAT is it with foreign coaches and Malaysian sports associations?
The latest to experience Malaysian “in-hospitality” is national hockey coach Paul Revington, who, after having resigned before the World League semi-final in Johor Baru, has agreed to stay for the championship.
And on Tuesday, Revington was persuaded to fulfil his contract which ends in August next year.
Revington is not the first foreign coach to face problems working in Malaysia, as many others in various sports had had similar encounters and either left in a huff , terminated their contracts or were amicably dismissed by the sports associations.
I can remember as far back as 1986 when national soccer coach from England, Frank Lord, left with a game in hand in the pre-World Cup tournament in Seoul after the FA of Malaysia management decided not to entertain his request to extend his contract before the match.
Malaysia had defeated Korea 1-0 at home and needed only a draw in the away match to qualify for the next round, but FAM decided that they could do it without Lord. They named Mohamad Bakar as the coach and recalled the late Datuk Mokhtar Dahari from retirement for the match.
Malaysia lost 2-0 to Korea. To this day, I believe Malaysia would have got a draw in Seoul and qualified for the next round with Lord at the helm.
Lord had this to say about working in Malaysia before he left: “Malaysia is a beautiful country, warm and friendly people, great food and places to visit, but definitely not a place to work in sport.”
The list of foreign coaches who exited the Malaysian coaching scene, frustrated at not being given a free hand or forced out by the associations, is indeed long.
Among the notable ones are badminton’s Morten Frost (Denmark), Park Joo Bong and Yoo Yong Sung (Korea), Li Mao (China) and Rexy Mainakay (Indonesia), soccer’s Trevor Hartley (England) and George Knoble (Holland), Claude Le Roy (France) and the late Bertalan Bisskek (Hungary), and athletics’ Daniel St Hilaire (Canada).
Revington was quoted as saying: “I never experienced such situations when coaching in South Africa and Ireland. So it came as a culture shock and the fact that something that should have been resolved in about three weeks took five months was also a bane for me.”
Granted, foreign coaches have to understand the local culture and make adjustments, but when this means compromising on work ethic, it is indeed baffling.
Why must Malaysian sports associations or the National Sports Council hire foreign coaches, pay them well, with perks thrown in, only to tell them to do things the Malaysian way? How then will they be able to impart their expertise to the players and local coaches?
The associations should just hire local coaches, who come much cheaper, and get them to work the way the administrators want them to.
If Revington or other foreign coaches had problems working in Malaysia, it probably had to do with their personality, but when we have a string of them crying foul for the same reasons — interference from the administrators, lack of support from the local coaches, revolting players, the unfulfilment of the terms of contract, among others — we have to take a hard look at ourselves.
Is there something wrong with our sports officials? Are local coaches intimidated by foreign coaches? Are players shying away from regimented training and playing politics?
Foreign coaches are not here to stay. They will leave when their contracts end. So shouldn’t we tap their experience and knowledge so that local coaches can become better?
It is time the authorities who hire these foreigners acted more professionally.
More often than not, they do not take the trouble to understand what makes these coaches tick and how they work.
By the same token, the foreign coaches have to respect our culture. There have been cases where they were problematic, but we have to follow procedures when dismissing them. If local sports officials had dealt with matters, however trivial, properly, they would not have run into problems.
Why ruin it when we have a good thing going for Malaysian sport?
Local sports offi cials should stop playing politics, taking the side of players or officials and promoting their own agenda.
REVINGTON: Not the first foreign coach to be facing problems working in Malaysia
At the end of the day, sport is bigger than any individual.
With mutual respect, working towards a common goal and leaving politics and bickering out of the equation, Malaysian sport will surely see better times.
Let us not tarnish our image in the eyes of foreign coaches.

Miscued mission for excellence

Miscued mission for excellence

Friday, July 12, 2013 - 12:37 (The Malay Mail) 

tony mariadass
GRANTED, schools are the nurseries of sport, but are student athletes being overtaxed? Judging by the number of meets they are involved in, they could be in danger of burning out.
: The Malaysia Games draws about 80 per cent student
CLOSING CEREMONY: The Malaysia Games draws about 80 per cent student participation annually
Besides the annual school activities — inter-class, inter-house, inter-district and national championships — these athletes also compete in many local and international multi-sport events.
At district level, a total of 805,088 students are involved yearly while at state and national levels, it is 100,636 and 12,154 respectively.
At the recent 16th Malaysia Games, easily 80 per cent of the participants were school athletes.
When the Games was introduced in 1986, it was an open-age event. But as it duplicated the various national championships, an age limit of under 23 was introduced. This was later reduced to under 21 and now there are plans bring it down to under 19.
The objective of the Games was to enable the hosts to acquire new sports facilities and unearth fresh talent, especially among school leavers aged 19 to 21.
The point is, while student athletes who find places in tertiary institutions can participate in the Games, those who do not continue their studies are left in the wilderness.
So too are those who go to colleges. There are about 500 colleges in Malaysia, but the majority of them do not promote sport and do not have the facilities.
Thus, the Malaysia Games continues to survive on the supply of athletes from schools, which does not augur well for the development of sport in the country.
International meets for school athletes this year include the Australian Youth Olympic Festival, Asian Youth Games, Asean Schools Games, 21st Little Athletics International and the inaugural Asian Schools Track and Field championships, not to mention the various Asian schools championships for soccer, rugby, athletics, table tennis, swimming and tenpin bowling, to name but a few.
Apart from burnout, there is also the issue of students missing school due to their involvement in sport. Athletes from sports schools easily miss about 70 days of school due to training and competition.
While it is good news that top athletes in schools are getting ample exposure through competition, it must not exhaust them or cause them to neglect their studies.
Yet, the vacuum in the 19 to 21 age group has to be addressed.
True, athletes are coming through from the universities, the Games organised by the Malaysian Universities Sports Council (for public universities), the Polytechnic Sports Council, the Community College Sports Council, Private Institutions of Higher Education Sports Council and the Malaysian Institution of Higher Learning Games (SUKIPT), but a lot more needs to be done to widen the athlete base and reduce the burden of students.
It is pointless to organise Games for the sake of organising them or competing in competitions for the sake of competition. Millions of ringgit are being spent in the name of sport and there has to be accountability and returns without overtaxing school athletes.