Friday, August 30, 2013

Magic, coincidence or trickery?


Friday, August 30, 2013 - The Malay Mail

tony mariadass
IS it the magic of the Malaysia Cup or some invisible hand that caused the twists and turns in the competition over the last two weeks?
While the die-hard football fans and romantics would like to believe that this was due to traditional Malaysia Cup rivalry and a burning desire to win, too many coincidences have raised suspicions in the football fraternity.
The coaches cannot understand the sudden drop in the form of the players. Some of them are even suggesting that certain players have played their last match for their teams. Others have complained of players failing to follow instructions or capitalising on chances, poor defending and goalkeepers making schoolboy mistakes.
Of course, it cannot be proved that the players deliberately played below their capability.
Already this whole affair has had a casualty but it is not a player. Selangor coach Irfan Bakti Abu Salim quit on Wednesday after his team’s 3-0 loss to club side Sime Darby because he was embarrassed by the defeat. He took full responsibility for his team’s poor performance.
Also, Selangor FA deputy president Datuk Mokhtar Ahmad disclosed that he had received a test message that his team was going down 3-0 even before the match was played.
And this is not the first time a pre-match forecast has turned out to be true.
Johor FA president Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim and Negri Sembilan FA president Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan too have come out to say that they suspect match-fixing by their respective teams.
Adding a new twist to this ugly episode is the insinuation that match officials are also involved based on some of their dubious decisions.
I personally received prematch predictions, which turned out to be true, when I was managing the Malay Mail FC, which competed in the Premier League for three seasons from 2000. It was a match against Kelantan in Kota Baru and there was a message on the whiteboard in the team’s briefi ng room before the match read: Kelantan 7 Malay Mail 2.
Another official and I were the first to enter the room and we immediately wiped off the ‘prediction’.
 Fans who have given their undivided support
BIG LOSERS: Fans who have given their undivided support to football teams seem to have been betrayed

And despite the newspaper team taking the lead twice, we lost 7-2! Coincidence? At the time, I thought so. But as time went by, my suspicions grew. But it was too late. Our team was demoted to the FAM Cup league for the 2003 season.
Coming back to the present, Mokhtar has offered an explanation for his team’s dismal performance. He said he was aware that several of his players, whose contracts expire at the end of the season, were in negotiations with other teams or had been promised contracts with them for the new season. He said he believes this made the players lose focus on their game.
This is indeed generous of Mokhtar. But then, is this professional of the players? They demand exorbitant wages and claim that they are professionals, but are they following the code of ethics? Whatever it is, there is definitely more than meets the eye.
Is match-fixing rearing its ugly head again? Was match-fixing even addressed? Or have the authorities turned a blind eye, hoping that it will go away?
Time and time again, we have had such cases cropping up, involving even junior players and coaches in the President Cup tournament.
An expert from Fifa came to investigate match-fixing in Malaysia and his findings clearly showed that it was happening here. But his report was rubbished.
Mokhtar has reports that there was heavy betting on the many online betting sites and bets were placed on Sime Darby to win 3-0 and the payout was small. This only means that this was the favourite forecast for the match.
Coincidence again?
Maybe the FA of Malaysia’s integrity committee, headed by chairman Tan Sri Aseh Che Mat, can shed some light on the current situation.
It is a pity that the efforts to raise the standard of the game by Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, who is also the chairman of the National Football Development Committee (NFDC), have to come up against such rot.
The eight-year NFDC programme recently saw the appointment of former international and Germany-based Lim Teong Kim as the project director.
However, the best programmes are not going to make any difference if there is even an ounce of suspicion that the beautiful game is not being played in the true spirit of sportsmanship and fair play.
The biggest losers must surely be the thousands of fans who flood the stadiums, paying for tickets with their hardearned money and shouting themselves hoarse each time their favourite team takes to the field.
One wonders if the Malaysia Cup champion for this season has already been decided by the invisible hand.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Irfan quits


Assistant coach Maniam will take charge
Thursday, August 29, 2013 - The Malay Mail

SELANGOR coach Irfan Bakti Abu Salim has tendered his resignation in the wake of the team’s two consecutive defeats and lying at the bottom of their Group A table of the Malaysia Cup competition.
The resignation letter was submitted to FA of Selangor deputy president Datuk Mokhtar Ahmad yesterday evening, when the latter had asked for a meeting to discuss Selangor’s predicament in the Malaysia Cup competition.
“I had asked to see Irfan to discuss the team’s poor performance of late, but he tendered his resignation citing he is embarrassed to have seen Selangor go down to a club side on Tuesday (lost 3-0 to Sime Darby) and he takes full responsibility,” Mokhtar told Mailsports yesterday after the meeting.
“We accept his decision as he was firm on his decision. Assistant coach P. Maniam will take charge for the remaining campaign in the Malaysia Cup competition.”
Irfan’s two-year contract with Selangor was due to expire on Nov 30 “I will be meeting the players at training tomorrow to inform them of Irfan’s decision,” said Mokhtar.
Irfan’s two-year contract with Selangor was due to expire on Nov 30.
Mokhtar said that he has been very disturbed over Selangor’s performance of late and had wanted to get to the bottom of the matter with his meeting with Irfan.
“But since Irfan has tendered his resignation, I will the players to find out why their performance has taken a nose-dive.”
Mokhtar, who is the chairman of FA of Selangor’s local and international competition committee, said that he has heard many reasons for Selangor’s performance but cannot pinpoint on any.
“For instance, I got a message before the match against Sime Darby that Selangor will be losing 3-0. What do I make out of it,” asked Mokhtar.
“Then I hear, players are already negotiating with other teams for the new season and could that be the reason for poor performance because they are not focused.
“Some say that players have lost respect for Irfan.
“All these are hearsay, but very disturbing. In a professional setup, issues like these should not arise.
“After my talk with the players tomorrow (today), I hope to see some changes in our remaining three Group Malaysia Cup matches.
“We have a very balanced team, who should have won the Super League. We drew ten matches losing 20 points. I cannot understand their poor performances.”
Selangor has six national players -Norazlan Razali, Asraruddin Putra Omar, Mahalli Jasuli, K. Gurusamy, S. Kunanlan and Amri Yahyah - and two foreign players in Liberian international Forkey Doe and Adam Griffiths from Australia in their stable.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Football development a national agenda

Tuesday, August 27, 2013 - The Malay Mail

Minister Khairy Jamaluddin is passionate about football development, which is a good thing because it will help elevate the appalling standard of the game in the country.
The question is, will his plans be for the long term or only for as long as he is the sports minister?
“I am not here to leave behind a legacy, but to introduce a policy that is permanent and will bear fruit in the long term, which other sports ministers will probably reap,” said Khairy after opening the 13th RSC-Tigers 7s and the 11th RSC Milo under-12 international football tournaments at the Royal Selangor Club on Saturday morning.
He was commenting on the National Football Development Programme (NFDP) of which he is the chairman and which involves his ministry, the National Sports Council (NSC), the FA of Malaysia (FAM) and the Ministry of Education. The eight-year programme was initiated last year with the target of seeing Malaysia qualify for the FIFA Under-17 World Cup in 2019.
Last week, Khairy appointed Germany-based former international midfi elder Lim Teong Kim as NFDP's project director.
“I will be announcing the full details of the NFDP, which will see some changes. It will be an elaborate programme where we will be engaging many parties, including the corporate sector, private clubs like the RSC, soccer academies and individuals who are interested to contribute to the development of the game,” said Khairy.
“A development and grassroots programme does not bring overnight success. It is not front page or even sports page material. It takes time and, more often than not, is not in the limelight. It involves a great deal of work, patience and dedication.
“To put the system in place, everyone must understand and work towards a common goal.
Asked about school football and the lack of and poor fields, Khairy said the NFDP is an open programme.
“It will involve everyone who is interested to play football.
We will have an open system for selection to the next level and everyone can participate.
But that does not mean that once you are eliminated from the selection process, you will be left out. We have to think of the late bloomers too.
“We have already finalised plans for 30 to 50 artificial turf pitches to be evenly distributed among the states, which will address the poor quality and lack of fields. These fields — at least two per state — will serve as the nucleus for young footballers to train.”
He said that although maintenance cost for artificial pitches is low, a budget for maintenance has been included.
Khairy said he is also getting ex-international players to get involved at school level in their respective states and serve as talent scouts.
“We will also be asking the government for more allocation for this project and at the same time, we are counting on the corporate sector to support the project.” As for club football, Khairy said the ministry cannot do everything.
“We are focused on development and hope that FAM, through its state FAs, makes a concerted eff ort to ensure football clubs are established in all the states and run effectively because that is the next level where the players will come from.”
Khairy's plan sounds great and is indeed long overdue. Hopefully, it will be a permanent feature and even get gazetted so that it does not disappear when the next sports minister comes along.

Roses among thorns

Sammi and Muzdalifah steal the show

Tuesday, August 27, 2013 - The Malay Mail

HOLDING COURT: Zahra being cornered by boys to win possession of the ball
HOLDING COURT: Zahra being cornered by boys to win possession of the ball

It is a game more widely played among men.
But for 12-year-old Zahra Muzdalifah and 32-year-old Sammi Wei Chun Yi, that did not stop them as they played alongside and against the other gender at the RSC-International Soccer 7s at the Royal Selangor Club (RSC) facility in Bukit Kiara.
While both insist they do notsee a problem with it but in fact enjoy playing with their male counterparts, Sammi believes “when you play football with the men, you have to play like them.”
Both the foreign talents also hope that more girls would pick up the sport in time to come.
“I don’t see a difference playing with men and women apart from physique. It is as normal and very much as fun. I am glad no one stayed away from me but treated me as equal to the men. I had fun playing in this tournament and it was more of playing for the joy of it than winning," said the Chinese national.
“I just tried my best on the fi eld. I could have scored in our fi rst game against Korean Club but I decided to pass the ball to my teammate to score.
“I enjoy playing with the men,” Sammi laughed.
Sammi, who has been in Malaysia for five years, only started to play at RSC last year, but had represented China at youth level during her teenage years.
According to her, uncertainties in the sport back then in her homeland drove her away from pursuing it further but was delighted to be kicking some footballs again.
The My Malaysia Second Home programme resident came to Malaysia five years ago to pursue her studies before setting-up a land consultancy business. It was through some good friends at RSC that she begun playing football once again.
Sammi, has a coaching licence but does not have the time to coach in Malaysia.
Meanwhile, Jakarta-born Zahra had been following her dad for futsal for three years until the age of 10 before she decided to play football.
It was only two years ago she began learning techniques before enrolling in one of Jakarta’s top football youth academies Asiop Apacinti, last year.
Zahra, who doesn’t know much about global football apart from Barcelona, hopes she will be able to continue playing at a higher level in the future.
HAS FUN PLAYING FOOTBALL WITH MEN: Sammi Wei, one of the two female players in the RSC International Soccer 7s..
“It all started when I followed my dad. I never looked back since. It is not a big deal to play in a team full of boys. I want to continue playing with them until I can and then seek other options in the sport.
“I would love to someday play for the Indonesian women’s team but if they don’t have a team, then I will have to play outside the country,” said Zahra.
Asiop Apacinti is a youth development academy catering for football aspirants aged six to 17. It was set-up in 1997 and is currently headed by Indonesian national team assistant coach Yeyen Tumena.
The academy marked its debut in the Under-12 category by defeating defending champions JSSL Arsenal Wilshere 3-0 in the fi nal yesterday. Asiop Apacinti also won the Under-12 Norway Cup in Olso last month.

Monday, August 26, 2013

‘We can no longer think about what Umno wants’


Monday, August 26, 2013 - The Malay Mail 

DATUK SERI Azalina Othman Said’s recent announcement to contest the Wanita Umno chief post in the coming party polls came as a shock and ruffled many feathers. Just when many thought her political career had hit a wall, the Pengerang MP is being seen by some as an option to the incumbent women’s wing leader Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil. She puts her candidacy in perspective in 10 questions posed by The Malay Mail.

THE MALAY MAIL (TMM): In a recent interview, Shahrizat accused you of hurting the ‘mother-daughter’ relationship in Wanita Umno. She said you created disunity among the Wanita and Puteri wings and former Puteri members. Did you?
DATUK SERI AZALINA OTHMAN (DSAO): If it is mother-daughter relationship she is talking about, then she should encourage the daughters to move forward and lead. A mother always wants her daughters to eventually take over the leading role.
Besides, in Umno, we practise democracy. We advocate transformation. And at the end of the day, it is up to the delegates to decide if they want change.
Why should we stop the delegates from making their own judgment? It is all about what the grassroots want. It is not about creating disunity, but empowering them to make a decision.
I am just offering my services. It is up to the delegates to make a choice. Competition is a good thing for the party because there are options.
Contests in Umno are not unique or new. In any case, I may not be the only one standing for the post. There can be other candidates. Will all of them be deemed to be creating disunity?

TMM: Shahrizat has insinuated that you are a proxy candidate, and perhaps there are others like you who will get into the battleground. Are you a proxy candidate?
DSAO: Yes, I am a proxy for all Wanita in the party. There is a call for change and I am representing them.

TMM: Why did Shahrizat say you were not bringing a ‘youth transformation’ agenda to Wanita Umno, but rather segregating them by creating disunity among Wanita, Puteri and former Puteri members?
DSAO: I have served my time in Umno and rose through the ranks. I was the protem head of Puteri Umno (2001-2002) appointed by then-Umno president Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, elected head of Puteri Umno, vice-president of Umno (2002–2004) and was a member of the Umno Supreme Council. I am still relevant, but it is not about me. I believe I can assist in the 14th General Election by having the youth back Umno. I believe I can bring unity to the party with my experience over the years through those who have worked with me and brought changes in the past. Again, this is a democratic process, not a process of divide and rule. Anyway, there has been a contest before and Shahrizat herself challenged Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz. Was she splitting the party then? Win or lose, it is offering the delegates a choice. It is their decision.

TMM: What sort of differences are you having with Shahrizat?
DSAO: Personally, I respect every individual for their work. Likewise, Shahrizat has done her share. I do not practise cronyism or nepotism. I accept challenges, empower women, create awareness and promote more women leadership. Are these seen as differences with her? I do not know.

TMM: Why are you taking her on? Is it because you think Shahrizat has outlived her usefulness in Wanita Umno?
DSAO: I am not taking her on. I am offering my services to Wanita. Like I said earlier, I may not be the only candidate vying for the post, so I cannot be seen as taking her on.
It is a democratic process where everyone is eligible to contest if they want to. Whether she has outlived her usefulness is not for me to say. That is why we have an election for the delegates to make their call.
I am also contesting the post because, besides feeling I can make a change, I want women to be more relevant, and I feel I can make that happen.
The government’s commitment to ensure women occupy 30 per cent of decision-making has still not been met, and this is one area I intend to improve.
The women at branch and division levels should have a stronger voice and be given more recognition.
It is my hope to make Wanita and Puteri Umno more relevant. We are talking about the younger generation who will be making a difference for the future.
It is already happening and unless we address the situation immediately, we could be courting trouble. I am not just talking about Umno but Barisan Nasional (BN) as a whole for the next general election.

TMM: What do you think has been Shahrizat’s biggest achievement in Wanita Umno?
DSAO: Her appointment as adviser to the prime minister with cabinet portfolio. She has obviously been given this status because of her past contributions and the prime minister still sees her as relevant. This is the second time she has been appointed adviser (former prime minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi appointed her special adviser to the prime minister for women and social development affairs). This must be her biggest achievement.

TMM: How would you interpret her appointment as special adviser, with ministerial status, to the prime minister?
DSAO: It is in recognition of her services. In any case, it is the prerogative of the prime minister.

TMM: Do you think there’s a necessity for the position? Are critics right in saying it will undermine the status of the women’s ministry, which already has a large machinery to lead on policy and implementation of women’s issues?
DSAO: Whether it is necessary or not, I suppose Datuk Rohani Abdul Karim, the minister of women, family and community development, made her stance when she said: ‘She’s not an adviser to my ministry.’ Shahrizat’s role is still unclear, thus it would be unfair to make any comments at this stage.

TMM: Do you view her appointment as political patronage?
DSAO: I suppose only the prime minister can answer that. This is a democratic process, and I’m sure the prime minister has his reasons.

TMM: Have you found the correct strategy to do battle with her and is your support among Wanita members encouraging?
DSAO: Whether or not I have found the correct strategy, I am letting the people decide what they want for the future. I am offering my services because I believe I can bring about change.
Through Wanita Umno, I hope to see that the women representation is given priority and achieve the 30 per cent quota for decision-making positions.
There needs to be transformation at Wanita level to make us relevant, heard and rejuvenated. I plan to bring change and new approaches to the Wanita wing as I don’t want to see a tsunami of young people against Umno in the 14th General Election.
Contest in the Umno elections should be viewed as healthy competition to ensure that the party remains relevant to the Malays and BN. The party cannot be complacent.
What can the Opposition do that we cannot do better? We need to have new leaders to guide the younger generation to embrace Umno’s struggle.
We can no longer think about what Umno wants. We have to think about what the rakyat wants. It is their perception that counts in the end. We are here to serve them. What the public thinks is what matters.
In Wanita Umno, it should not be about who is married or who wears the tudung or the baju kurung. It should be about who can bring about change and make Umno relevant to present times. Wanita Umno should not just accessorise Umno, but be a relevant wing to meet the challenges of the party.
Wanita Ummo should also be seen as making a stronger representation of women and be heard. We cannot just leave it to the NGOs to be the voice of women. The recent uproar over Malay girls being barred from the Miss Malaysia pageant saw no reaction from Wanita Umno.
At the end of the day, it is all about KPIs.
These are the issues I intend to work on and the people on the ground are aware of it. It is now left to the delegates to decide what they want for the future.
If Wanita Umno doesn’t accept me and the change I’m bringing, so be it. But at least I offered myself. I’m not going to be a sore loser. I will accept whatever decision that is made.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

First-class facilities, third-class management

Friday, August 23, 2013 - 16:24

tony mariadass
IT is typical for Malaysians to create a furore whenever an issue arises and then to forget about it until there is another controversy about the same issue.
The issue could be related to anything from safety and security to public amenities and the transport system. When it is a hot topic, a great deal is said and written about it, but whether a solution is found is a mystery.
Over the last two weeks, the woeful condition of fields in stadiums around the country raised public outcry. This came after Barcelona FC refused to play at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil because of the poor ground. The match was moved to Shah Alam Stadium at the eleventh hour.
In this country, badly maintained football fields are nothing new. No one is bothered.
Every year, the FA of Malaysia visits the various stadiums before the M-League begins to inspect and approve the venues for the competition.
More often than not, most of the venues are given the nod, but then we will have coaches, managers and players complaining of poor playing conditions when the league starts.
In the last two seasons, only the Kuala Lumpur Football Stadium in Bandar Tun Razak was not approved because of its deplorable state.
It is worth noting here that the Johor FA, under the leadership of Crown Prince Tunku Ismail Idris, refurbished the Larkin Stadium, which is now said to be comparable to the stadiums in Europe.
The question is, has the FA of Malaysia been compromising on the standard of pitches so that the League could progress? It is not just the stadiums that are falling apart. Most of the sports complexes and public playing fields around the country are in shambles too.
But when the matter on playing fields is brought up, everyone passes the buck. The sports associations will say the stadiums do not belong to them and so the responsibility of maintaining them is not theirs. Normally, this is the job of the respective municipalities or the stadium boards, but these people will say they do not have enough funds for maintenance.
Then, we have local councils that withdraw allocations for maintenance or renovation because the stadiums are managed by the sports associations.
Maintenance should start from the very day approval is given to build new stadiums, but this is not the case. It is left to the stadium managers, which more often than not run into problems because their budgets do not permit it.
Then we have states building stadiums and complexes for international or local games like the Malaysia Games.
There is a big budget for such events and every sports association clamours for a venue.
We have a swimming pool complex in the middle of a padi field in Gunung Keriang, Kedah, and a football stadium in the middle of a plantation in Batu Kawan, Penang.
As soon as the related games were over, the swimming pool and the stadium became white elephants and began to deteriorate because they were hardly used.
These are just two examples and I am sure many other such sports facilities are in the same boat.
The grounds used for development is also deplorable
POOR CONDITIONS: The grounds used for development is also deplorable
Then, there are stadiums and complexes where the artificial turf is worn out or torn and not resurfaced, not to mention public and school fields that are in a sorry state.
Football development programmes face the same fate.
For example, the 1Malaysia Cardiff City junior league, which is held on the Rubber Research Institute premises in Sungai Buloh, is played on poor grounds.
Some of the fields the matches are played on look barren and dangerous. How then can we expect to develop the skills of these young players? Maybe the stadium managers should take their cue from Australia and their multipurpose stadium built for the 2000 Sydney Olympics, which I covered.
The stadium was originally built to temporarily hold 110,000 spectators, making it the largest Olympic stadium ever built then as well as the largest in Australia. But in 2003, reconfiguration work was completed to shorten the north and south wings and install movable seating. These changes reduced the capacity to 83,500 for a rectangular field and 82,500 for an oval field.
The stadium is sustained through sponsorship. It lacked a naming rights sponsor in its formative years, but in 2002, telecommunications company Telstra acquired the naming rights, resulting in the stadium being named Telstra Stadium.
And on Dec 12, 2007, the Stadium Australia Group announced that the stadium's name was to be changed to ANZ Stadium after concluding a deal with ANZ Bank worth around A$31.5 million (about RM94.35 million) over seven years. This change took effect on Jan 1, 2008.
This stadium is also a tourist attraction with official tours and it has souvenir shops, all of which generate revenue.
Maybe it is time the stadiums in Malaysia were built to meet our needs, corporate sponsorship was sought and innovative ideas were used for these sports facilities to not only be self-sustaining, but also generate revenue.
TONY MARIADASS is consulting sports
editor at The Malay Mail. A former sports
editor of the paper, he has 27 years of
sports writing experience. He can be
reached at

Friday, August 23, 2013

Teong Kim named project director


Sports Minister announces the appointment to chart the development of Malaysian football
Thursday, August 22, 2013 - 15:28

-based former international midfielder Lim Teong Kim has been appointed the project director of the National Football Development Programme (NFDP).
Lim, who turned 50 in April, said he will assume the post in November after discussing his appointment with his wife Michaela Mock in Germany.
Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin announced the appointment yesterday evening at Putrajaya.
The former Bayern Munich youth coach, first met Khairy Jamaluddin before the Hari Raya holidays to discuss the possibility of hism assisting in the NFDP, had another meeting with the minister on Tuesday to finalise his appointment.
Khairy is the chairman of the national football development committee, which involves the Youth and Sports Ministry, the NSC, the FA of Malaysia (FAM) and the Ministry of Education. The eight-year NFDP was initiated last year with the target of seeing Malaysia qualify for the FIFA Under-17 World Cup in 2019.
Teong Kim has been offered a three years plus the option of a two-year extension contract. He will sign the contract when he returns from Germany.
Lim returns to Munich on Saturday and will return after he has settled a few matters pertaining to his move to Malaysia.
He will be taking over from his older brother Lim Kim Choon, who held the technical director's post until June and did not renew his contract. Kim Choon has join the Fifa development programme as its technical director at the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) building in Bukit Jalil.
Khairy said that Teong Kim's designation as project director means that he will have bigger responsibilities.
“Yes, everything has been firmed up and all that needs to be sorted out is my discussion with my wife. Her mother passed away recently and I need to be there for her and to ensure that everything is settled before I return to Malaysia,” said Lim, who played for the Bundesliga side Herta Berlin in 1987 besides Malacca, Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Negri Sembilan and Kedah in the M-League.
“My family will still be based in Germany and only I will come to take up the appointment.
I have discussed this with the Sports Minister and he understands my predicament.
He has given me his blessing to return to Germany to be with my family from time to time.”
Lim has a son aged 20 and two daughters aged 18 and 17.
The Malacca boy said he is excited about his new post and charting Malaysia’s football future. However, he warned against any expectation of instant results.
“Football development is a long process and results cannot be achieved overnight.
I intend to put in place the European and latest methods of football development and ensure that they work,” said Lim, who coached the Bayern Munich junior team from 2001 to 2012 and worked with coaches like Owen Hargreaves, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Thomas Muller and David Alaba.
He holds both a Malaysia Football Association (FAM) Advanced Coaching Certificate and a German Football Association (DFB) Master Coaching Licence.
“It is going to be a challenging job, but I thrive on challenges. It is going to be a tough process, but once everything is in place, Malaysia should see a steady stream of young and well-trained footballers coming through,” said Lim, who was capped 75 times.
He added that as his brother Kim Choon has already laid the foundationsfor the NFDP, but his work will be in-depth and involve some restructuring. He will first ensure there is better infrastructure, especially playing fields, are in place.
“We are talking about the 14 centres in the country besides the Malaysian Football Academy in Gambang, Kuantan, where I intend to ensure better playing fields, training facilities and sports science-related equipment for training, recovery and rehabilitation are available.
“However, I will have to do all this gradually as it will involve a great deal of work. Then I would need qualified and professional manpower for the entire programme.”
Asked how much the programme will cost, Lim said a price cannot be put on development, as it is an ongoing process.
“I understand that the government has made available RM10 million per year for development. We will have to start with this, but it is not going to be enough as we will have to pay for manpower and the facilities.”
Asked if he can make a bigger impact than when he was the director of coaching for soccer academies for 18 months with the FA of Malaysia in the 1990s, his reply was simple: “I am older, have 12 years of European and top club-level coaching experience and am definitely wiser.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Sport and music bring out the passion in us


Friday, August 16, 2013 - 11:40

SPORT and music make the world go round and touch your soul, at least where I am concerned.
Sport and music also do not have boundaries. People of all races, colours and creeds will congregate in the name of these two activities.
Sport, which has been my life all these years, has brought me joy, sorrow, respect and fear, but above all, it has introduced me to all kinds of people.
My love for sport started in school, where I was active in football. I played it at club level and was a coach and managed a team later in life. I travelled the world as a sports journalist and some three decades of sports journalism later, I cannot, and will not, detach myself from sport.
I love music too, though I cannot play any instrument.
My late father played the harmonica and harmonium, so there must be some music genes in my blood, or so I would like to believe.
In a nutshell, sport and music have been a huge part of my existence, but in the past two weeks, they have moved me like never before.
Two sportsmen and a musician died in this period. First, hockey star Chua Boon Huat was killed in a road accident.
Then during the Hari Raya holidays, one of Malaysia’s finest athletes, Ishtiaq Mubarak, died after a fall in the bathroom, and just a day later, a colleague and buddy, entertainment writer and musician Errol De Cruz, left us in almost similar circumstances.
What was amazing was the number of people who turned up for the funerals of all three of them to pay their last respects.
This drove home an important point – Chua, Ishtiaq and Errol had touched many lives through sport and music. The lesson here for the sporting fraternity is that you should not treat your involvement in sport lightly or take it for granted.
Sport, just like music, must be accorded the highest respect and sports people should strive for the best results, always.

GLOWING EXAMPLES: (from left) Isthiaq, Chua and Errol
GLOWING EXAMPLES: (from left) Isthiaq, Chua and Errol
Billions of ringgit are spent on sport in Malaysia and it is the livelihood of many. Indeed, millions will jump to their feet to applaud or shed tears in moments of glory or even defeat in this universe.
Thus it was disheartening to hear badminton ace Koo Kien Keat blame Malaysian fans for his poor form. He claims that fans expect too much of him and that he feels suffocated in his own country.
His audacity proves that he does not appreciate his status as a national badminton player and the support he is getting.
Strive for excellence and deliver and everything will fall into place. Don’t expect sympathy for mediocre performances. Give your best as there is no shame in losing to a better player or team. Just tell yourself that you will be back.
When you start blaming everyone else for your shortcomings, it only underlines your lack of character.
Koo seems to have forgotten that badminton brought him whatever accolades he has received. Now, he is ridiculing the very sport that put him on a pedestal.
Maybe he should take a leaf from the late Ishtiaq and Chua, who garnered so much respect, love and admiration.
Errol, despite not having been as high profile, showed you can touch people’s lives if you go about your job with passion and professionalism.
Chua, Ishtiaq and Errol have walked the path and showed the way. May they rest in peace.
As for our sportsmen and sportswomen, shed blood, sweat and tears in your quest for excellence and you will be remembered forever like the legends before you.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Teong Kim poser


Wednesday, August 14, 2013 - 15:19

GERMANY-based former international midfielder Lim Teong Kim (pic) is in town checking out the possibility of helping the grassroots football development in the country.
The 49-year-old former Bayern Munich youth coach met Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin last Monday and yesterday afternoon travelled to the Malaysian Football Academy in Gambang, Kuantan, with National Sports Council (NSC) officials.
Khairy is chairman of the national football development committee which involves the Youth and Sports Ministry, NSC, FA of Malaysia (FAM) and the Ministry of Education. An eight-year National Football Development Programme (NFDP) was initiated last year with the target to see Malaysia qualify for the FIFA Under-17 World Cup in 2019.
Teong Kim could well become the technical director of the NFDP as his older brother Lim Kim Choon who was holding the post did not renew his contract in June and went on to join the FIFA development programme office as their Technical Director at the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) building in Bukit Jalil.
Teong Kim confirmed yesterday with Mailsport his meeting with Khairy and his trip to Gambang.
“It is still all in the initial stages of discussion. Yes, I am interested to return to Malaysia and assist in the development of football in the country, but I have to be convinced that everything is in place and we can work well,” said Teong Kim who played with Bundesliga side Herta Berlin in 1987 besides Malacca, Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Negri Sembilan and Kedah in the M-League.

Teong Kim the man!

“It was a fruitful discussion with the Sports Minister who is serious about soccer development in the country. I need to see the system in place, the facilities and long-term plan, before making any decisions,” added Teong Kim who coached the Bayern Munich junior team from 2001 to 2012 and worked with coaches like Owen Hargreaves, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Thomar Muller and David Alaba.
“I am no longer with the Bayern Munich coaching set-up as the new management have new plans and restructured their coaching system.
“Since leaving Bayern Munich last year, I have been spending time doing things like cycling, travelling and other hobbies which was I unable to do when I was coaching.
“I would like to give something back to Malaysian soccer and will consider working here if everything is worked out well,” said Teong Kim who had a brief stint with the FA of Malaysia in the late 90s with the soccer academies.
But Teong Kim is a no-nonesense man and says that is the way it is. It might not go down well with many, but he speaks the truth and is serious about his job.
Teong Kim would definitely be the right man for the development of football in the country, provided it is done the way he wants and above all, professionally.
With the NFDP already in place and good groundwork put in by Kim Choon, Teong Kim could well see things move his way.
But the ball is at Teong Kim’s feet and only he can decide whether he will be the man.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Pampering breeds mediocrity


Monday, August 12, 2013 - 16:12

tony mariadass
EVER wonder why the majority of our young athletes lack ambition and settle for mediocre performances?
The answer is staring at us, but we choose to ignore it.
For instance, the Federal Territories (FT) Sports Council rewarded its athletes and officials with RM456,400 for winning medals at the recent 16th Malaysia Games.
Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor had announced that gold medal winners will be given RM5,000 for individual events and RM4,000 for team events.
Silver medallists were given RM1,500 for individual events and RM1,000 for team events was for bronze, the amounts were RM1,000 and RM800 respectively.
Ironically the contingent was praised for improving its performance from fifth place overall at the Pahang Games last year to third placing at the Kuala Lumpur Games this year.
Mind you, the contingent did not even emerge champions.
To make matters worse, this year’s Games was a second tier event — for the major sports that did not compete in the main Games held biennially.
The FT contingent, consisting of 196 athletes, eight team managers and 13 coaches, bagged 15 gold, 20 silver and 27 bronze medals in the 20 events they competed.
Similarly, other states offered monetary rewards, ranging from RM2,000 to RM5,000, for individual gold medals.
I am not against rewarding excellence, but definitely not performance at the lowest level of competition.
What kind of culture are we inculcating in our young athletes? That we dangle money in front of their noses for them to perform?
These young people should be taught to aim for the highest achievements and that there is no shortcut to success. It can only be done through hard work, discipline, dedication and determination.
But we spoil our athletes with monetary rewards from such a young age that they become financially mercenary.
They also become complacent because they know even mediocre performance will get rewarded.
Why can’t the FT Sports Council offer its successful athletes scholarships, computers, sports equipment or training stints instead?
TENGKU ADNAN: Gold medal winners would be given RM5,000 for individual events and RM4,000 for team events

Wouldn’t that benefit their development more? Truth be told, half a million ringgit would be better spent on a new training centre that would serve athletes now and in the future.
Even better, the money could get us more football fields in the city. They are disappearing fast and nothing is being done about it.
Apart from the FT Sports Council, I also feel Sports Minister Khairy Jamaludin made a wrong call in announcing that physically challenged athletes will get the same monetary rewards as the able-bodied.
For one, there are too many categories of disability for a single event and more often than not, no heats are held for the events.
Yes, rewarding physically challenged athletes at Asian and world levels, as in the case of Mohammad Azlan Mat Lazin, who clinched a bronze at the Sainsbury Anniversary Games in London, is commendable, but we cannot be rewarding them for lower level competitions.
Maybe a different reward system could be formulated for these athletes.
But able-bodied or physically-challenged, athletes have to earn their rewards with outstanding performance at high levels of competition.
Handouts will only breed mediocrity.
Sometimes, a popular decision is not necessarily the right one.
Let every athlete worth his salt strive for excellence at the highest level and be duly rewarded.

It's hard to be Errol

Heaven has new country singer, says brother

Monday, August 12, 2013 - 10:47


JOURNALIST Gerard Errol de Cruz was prtty much the Picasso of warmth in the newsroom. He was pretty much the template of delightful companionship.
To his family, friends and colleagues he was a ball of energy — sparkly; one of those who engulfs you in their orbit.
Humble Errol was the classic inspirational newsman who approached his discipline with an engineer’s precision.
Journo, music man, family man, fellow pub crawler and buddy Errol is no longer. He breathed his last on Saturday, aged 59.
Prolific is the word that springs to mind when one thinks about the opus and personality of Errol, who whilst with us embraced many with his down to earth writings, music and delightful wit.
We say the human spirit is resolute and Errol was an example of newspapering resolve that inspired us.
He snapped into challenges with forceful ferocity and was in a class of his own in human interest and entertainment stories.
‘Cowboy’ Errol, who was the singer and guitarist of the band, Two Hats Gang, had the knack of identifying and nurturing young, talented musicians through his writings that touched on dreams and self-discovery.
As a musician, his brother William, a former The Malay Mail journalist, describes him: “Heaven has a new country singer with a songbook that has no last page.
“I know you rest in peace dear brother. Here on the lonely planet, harmony will never be the same.”
Saturday night ‘cheers’ at one of his favourite pubs, Rennie’s House of Oxtail on Jalan Gasing, was endless. We raised our glasses with the fervent hope that the Errol feel good factor lasts. That the gaiety of his colourful life should never fade.
Sunday in The Malay Mail newsroom was sober and restrained.
Everyone was missing the trademark Cheshire smiles of Errol and another dear colleague Tan Pek Wan who is in the Intensive Care Unit at University Hospital fighting organ complications.
While we pray for Pek Wan, the ‘oracle’ of the editorial department’s IT unit, Errol’s role as copy editor of the People section has left a void in the paper.
Says crime reporter Thasha Jayamanogaran: “We've all lost a wonderful colleague. He was a unique and talented person who made a lot of people happy. He enriched our lives in so many ways.”
Having known him since he joined The Star in the 1980s and in the years that followed in groundbreaking Noize Records and back in The Malay Mail three years ago, Errol is one person I had wanted to be alongside during trying times because he was dependable, reliable and fearless.
His wife Alice Andrew and children Christopher, 26, Brendan, 24, Kathleen, 22, and Kimberley, 17, must know it will be hard to erase those footprints he left on us. It would be great if the next generation would just walk on them.
He is gone from our midst but someone up there would have welcomed him with open arms. Arms that always open for men with big hearts.
Thank you, Mr de Cruz for blessing us all.
Note: Errol's wake will be held
at 28, PJS 7/7B, Bandar Sunway,
Petaling Jaya. The funeral
mass is at 11am tomorrow at
the Assumption Church in Jalan
Templer, Petaling Jaya.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Success does not come overnight

Subahan wants reality to sink in, start afresh with football as a national agenda

Wednesday, August 07, 2013 - 10:12
The Malay Mail

IT is a long and winding road for Malaysian football before it can stand tall.
National team manager Datuk Seri Subahan Kamal (pic) said the faster this reality sinks in, the better.
“I am not offering excuses for the current standard of Malaysian football, but merely stating the facts,” said the FA of Malaysia vice-president.
“Many are under the illusion that we are already world beaters after our AFF Cup and Sea Games triumphs. It must be understood that these victories were just the beginning of a long road ahead.
“We cannot transform the national team overnight.
“Yes, we are doing everything possible to fast-track our improvement, but it is not that simple.
“We have to be realistic and start by topping the Asean countries first. As a matter of fact, the standard among Asean countries is almost the same. Our aim is to be consistent against these teams and reach the top first before moving on to Asian teams.
“Even at the Asian level, we should be aiming to be among the top 10 before we can even think of winning the Asian Cup.”
Although it has been said that football's progress is a national agenda, Subahan feels not enough has been done to put it on the right track.
“FA of Malaysia and the National Sports Council (NSC) have a joint committee, but I feel more has to be done than just setting up a committee.
“I feel that the sports minister and even other relevant cabinet ministers should work closely with the FA of Malaysia to bolster Malaysian football.”
Every aspect of the game has to be looked at, said Subahan, not just short-term programmes or instant success.
“There is no instant formula for success in football. It has to be a long-term programme and starting from the grassroots. We cannot address Malaysian soccer woes from the top.
“We have to start looking at the lack of or poor state of football fields in schools. We need to have programmes in place for the young in schools, districts and states. We need to have high calibre coaches placed under these programmes. There needs to be proper monitoring.
“The fact is that although we claim we have gone professional and our players are professionals, the general standard of play among the majority of them is average.”
Subahan also hopes to see more Malaysians play for clubs in Asia.
“Many went abroad but returned in no time. We need players who are mentally strong and serious about being professional footballers with high goals to achieve.
“That is the only way our present batch of players can improve while we wait for better quality and trained players from the grassroots programmes to arrive.
“It has to be a two-pronged attack. While having our footballers play for top Asian clubs is an immediate plan to rectify the ills of the game in Malaysia, the grassroots programmes will be our long-term plan to have better foundations and a steady stream of quality players coming through in the future.”
Patience is the key word, said Subahan, while there is a concerted effort by all the related parties.
“Only then will we see light at the end of the tunnel.”

Monday, August 5, 2013

Kamikaze in Japan?

Rajagobal is damned if he does and damned if he doesn't

Monday, August 05, 2013 - 14:05

is responsible for the national team’s debacle in Japan last week where they lost three friendly matches against clubs and conceded a total of 12 goals?
Critics already want national coach Datuk K. Rajagobal to be sacked for having taken the team to Japan during the fasting month and then admitting that it was a mistake as the majority of the players did not have the energy to play two of the three matches as they were held late morning and afternoon.
The national team lost 2-0 to J-League’s Shimizu S-Pulse — this game was played at 7pm - and then 5-0 to Shonan Bellmare and Tokyo Verdey, games that were played in three halves of 30 minutes.
It was a case of damned if you do, damned if you don’t for Rajagobal.
He was desperate for practice matches prior to playing against Barcelona FC on Aug 10 and as none was forthcoming, he decided to go to Japan at the invitation of Japan FA.
Critics say Rajagobal, as an experienced coach, should have known better than to take the team for the friendlies against the Japanese clubs when his players were not at their physical best.
“With hindsight, I should not have taken the team to Japan. But at the time I needed the matches and our players were keen to play. And the final decision to go to Japan was endorsed by the FA of Malaysia,” said Rajagobal.
“I am not shifting the blame to anyone. Yes, I wanted the matches, but it was with the good intention of seeing the team prepare for the matches ahead — Barcelona FC and the Asian Cup campaign."
But critics say Rajagobal should not have put Malaysia in such an embarrassing situation.
The knives would also have been out for Rajagobal if he had not gone to Japan. He would have been slammed for fearing mere clubs.
“As far as I am concerned, I did everything in the best interests of the team. Yes, conceding 12 goals was embarrassing, but we still learnt in the process,” remarked Rajagobal.
While there are hints the other coaches, ex-internationals and even some in the media are conspiring to get rid of him, Rajagobal stressed that there was no such move among the players.
Rajagobal said although he respected the views of the critics and the media, he had a job to do and he wanted nothing to distract him from that.

I will take the blame, says Subahan

team manager Datuk Seri Subahan Kamal will shoulder the blame for taking the team for friendly matches in Japan during the fasting month.
“If critics are looking for a scapegoat, I will take the fall. In any case, as team manager, I endorsed the trip and I take full responsibility for it, although it was a collective decision,” said vice-president of FA of Malaysia, Subahan, after the national team were roundly criticised for losing in Japan.
“As far as I am concerned, there is no issue at all in having agreed to accept the Japan FA's invitation to play their clubs or agreeing to play during the fasting month,” he added.
"Frankly, I am shocked at the criticism hurled at us for it."
Subahan said the FA of Malaysia saw the Japan FA's invitation as the start of a long-term relationship, with the latter having agreed to assist Malaysia in regaining their past glory.
“Accepting Japan’s offer was nothing to be ashamed about as they have evolved into a world-class team.
“Our losses to their club teams should be looked at as a learning curve.”
He said it was unfair to hold national coach Datuk K. Rajagobal responsible for the losses in Japan or going there during the fasting month.
“We are doing our level best to prepare the team for the Asian Cup and it is surprising that every move we make is being slammed. I wonder if there is a hidden agenda behind all the criticism.
“What I cannot understand is why the past internationals and coaches are jumping on the bandwagon when they should know better and support us.”
Subahan said neither he nor Rajagobal should be judged until after the Asian Cup is over.
“We have been given a task to complete with KPIs, so let us be judged at the end of it. If we do not meet the KPIs, we will move on. We are not here to occupy this seat forever. We are here to do a job and we are fully committed to it. And as patriots, we want to make our nation proud.”

Final respects

Final respects

Monday, August 05, 2013 - 14:18

MEMORABILIA: Chua's winning medals and photos at his home in Malacca
THE late national hockey forward Chua Boon Huat’s home in Malacca saw a steady stream of friends and past hockey players after his body was brought back from Kuala Lumpur last Friday.
Chua was killed in a car accident early Thursday morning. The 33-year-old was in training with the national team for the Asia Cup in Ipoh from Aug 24 to Sept 1.
When Mailsport visited Chua's home in Taman Semabok Perdana on Saturday, the house was full of wreaths as people kept coming to pay him their last respects.
Among those present were members of the 1975 Word Cup, including skipper Datuk N. Sri Shanmugathan, Wong Choon Chin, K. Balasingham and R. Pathmarajah.
Chua’s mother Tan Kuai Neo, despite mourning the loss of the youngest of her four children, was a picture of composure as she welcomed the visitors and thanked them for their presence.
“Boon Huat must surely be happy.
All his friends have been coming to see him and console me since Thursday.
Although I was distraught, I noticed the big crowd at the hospital,” said the 64-year-old.
“I am sad that I have lost Boon Huat, but I am happy that he had touched so many lives.”
In memory of Chua, a table with all the medals he had won since he made his international debut at the 1998 Commonwealth Games as a 17-year-old was placed close to the coffin.
The funeral proceedings begin at 11am. The national hockey players will be the coffin bearers and form a guard of honour when the coffin, draped in the Malaysian flag, is taken to the hearse to proceed to the Malacca Memorial Park Crematorium at the Jelutong Chinese Cemetery in Gajah Berang.
The cortege will leave Chua’s residence at 9 Jalan SP9, Taman Semabok Perdana in the afternoon once the final rites are concluded.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Farewell, Apek


Friday, August 02, 2013 - 11:50

Logan Raj
FORMER hockey international K. Logan Raj, reminisces his playing days with the "inspirational, outstanding" warrior Chua Boon Huat.
HEY Sauerkraut!”, Chua Boon Huat calls out to the German junior team captain, Timo Wess. “I’ll score one goal. You best mark me tightly!”
“Not while I am on the field!,” came Wess’ reply, his German accent thicker than Tom Selleck’s moustache.
We were playing Germany in the Four-Nation invitational tournament in Poznan, Poland in 2000. Malaysia was trailing four goals to nothing with barely 10 minutes left to lay.
The Germans were running circles around us and we were tired to the bone. We kept the game as simple and direct as possible knowing full well the main intention was to keep the score down.
We collectively agreed there was no need to expose ourselves further. The scoreline completely reflected the disparity in standards. We knew we were playing against a team of superior calibre. Everyone gave up and decided to play safe. Well, everyone except for my captain, Chua.
He was running all over the field, zipping from one end to the other, imposing his huge frame against the equally buff Germans. He played as if the score didn’t matter. He wanted the Germans to know that Malaysians were never, and will never be afraid of them.
We had a free hit at the top of the circle. He walked past me and said: “I am going to get a goal now. You just get the ball past the first defender. It will be a goal.”
It wasn’t a thought or a half-baked promise. It was a declaration. Resolute and concrete. I nodded and conveyed the instruction to my teammate who was about to take the hit.
Wess stood beside Chua. There clearly was some banter between the both of them. Chua was effectively riling the German skipper up. A fierce shot was unleashed into the D, right past the first defender. Chua shrugged Wess aside and deflected the ball between the German goalkeeper’s legs. The umpire whistled to indicate a goal was scored for Malaysia. Wess shook his head dejectedly. Chua was all smiles, completely oblivious that we were still losing.
I congratulated Chua and asked him why was this goal so important as we headed back to our half. He said: “When I play a game, I must leave a mark. So people will know I was here and that I made a difference.”
Chua passed away yesterday in a tragic accident. While the nation mourns the loss of an amazing player - who gave his all on the field - I reminisce in the joy and colour he brought to the people closest to him.
He played the game of life and left a huge indelible mark. His presence inspired many and his loss will certainly be one of the greatest.

'We will live the dream for you'


National squad pledges to qualify for World Cup
Friday, August 02, 2013 - 12:24 - The Malay Mail

CHUA: His experience will be greatly missed by the national team
WINNING the Asia Cup this month and qualifying for the World Cup in Holland next year is the only way the national hockey team deems fit to pay tribute to teammate Chua Boon Huat who died in a car accident yesterday morning.
National team manager George Koshy, still in shock over the demise of the player, said members of the team could not believe that he was gone.
"All the players were at the hospital by 7am and stayed on until the hearse left for Malacca in the afternoon. All of them were very upset. The least we can do for Chua, who was looking forward to the Asia Cup, is to fulfil his dream to qualify for the World Cup," said Koshy.
"We are most going to miss Chua because since his return to the national team, he had become an integral part of the team. He played a strong leadership role in the team and his experience will be greatly missed.
"Chua was a big motivator for the young players and has left a vacuum in the team. And as much as we want to change things, we can't."
Koshy said that two weeks ago, Chua had tattooed the team's motto, 'Living the dream', on his hand and he was determined to win the Asia Cup.
Yesterday, Mailsport carried an article describing how bullish Chua was about winning the Asia Cup.
As Koshy put it: "We now have to live the dream for Chua."

Millions of ringgit down the drain?


Friday, August 02, 2013 - 12:11  The Malay Mail

tony mariadass
STATISTICS on the number of continents, countries and foreign players that have graced the Malaysian football league since it went semi-pro in 1989 are mind-boggling.
The question is, how much has the foreign legion contributed to Malaysian football thus far?
There were two occasions when foreign players were barred from the Malaysian league — first in 1999 but the ban was lifted three years later, and again in 2009, but foreigners were allowed to come in again this year.
During the ban, a bigger pool of calibre local players were available for the national team and Malaysia’s ranking in 2002, before foreign players were readmitted, was 128. And in 2009, it was 160.
Here are some facts on foreign players in the Malaysian League:
  • They came from six confederations. Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), Confederation of African Football (CAF), Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF), South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL), Oceania (OFC) and Asian Football Confederation (AFC).
  • They came from 71 countries (Europe . 22; Africa . 22; CONCACAF . 5; South America. 5, Oceania . 5 and Asia . 15).
  • A total of 406 foreigners have played here since 1989 Now the billion-ringgit question:
  • How much has been spent on these foreign players over the years? A billion ringgit?
  • Were those who played for Malaysian teams all of top quality or were the teams shortchanged?
  • Did these players help raise Malaysian football standards?
  • If they did, why is Malaysia ranked 159 now?
  • Other than playing for the teams, were the foreigners used for coaching clinics or any promotional events by the teams?
My question is, wouldn’t the money spent on foreign players been better used if it had been channelled into development programmes? This would have defi nitely raised the standard of local football and produced a better supply of quality players for the national team.
Yes, we had seen some notable names play in Malaysia like Juan Manuel Arostegui (Argentina), Laszlo Repasi (Hungary), Merzagua Abderrazak (Morocco), Emile M’Bouh M’bouh (Cameroon), Stephen Keshi (Nigeria), Karel Stromisk (Czech Republic), Tony Cottee and David Rocastle (England), Alistair Edwards, Abass Saad and Scott Ollrenshaw (Australia), Fandi Ahmad, K. Kannan, T. Padmanathan, R. Suriamurthi and Malek Awab (Singapore), Piyapong Pue-on (Thailand), Anto Grabo and Zoran Nikolic (Serbia) and Philimon Chipeta (Zambia).
But the majority of the foreign players just made up the numbers and at times were no better than the local players. Foreign players have also misbehaved in Malaysia while there have been cases of teams not paying them or fulfi lling the terms of their contracts. Such negative publicity has not done Malaysian football any good.
Despite all the criteria set by the FA of Malaysia on hiring foreigners, we still get half-baked players and keep hearing of state FAs and clubs picking the wrong players only to dismiss them.
At the end of the day, the loser is Malaysian football.
Just look at our current national team. The local players are earning high wages but the quality of their game is far from satisfactory. The foreign players do not seem to have helped our local players improve despite playing alongside them in the M League. Most of the local players still lack the basics of the game.
With the foreigners playing in key positions in the teams — especially strike-force — it is no wonder that the national team lacks quality strikers.
In fact, the general standard of our national team is below par.
National coach Datuk K. Rajagobal has come under fire for the national team’s poor performance lately, but though he is doing his best to raise the standard of the game, there is only so much he can do.
The world’s best coaches cannot turn the present national team into world beaters overnight because they lack quality. This is the sad truth, but many will not accept it.
Malaysian football has to clean house and start from the base with long-term plans if it desires to move up the ranks — but not by playing ‘A’ international matches which will only see them sink further.
The sooner we accept the reality and see a concerted effort by the clubs, state FAs and the national body the better. Maybe, we will see light at the end of the tunnel.
Otherwise, we will continue to spend huge sums of money on trying to put Malaysian football on the right path but see no returns.
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

State associations must play bigger role


Wednesday, July 31, 2013 - 15:26

KOK CHI: Empower and assist the state bodies
NATIONAL sports associations should empower and assist the state bodies in order for sporting standards to improve in the country.
Datuk Sieh Kok Chi, honorary secretary of the Olympic Council of Malaysia, strongly feels that the state associations have become weak and do not contribute much to the development of their respective sport.
“The strength of any national body is their affiliates — the state associations. But of late, the majority of state associations have just been making up the numbers,” the veteran sports official points out.
“National bodies concentrate on their own associations, leaving the state bodies to fend for themselves. While in the past the state associations were effective, now they complain of lack of funds and facilities for them to operate efficiently.
“With the National Sports Council also doing development programmes, the state associations have been taking things easy and hardly do any work at the grassroots level.
“It is about time the national bodies paid more attention to the state associations and ensured that they conducted development programmes in accordance with the master plan.”
Kok Chi is puzzled that the state associations are protesting that they do not have the facilities to conduct such programmes because all of them have had enough of these built so that they could host the Malaysia Games, which takes place on a rotational basis.
“It is obvious that something is not right in the states that are grumbling. This is where the national bodies can speak to the respective state governments or sports councils that are in charge of the facilities to make them available.
“I was shocked when I was told that several states do not have tracks for their athletes to train on or for the associations to conduct programmes.
“The national associations must engage their affiliates and assist them wherever possible to ensure that development at the grassroots continues.”
Kok Chi also urges the state associations to be proactive and relevant instead of being satisfied with just sending athletes to the Malaysia Games or national championships.
“The state football associations seems to be the active ones, but that is mainly because of the Malaysian Football League and funding from the FA of Malaysia.
They too have to start doing more work by going to the districts and remote areas in their respective states, drawing up programmes to unearth new talent and conducting courses for coaches, referees and administrators.
“If the national associations leave their affiliates to their own devices, it is the respective sport that will be the loser.”