Friday, May 30, 2014

Stop hailing second best performances

Friday, May 30, 2014 - The Malay Mail
Malaysian pair Tan Boon Heong (right) and Hoon Thien How in action against Hiroyuki Endo and Kenichi Hayakawa of Japan during the Thomas Cup final at Siri Fort Stadium in New Delhi, May 25, 2014. — Picture by AFP


STARVED of success, we celebrate even second-rate performances.
This was clearly the case early this week when the whole nation was talking about how close Malaysia was to lifting the Thomas Cup in New Delhi after twenty-two long years.
Despite an earlier target of reaching the semi-finals, reality was thrown out the window when even the severest critics started to hope Malaysia would beat Japan.
But the fact remains that we did not have a formidable line-up and had agonised over the final squad until the eleventh hour. And we had to rely on makeshift partnerships, hoping the players would rise to the occasion. Sure, it was a golden opportunity to win because it was only Japan, who were making their first appearance in a final.
And although Malaysia fought hard, they lost, and to Japan.
But everybody is full of sympathy, praising the fighting quality of the players with radio stations even dedicating programmes to them.
I personally feel we went overboard, as usual, despite having lost. Let us hope no reward is given to the players for having finished runners-up. That would indeed be a joke.
The fact remains that Malaysia lost to Japan, never mind that they had disposed of five-time consecutive winners China 3-0 in the semi-finals.
It is worth noting that Japan did not become the champions by chance. South Korea’s Park Joobong has been coaching them since 2005 and clearly invested a lot of hard work and time in the team.
Success does not come overnight.
Park was in the coaching setup when Malaysia last made their Thomas Cup final in Guangzhou in 2002, but he did not stay long enough to make his mark.
Coming back to Malaysia, are all the accolades showered on our players going to do the game any good? If at all, it will go to show that Malaysians will accept even second best.
It may sound cruel to criticise a team who fought hard, but as I have always maintained, one has to be cruel to be kind.
We cannot be forgiving if we want world beaters. We cannot forever be giving excuses for our defeats.
We just have to be the best to achieve honour and this is going to require proper planning, time, dedication from the players and above all, the passion and desire to reach the highest level of excellence.
We need a pool of players who are all almost of the same standard and not depend on one or two players to carry the team.
Strip out the politics from sports and have fair selections to see the best players being picked to represent the country. Officials should just stick to their appointed roles and excess baggage in the association and team must be sliced off. The bottom line? Manage the team professionally, and we will have a real chance at becoming champions.
Just look at the ongoing Malaysia Games. There are rewards for achievements by young athletes at the lowest level of competition in the country. So you can guess what kind of athletes we are breeding.
By paying out hundreds of thousands ringgit as rewards, the authorities will make these athletes lose sight of patriotism to the country and their pursuit of excellence in their sport. Indeed, they will become materialistic.
“Sacrifice” is a foreign word to these young athletes. So, can we expect them to fight for the nation in a time of need? Malaysia has to change its mentality towards high-performance sports if we are to become champions in the international field.
It is not going to happen overnight as many will not be prepared to give up the comforts of life to work hard for success.
However, it is easier said than done.

• Deepest sympathy and heartfelt condolences to the Perak royal family on the demise of the Sultan of Perak Sultan Azlan Shah on Wednesday.
The late Sultan of Perak, the former Malaysian Hockey Federation (then) president and incumbent president of the Asian Hockey Federation, will always be remembered fondly for his contribution to the game both in Malaysia and Asia.
In fact, Tuanku was a wellknown figure in the world of hockey, where he was held in high esteem and respect for his passion for the game.
May his soul rest in peace.

TONY MARIADASS is a sports
journalist with more than
three decades of experience
and is passionate about local
sports. He can be reached
Twitter handle: @tmariadass

Monday, May 26, 2014

Joo Pong slowing down the years

Published on Saturday The Malay Mail
Monday, May 26, 2014
Joo Pong (left) and Joo Ngan pose with an assortment of trophies and medals garnered from their cycling successes

NG Joo Pong, in his heyday, was a bicycle terror who gave his rivals no quarter.
Today, he drives a taxi at a slow pace, hoping for passengers to wave him down.
Age, no doubt, has slowed him down considerably. And for someone who had represented Malaya in two Olympics – Tokyo 1964 and Mexico City 1968 – the downturn in fortunes had been inconceivable.
Apart from driving the taxi part-time, Joo Pong is also a contract lorry salesman.
To those who don’t know, Joo Pong was a pioneering national cyclist in the 1960s and was the first Malaysian to win a medal at the inaugural Asian cycling championships held at Merdeka Stadium in 1963.
Joo Pong, who turns 68 on June 19, won the bronze medal in the 1,000m individual road time trial in his first international meet when he was only 17.
The event was won by Thailand’s Taworn Jirapan ahead of Japan’s Masahi Omiya.
The Kuala Lumpur-born rider went on to win a gold medal in the four-man team 1,600m grass track team trial event at Merdeka Stadium. The quartet, comprising Joo Pong, Conrad Talalla, the late Andrew Michael and the late Jallaludin Yusof, finished in a time of 2:28.1.
Joo Pong, to the uninitiated, is the older brother of another cycling icon, Datuk Ng Joo Ngan.
Joo Pong (right) at the 1960 Tokyo Olympics
Joo Ngan is considered the most successful cyclist in Malaysian history, having won the most competitions and at the Asian Games.
But it was Joo Pong who started cycling first in the family and influenced his younger brother to take up the sport.
He retired from the sport after competing in his second consecutive Asian Games in Bangkok in 1970, where both he and Joo Ngan had competed.
After Joo Pong's retirement, his younger brother made his mark in cycling and became a household name.
“I was not athletic and did not like walking when I was young. I was helping my family business, which supplied well water to a village at 4th mile, Old Klang Road,” recalled Joo Pong.
“I was put in charge of the pump for the well, which supplied water to each household in the village from 6am to 6pm for RM6 a month. Each time it rained, I had to switch off the pump in case it got struck by lightning.
“We stayed some distance from the well and village, so to reach the well fast, I would take my father’s bicycle without his knowledge. I used to get a beating for using it and for the many falls I had. But that did not stop me from using the bicycle.”
Joo Pong then urged his parents to buy him a bicycle to go to school in Brickfields, but they refused.
He finally got his first bicycle when he was 12.
“I was presented with a China model, which cost RM75 at the time, for selling the most number of booklets for a Christmas lucky draw in La Salle Brickfields.
The funds were collected for renovations to St John’s Institution in 1959. I sold 60 booklets at RM5 each,” said Joo Pong.
“I then started to cycle everywhere and competed in my first competition in 1960 at my school meet (private school St Anthony) and won the 15-mile race from my school to Sungai Way and back."
Joo Pong had to attend a private school because he did not do well in Bahasa Malaysia in his Standard Six examination.
“I probably did not do well in my exams because I spent too much time selling the raffle tickets,” he laughed.
“Then I used to train in Jalan Duta and met some national cyclists, including N. Rosli, who urged me to compete in a road race. I trained, competed and beat all of them!”
Joo Pong competed in many road and track competitions before taking part in trials for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. The trials were over four days from Alor Star to Johor Baru. He made it to the podium in four consecutive legs out of six to earn his Olympic ticket.
Joo Pong said the Olympics were a different kettle of fish with the latest racing bicycles and velodromes, sophisticated equipment and experienced cyclists. He returned richer in experience and exposure.
Joo Pong with Nazri after getting his taxi licence

He had gone to Tokyo with a bicycle his father Swee Long and mother had bought for RM270 from Robinsons Store.
In 1967, Joo Pong suffered a nasty road accident when training alone. He was cycling to Klang when a lorry he was following braked suddenly.
He rammed into it, breaking his jaw and suffering injuries that landed him in hospital for three months.
Once recovered, he started to race and win again, but the accident had taken a toll on him. He wanted to skip the 1970 Asian Games, but decided to keep Joo Ngan company and worked hard to qualify.
“Cyclists these days are very lucky because everything is taken care of, from equipment, coaching, training stints, allowance and handsome rewards. But their results leave much to be desired.
“In fact, our performance in the Asian championships is still standing. We competed for the love of the sport,” said Joo Pong, whose 31-year-old son is an IT programmer.
Upon retiring, Joo Pong became an insurance salesman. He and his brother applied for taxi licences in the 1970s, but Joo Pong only got his after a 30-year wait. And that too thanks to the then Public Enterprises Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz, who had read about Joo Pong’s plight in an article by M. Veera Pandiyan in his column Along the Watchtower.
“I am indebted to the reporter and Datuk Seri Nazri for assisting me,” said Joo Pong, who is driving his second taxi after his first was involved in an accident and became a write-off.
“I wrote a letter to Datuk Seri Nazri after learning that he loves sports and at the insistence of the reporter.
“I was a sports enthusiast, so I know of Joo Pong and his brother's exploits in cycling. They made us proud,” Nazri said when he finally met Joo Pong in 2012.
“When I saw a letter from him over 10 years ago asking for a permit, I didn't even have to interview him.”
Asked if his passengers recognise him or even remember his name displayed on the taxi, he replied: “This is a totally different generation.
 They are too young to remember me.”
Today, Joo Pong, without fail, still cycles three times a week for an hour at least before he takes his taxi out from 6am to 7am. He then goes on his calls to sell lorries. He drives the taxi again for another two hours in the evening around Shah Alam, where he lives.
During weekends, he would drive his taxi for a few extra hours.
Asked if his back and knee hurt when driving the taxi, he said: “I stopped cycling for ten years and suffered from all sorts of aliments. I got back to cycling and I am much healthier and the pain is much less.
“I will be cycling till my dying day. It is my first love.”

Friday, May 23, 2014

Let the Games begin on the right note

Friday, May 23, 2014 - Malay Mail
THE 17th Malaysia Games (Sukma) starts in Perlis tomorrow, but there are signs all is not well.
One would expect the organisers to have everything under control, but there are unresolved issues.
Yes, Perlis are hosting it for the first time and the National Sports Council (NSC) should ensure everything runs smoothly.
NSC, as the manager of the Games, collaborates with the State Sports Council, the Olympic Council of Malaysia, the sports Ministry and the Sports Commissioner’s office on this.
The Malaysia Games began in 1986 in Kuala Lumpur. They were first held biennially but has become an annual affair since 2012.
It’s an arena for young people to parade their talent, for states to showcase their athletes and a yardstick to measure the athletes’ progress through development programmes.
Khairy visiting the aquatics centre in Perlis recently and is confident it will be ready before the Games. — Filepic

The Games also provide the hosting states a chance to equip themselves with or upgrade sporting facilities and an opportunity for state officials to gain valuable experience in organising something of that stature.
But there are negative aspects to the Games as well. Each year, the same problems crop up, including the pinching of athletes from other states, poor management of certain sports, sponsorship wrangles, violence or boycotts when not satisfied with the results and using money to ‘bribe’ young athletes to win medals.
But above all, the Games are a hunting ground for contractors because new facilities have to be built or upgraded. While in the past such work was handled by the Public Works Department, these days it is tendered to private contractors. And not all of them have delivered on their promise.
The aquatics and badminton stadiums at the Kangar Sports Complex were supposed to have been ready last Thursday, but checks revealed neither were.
Perlis Menteri Besar Azlan Man and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin then said the stadiums will be ready before the Games begin.
The question is, would there be enough time to get the Certificate of Fitness? While all indications are that badminton will be held at the chosen venue, aquatics may be held in Alor Star, Kedah.
Leaving such a key decision to the last minute does not augur well for the reputation of the Games and would be unfair to the swimmers.
Then there are the rewards awaiting the winners. Is encouraging them to perform for money the right culture to instil in them at such a young age? What about pride and honour?
I am not against rewarding athletes, but aren’t scholarships, sporting equipment, better coaches, career development opportunities and placing monetary rewards in trust funds better options?
For the record, some of the states are offering RM6,000 for a gold medal, RM5,000 for silver and RM2,000 for bronze.
The Games have so far been dominated by four states — Selangor, which have won eight overall titles, defending champion Terengganu (four), Sarawak (three), and Kuala Lumpur (one).
It would be good to see other states being more competitive but that may not happen overnight. There must be emphasis on development programmes throughout the year, not just before the Games.
Let’s just hope that at the end of this outing in Perlis, there will be more reasons to cheer than complain.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

'Ironman' Jayan never said never

Published on Saturday 17th May, 2014
The Malay Mail
J.V. JAYAN put fear in his rivals and charges as an athlete and coach. Today, he has mellowed to the extent that not many would recognise him.
The 68-year-old, known as the "ironman” of Malaysian athletics for his decathlon prowess in the mid-60's and early 70's after dethroning his established nemesis Ahmad Mahmud, was also a former Malaysian rugby player.
After he retired from competition, he had an equally colourful career as a national coach.
Jayan was born in Kluang, Johor, but he and his brother received their early education at King George V in Seremban.
Coming from a family where sport was part of their lives, it was not surprising he had an inclination not only in athletics but in several sports, too.
His father N.J. Pillai was a chief clerk in the Malaysian TCRE army. Pillai made sure his two sons embraced sports. and encouraged them to participate in football, hockey and badminton to give them a good grounding to improve their speed, skill, agility, endurance and teamwork skills — the basic ingredients for any sportsman to excel.
Jayan’s late elder brother, Richard Nathan, passed away early this year at the age of 71. Richard was a former Director of Prisons at Henry Gurney School in Malacca. He was a former national triple jumper, winning the bronze medal at the 1969 Seap Games in Rangoon (now Yangon).
As a decathlete, Jayan was a fierce competitor
Jayan’s athletic potential was discovered by a school teacher, Edwin Abraham, who was a former state high jumper and 110m hurdles champion.
An athletics club — Harimau — was formed by Edwin and fellow teacher Sidney Ananda, and through their guidance, the club produced many talented athletes like Jayan, Datuk Zainal Abidin (Malaysian Athletics Federation president), Syed Omar, Zambrose Abdul Rahman, Shazan Amir, K. Nadarajah, A. Ramasamy and Harginder Singh, many of whom went on to represent the country.
Jayan’s promising athletic career was recognised by the National Electricity Board (NEB) who recruited him, after realising his potential to bring fame and honour.
The multi-talented Jayan represented his club and state in the mid-60’s and early 70’s and became a household name among sports fans in Negri Sembilan.
In badminton, he was the third singles player in the state team, for whom the late Datuk Punch Gunalan, another who hailed from Negri, was first singles.
However, it was in athletics that Jayan excelled by dominating in the gruelling decathlon — a 10-event discipline that demands mental strength, stamina, speed, power, endurance and determination.
He went on to win the 400m hurdles (1972, 1975, 1976) and the decathlon (1967, 1968, 1969, 1970 and 1977) in the national athletics championships.
Jayan moved up the ladder in athletics when he represented the country in the Seap Games, winning silver medals in three consecutive Games — 1967 (Bangkok), 1969 (Rangoon) and 1971 (Kuala Lumpur).
In 1973 in Singapore, he struck gold by breaking the Seap Games record, collecting 6,237 points to beat the pre-Games favourite, Singapore's Tang Ngai Kin, who obtained 6,044 points.
Upon his retirement from athletics in 1977, Jayan became Negri Sembilan chief athletics coach and later as chief coach with the Malaysian Amateur Athletics Federation from 1989 to 1994.
He was also MAAU's coaching chairman from 1995 to 2006.
Currently a coaching advisor with Negri Sembilan AAA.
As coach, Jayan produced national and six-time Sea Games champion 110m hurdles champion Nur Herman Majid, Sea Games 400m hurdles silver and 4x400m gold medallist Kenny Martin, Sea Games 400m hurdler Rathimalar, Sea Games 800m silver medallist R. Vasu and Sea Games 800m and 1,500m gold and silver medallist R. Thangavelu.
He retired from Tenaga Nasional Bhd (formerly NEB) as a senior meter reader but continued his passion for coaching at grassroots level and serving as development chairman for NSAAA till last year.
Today, he is a coaching advisor for NSAAA.
“Sports has given me the opportunity to test myself mentally, physically and emotionally in a way no other aspects of life can. The best feeling in the world is walking into an athletic atmosphere,” said Jayan.
His secret to staying at the top in his athletics career was simple. “I was always someone who wanted to do better than others. I loved competition," he said.
Edwin remembers Jayan as someone who never gave up.
“Athletes were scared to compete against Jayan for he was a fi erce competitor and always gave his best during training or competition," said Edwin.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Time for hands-on officials

Friday, May 16, 2014 - Malay Mail

IT is time officer bearers of national organisations made their way to the states to see for themselves what is happening, rather than sit at meeting tables at the headquarters.
It is even time for the Sports Commissioner to ask national bodies to amend their constitution requiring office bearers to visit the states during their term or at least have their monthly or bi-monthly exco meetings at the states.
For far too long, national bodies have relied on reports from their respective committee chairmen to act on complaints from their affiliates.
Yes, exco members also comprise affiliate members, but the voice of one or two persons at a meeting is not going to be heard, especially where their state affairs are concerned.
Take the May 5 match between Johor Darul Takzim (JDT) and Pahang at Larkin Stadium as an example. There were plenty of reports of “incidents” between the fans, but in reality, nothing happened.
FA of Malaysia (FAM) will rely on match commissioner Lt Kol (rtd) Kamaruddin Sakhari’s report, but what can he say about what happened outside the stadium?
If FAM had sent their disciplinary, competitions or security committee members to the match, they would have a better picture of what transpired.
And by having their exco meetings in the various states, FAM will be able to gauge what’s happening for themselves.
This will also build better relationships between them and the state FAs. Maybe FAM should start today. Send some of their top-ranked officials to the M-League match between JDT and Pahang at Larkin Stadium.
These officials can see for themselves how well things are organised in Johor and if for any reason there is trouble, at least FAM will get first-hand information.
They will also know whether newspaper reports were accurate or sensationalised.
Of course, many of the officials would prefer to be in the city at the leading hotels entertaining other officials or being entertained as the campaigning for votes for next week’s FAM congress-cum-election goes into full swing.
Attention should also be given to Sabah and Sarawak where the future of Malaysian sports may lie.
Just listen to the grumblings at the end of the National Schools Sports Council Track and Field championship in Kedah last week, which underline how the foundations laid by the school coaches are not being built on by the national body. Sarawak emerged overall champion for the fifth consecutive year, winning 17 of the 91 gold medals.
This success did not come overnight. It was through sheer hard and dedicated work over the years.
Sarawak have 300 dedicated athletics coaches in the schools in their 11 divisions who work round the year.
They are fair in their selections and training with everyone given a chance to prove their worth.
Sarawak schools athletics technical chairman Ting Siew Nguong had said that while other states only rely on their annual state-level schools track and field meets to select their best, Sarawak hold an additional meet towards the end of the year to give them more time to identify and prepare the athletes.
So, what happens to these athletes after school? The state sports councils, the state athletics association and the national body are supposed to take over.
Does this happen? Sadly no, and many potential athletes are lost.
Obviously, not enough attention is being paid to all top school athletes.
This is where the national body can play a more active and pivotal role to ensure good programmes are not wasted.
I wonder how many Malaysian Athletics Federation officials were at the recent national schools meet in Alor Star.
Until and unless the national bodies work with the state affiliates and schools, Malaysian sports will continue to be the loser!
Can the office bearers at the national bodies show more commitment to sports rather than play politics, queue up for overseas trips and collect their allowances and perks for attending meetings in Kuala Lumpur?

Friday, May 9, 2014

Media should not add fuel to fire

Friday, May 09, 2014 - Malay Mail
Johor Darul Takzim and Pahang fans pose for photographs before the first leg of the FA Cup semifinals, May 5, 2014. — Picture by Bernama


THE media are not helping by sensationalising news instead of reporting facts.
The M-League has probably gained the most following this year.
With strong fan support, there is bound to be rivalry, which sometimes continues after the game.
While several cases of fan violence have been reported this season, they have been manageable and addressed to a certain extent.
The most serious offences have been fans letting off flares and fireworks inside the stadium, which have led to fines for the state FAs involved.
Some fans can get very vocal. However, to point the finger at the fans all the time when something is not right or goes wrong, is unfair.
What happened after the FA Cup semifinal first leg between Johor Darul Takzim (JDT) and Pahang at Larkin Stadium on Monday, which ended 1-1, is a clear example of how things can be exaggerated by the media.
It had been some time since I last went to Larkin Stadium, one of the venues of the 1997 Youth World Cup.
After hearing about the extensive renovations done by Johor FA president Tunku Ismail Ibrahim, I was looking forward to visiting it. I was not disappointed. Larkin Stadium has been transformed Except for the five flights of stairs reporters have to climb to reach the media room, everything else is first class — from the pitch, electronic advertisement boards, seats with sections for sponsors and reserve bench with bucket seats to the huge number of wardens with their illuminated jackets.
The stadium is good enough for even an EPL match.
When a state FA go to so much trouble to make the game marketable, the last thing they need is bad publicity.
Yes, Johor FA have been in the limelight for the wrong reasons, but everyone deserves a chance to learn from their mistakes.
Johor fans who misbehaved have been punished. Even Tunku Ismail, who sometimes gets emotional, was magnanimous enough on Monday night to walk up to the match officials and shake their hands before leaving.
I was in the stadium more than two hours before the match and it was almost near its 30,000 capacity. There were no signs of unruly behaviour as the fans sat patiently.
During the match, the referee made some questionable decisions against both teams. The fans roared in displeasure, but refrained from throwing objects, letting off flares or harassing the assistant referee.
However, Johor FA secretary Fahmy Yahya created some tension by constantly harassing match commissioner Lt Kol (rtd) Kamaruddin Sakhari at the technical bench, while JDT coach Bojan Hodak also over-reacted, at times gesturing at the referee. I am sure the FA of Malaysia will look into this.
After the match, the fans left in an orderly fashion after singing the state anthem. There were about 1,000-odd fans outside the main entrance but they did not cause trouble. They did not block any exits and police personnel were present to ensure everything was in order.
I learnt that JDT fans had demanded an apology from the Pahang fans for an earlier incident in Kuantan, when the two teams had met, and this was duly done and everything was settled.
When the JDT team left about 11pm, the fans clapped and cheered. Traffic outside the stadium was at a standstill as the escorted JDT bus tried to inch its way out.
The police officer in charge, after consulting Pahang coach Zainal Abidin Hassan, decided the team and their supporters remain in the stadium until the traffic had cleared.
The Pahang team and supporters left at 1am without any incident. They were not locked up in the stadium. It was done through mutual consent on the advice of the police to avert any untoward incident as traffic was not moving.
I left the stadium at midnight but was still caught in the jam and it took me half an hour to reach my hotel, which was 10 minutes away.
All it would have taken to spark an incident was for one irresponsible fan to throw a stone at the Pahang team’s or supporters’ bus.
So, it was irresponsible for the media to have reported that there were incidents and fan trouble.
Pahang play JDT at Larkin Stadium on May 16 in a Super League match and on May 30 in the return leg FA Cup semifinals in Kuantan.
Hopefully, the media will stick to the facts and not add fuel to fire to create animosity.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

One too many foreigners?

From Fourfourtwo:

One too many foreigners?

Tony Mariadass ponders if the influx of foreign players into the M-League in recent years has done more harm than good...
The question has been up in the air for some time now and even the FA of Malaysia (FAM) have been fickle about foreign players, having reversed their decision several times. However, this year, when the FAM decided to allow four foreign players – of whom one had to be Asian, compared with two last year – it was a clear indication that the national body were following the wishes of most state FAs and clubs.
The biggest concern about the recruitment of foreign players has been that the best local players are being deprived of playing in their own league. This in turn is affecting the national team because many of the local players hardly see action in the M-League. Teams normally hire strikers, midfielders and a centre-backs – the backbone of a team – thus preventing local players from getting enough exposure in the key positions.
It is worth noting that the national team performed better in the international arena in the years foreign players were shut out of the M-League. And the M-League proved exciting, contrary to the general belief that only the presence of foreign players does that to the league.
Just look at the top scorers in the M-League; it is the foreign players who head the list. What does this mean for the development of our local strikers? In fact, most of the states and clubs are only interested in winning silverware and will arm themselves with foreign players to supposedly strengthen their teams. But has this been the case?
When 37 new players were signed during the April transfer window, it underlined the poor selection that was made at the start of the season. Last season, only 20 new signings were made during transfer window because the teams were limited to just two foreign players. Will the 37 new signings change the fortunes of the teams or clubs? Only time will tell.
But the indications are that only a few will shine while the rest will not be much better than their predecessors. In fact, it will not be a surprise if the local players outshone some of the foreign players.
Now the question is, how much did the state FAs spend in the April transfer window and how much compensation did they have to pay for offloading the earlier signings? Perhaps, all that money could have been spent on the development of football in the country. Certainly, the state FAs and clubs will continue to say they spent their money wisely, but all will be revealed when their bank balance comes up for review at their annual general meeting.
What will be sad is if the foreign players who were dropped mid-season sue the state FAs and clubs for breach of contract or non-payment of their salaries. Several foreign coaches too suffered the same fate as the players.
The FAM previously said they had set strict guidelines for the states and clubs on hiring foreign players, but the number let go in April does not speak well of the selection method. Only Super League teams Pahang and PKNS, and Premier League sides Felda United, Johor, Kedah, Perlis, Police and Universiti Teknologi Mara were happy with their foreign signings and did not seek replacements. Felda and Kedah each added an import while UiTM signed two more to fill vacancies in their roster because they did not use the maximum quota at the start of the season.
Perak, on the other hand, changed their entire foreign signings in a desperate bid to stave off relegation from the Super League. Really, has serious thought been given to the idea of allowing foreign players to play in the M-League? Have all other avenues to improve the league been exhausted? Are we still looking for short cuts to success?
Now, we are going to privatise the M-League next year. Are we headed for more problems or are we going to brainstorm the matter and come up with workable ideas before going ahead with it? Is it going to be another cosmetic change that is not going to benefit the overall standard of football in Malaysia? Let us not forget that the decline in Malaysian football started when it turned semi-pro in the late 1980s – when we were not fully ready for it – and then went full professional soon after.
I am putting my money on the long-term National Development Football Programme (NDFP) for the betterment of the game in this country and nurturing local footballers for the future.


Saturday, May 3, 2014