Friday, March 4, 2016


It is puzzling why FAM have yet to take to task SEA Games Project Under-22 coach, Frank Bernhardt, for announcing that he wants his former assistant, Lars Hopp, as his right-hand man.
Previously, Malaysian coaches B. Satianathan and Datuk K. Rajagobal were hauled up under the infamous FAM Rule 88, which says coaches cannot make public statements without the national body’s approval.
Satianathan had caused a stir in FAM when he proclaimed that ‘M-League is not football’ while Rajagopal almost got himself into trouble for lamenting about the lack of local strikers in the M-League following a 4-1 defeat to Saudi Arabia in friendly match. 
Last week, Bernhardt went on local television, without the knowledge of FAM, to announce that he wanted Hopp, a German, to be the assistant coach.
Earlier, he had stalled on picking a local assistant coach from four names – P. Maniam, Reduan Abdullah, Azlan Johar and Hassan Sazali Waras – before former Harimau Muda C coach Aminuddin Hussin was appointed as assistant coach.
Besides Aminuddin, former Penang and national goalkeeper Megat Amir Faisal was also appointed goalkeeper’s coach to assist Bernhardt.
These appointments were announced by the National Sports Council (NSC), which is financing the Under-22 team’s preparations for the KL SEA Games.
So, why have FAM allowed Bernhardt to undermine the association's authority? Is it because he is a foreigner?
After all, FAM must have clearly spelt out Bernhardt’s terms and conditions of employment, which surely include the clause that he must work with local coaches.
Bernhardt should have been hauled over the coals by now for his obvious reluctance to work with local coaches. Besides, there is surely no allocation for a foreign assistant coach for the Under-22 team and for Bernhardt to ask for one is unprofessional.
In fact, his appointment as chief coach was questioned from the very beginning when he was selected over former Philippines coach Michael Weiss and Malaysian coach Ong Kim Swee, who was the previous Under-23 coach.

Did FAM and NSC make the wrong choice in picking Bernhardt from the 70-odd coaches who had applied?
When the selection panel took into consideration his affordability and his familiarity with Malaysian football, they were already compromising on quality.
As a player, Bernhardt rose no higher than the third tier in Germany before back surgery ended his career. Coaching gave him a second chance in football and after working with the youth sides at FC St Pauli for six years, he faced a choice between leading a fourth division outfit in Germany or moving to Estonia.
Bernhardt went on to coach the Estonian Under-19 team and is credited with guiding the squad to the UEFA Under-19 Championship in 2009 and 2011. He joined the Estonian set-up in 2007 and served as Under-21 coach before leaving in 2012.
Even Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin has suggested that Bernhardt pick a local assistant coach for the 2017 SEA Games. He wants a discussion to be held with Bernhardt on the requirements for the SEA Games squad and that the coach understands and focuses on his tasks of selecting players for the squad.
Khairy has also underlined that a local assistant coach is sufficient.
We welcome coaches of high calibre to come to our shores to help Malaysian sports move to the next level in the international arena. But we certainly do not need coaches who come here and want to bring their bandwagon of friends and acquaintances to enjoy the perks of being a foreign coach – which Malaysians are very generous with compared with when it comes to the local coaches.
We have had many foreign coaches land here with minimum qualifications – some even got their coaching badges here – and make Malaysia their home because of the luxurious life offered to them.
We must put a stop to this and hire only reputable coaches, even if it means paying them big bucks. When we become stingy with pay, we will be losing out on quality and sports in the country will be short-changed.
Why don't we use the huge sums being paid to these half-baked foreign coaches to send local coaches for overseas stints or coaching programmes instead? We should be promoting our own coaches.
We have well-qualified coaches in many sports but they are usually overlooked or not given the exposure to become top coaches.
We already have M. Mahendran, Arul Selvaraj, Updesh Singh, Kevin Nunis, Lim Chiow Chuan, Sarjit Singh, Lawrence van Huizen, K.T. Rajan, K. Embaraj (hockey), Arul Suppiah and Suhan Alagaratnam (cricket), Datuk M. Karathu, Ifran Bakti, Lim Teong Kim (football) and Tan Kim Her, Yeoh Kay Bin, Anita Raj Kuar (badminton), to name but a few, who have coached or are coaching overseas. 
Let us get rid of the mentality that anything foreign is good. Malaysia has excelled in many fields internationally, so let sports put it on the map too. 
TONY is a sports
journalist with more than
three decades of experience
and is passionate about
local sports.
He can be reached at
Twitter: @tmariadass​​​


Steve Prat said...


First of all can I say I enjoy reading your views on local sport and as an Ex Pat, a qualified hockey, umpires coach and administrator living in Malaysia I share some of your views , not all, about the hiring of foreign coaches here .
Can I agree that not everything foreign is good . On another subject if you attend a concert by the Malaysian Philamonic shut your eyes you will hear a world class orchestra.

Frank Bernhardt should know better in speaking to the press here however in the West when you hire a coach you give him the authority to do the job (Would you tell Sir Alex who he can have as a No2 ?at Manchester United) . Overseas is different when you take employment overseas all coaches have to respect local culture, traditions etc accept that it’s not the same as the west.
In my opinion that's why some of us have failed. Tried hard and gone home.
Can’t see the objection to work with local coach , objectives well learn from each other especially the culture and tradition , he possibly like you said wants his friend to come here on a tourist holiday

His qualifications should not be in question, he should I am sure hold the UEFA A and B licence, he can’t coach anywhere without them.

As long as he can install the coaching objective to motivate and develop players using both practical and management skills and long as they work it will keep everyone happy. However as a personal opinion he will not last.


Steve Prat said...

Your comment "half baked " every coach has something to offer . Malaysia is obsessed with qualifications I am afraid at this moment of time the country will not attract the more well-known due to failure to qualify for world competitions hence let’s say the less experienced come here to "cut their teeth " then go ?
Wrong really but that's life. Mid 80’s Glenn Hoddle well known soccer player came to Swindon Town in the UK.
No previous coaching experience, got coaching badges, first job won promotion to now the Premier League.
Then left for more money, done nothing else since but a very nice guy , I have had the pleasure to meet him.

You have stated and I agree with you Malaysia should have high calibre coaches but I am afraid I cannot see the calibre of (hockey ) Regeriri Argentina , Crutchley England , Charlesworth Australia (Cricket )
Giles and Liam Smith the successful GB Davis Cup Captain coming here?
The reason is the way they could be treated.
Personal experience - I was invited two years ago to umpire a Under 16 hockey tournament in Ipoh by Armarjit Singh and his committee . Half way through the day another committee member approached me and said "Why don't you go home you F…….king white man, if you want to umpire go back to your own F¬¬…king county . What do you think the impression I had formed? Lucky my hosts supported me and apoligised which was accepted.
I know a similar situation involving another coach here different situation who left. He is rated top 5 in the world you did comment on the time he left. Can I say I decided to retire and withdraw my services after that and one or two other little issues.
I only can speak for hockey, you have one or two excellent coaches here Arul who has coached in Ireland and England with Telford Hockey club as well, respected Stephen Van Huizen who is not only a good coach but gentlemen on and off the pitch. Other coaches I am afraid they need to learn courtesy and diplomacy. They really need to exposure the coaches.
I blame the FIH for that however I am most surprised with Arul’s experience with overseas coaching the MHC did not attempt to keep him and offer a more motivated role.

Forty years ago I was a serving Officer in the Royal Air Force and together with my colleagues both played with locals playing and officiated.
In the local leagues we worked hand in hand with local members fostering friendship and trying to assist in improving the game. Sad to say you won’t find it know. We are not welcome. For myself I have been regrettably pushed out and I worked PRO BONO
Sadly I will be leaving Malaysian with new wife Erica for retirement in Manila but of course I wish the future of Malaysia sports will improve

Best Regards