Friday, April 22, 2016

Let football brains manage the teams


With Malaysian football at its lowest ebb, it is the best time to make a major change of who should be involved in the management of teams.
While an open debate between the Regent of Johor, Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim ­– who is also the owner of Johor Darul Ta’zim ­– and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin is the hot topic currently, the big picture must be viewed.
Debates may see many ugly matters surface as each party will want to emerge the winner, but what happens at the end of the debate will be what matters.
If the debate is just for the sake of arguing, it is not going to serve any purpose. To implement the good things that come out of the debate will be a challenge.
Even if Tunku Ismail becomes the new FAM head, as suggested, not much will get done because it is the state FAs that actually chart the direction of football in the country.
As long as the mindset of the state FAs remains the same, the best of the plans proposed by the national body is going to be derailed, as is the case now.
It is for this reason that there needs to be a revamp at the state and club levels, both management and coaches.
It is not rocket science that football should be run by football brains.
Ajax Amsterdam’s assistant team manager Dennis Bergkamp told the Daily Mail this week that more clubs should follow the Dutch club’s model of promoting players to executive roles.
“The best directors are the ones who had worked on the factory floor. The ones who make the decisions should be the people who know what’s really happening and how it impacts down below,” he said.
Dutch great Johan Cruyff, who died last month aged 68, was instrumental in putting that sort of system in place at the Amsterdam club he played for with such distinction.
Former Ajax defender Frank de Boer is the current manager and along with Bergkamp is assisted by another retired centreback, Jamp Stm, while ex-winger Marcs Overmars is director of football.
Former goalkeeper Edwin van Sar works on the commercial side as marketing director.
While we already have seen the likes of Zainal Abidin Hassan, Datuk Jamal Nasir and currently James Wong and Hassan Sani, to name but a few, involved in managerial duties, the question to ask is, was total say in managing the team accorded to them? Or are they just be ‘puppet managers’ with the strings being pulled by top officials who have no clue about the game?
And then, the question is whether we have quality former players to manage the teams?
Maybe apart from coaching courses, former players should take recognised administrative and managerial courses as well.
It will definitely be good to start somewhere and get more ex-internationals and state players with long service involved in the management of the state or club teams at administrative level.
Many state FAs are still managed by people who have not even played football. Passion for the game alone is not enough. They have to be professionals with knowledge of the game.
Attending a once-a-year, one-day administrative course does not make one an expert in the management of football.
Football is a business now and it needs to be run like a corporation with all the right people with the right qualifications at the various posts of the football organisation.
The game has evolved at a tremendous speed, both on the field and in its management, and we have to keep up.
Whatever decision is taken to elevate Malaysian football should be holistic. Everyone must get it that nothing is going to improve in Malaysian football overnight because the problems have grown roots. Our only hope is a complete revamp with a proper long-term programme with grassroots emphasis. And that too with total dedication.
Otherwise, we could have a hundred debates and find no answers to our football woes.

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​

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