Friday, May 27, 2016

Cheap publicity stunts


High jumper Nauraj Singh Randhawa is the flavour of the month but it is sad to see how he is being manipulated by some to promote themselves, their products or their companies.
Ever since Nauraj qualified for the Rio Olympics after his winning effort of 2.29m in the Singapore Open, he has not only been bombarded with interview requests from the media but also sought by companies looking to ride his current popularity.
There is nothing wrong in wanting to back an Olympic qualifier but the manner in which everyone is queuing up to exploit him is appalling.
Companies and sports councils offering Nauraj a meagre RM2,000 and having the news highlighted in the press is certainly a cheap shot at marketing themselves.
Nauraj should vet such invitations so that he is not taken advantage of but being new to the publicity circus, and being the ‘nice guy’ he is, he is probably obliging all of them.
Maybe the Malaysian Athletic Federation (MAF) should take the lead in guiding the athlete and not jump on the bandwagon.
Genuine support for Nauraj is welcome but it should be a contribution for the long term and not a one-off pittance, like the ones he has received so far.
There were even efforts to get Nauraj to endorse equipment for a small payment but he was wise enough to decline.
It is sad that many want to be associated with a sportsman when he makes the headlines but steer clear when genuine cases require assistance, especially in grassroots development.
But then again, there are responsible corporations that emphasise sports development and come forward every time their help is sought even by the smallest club in the most remote of places, and they do it without any publicity. These are corporations that hold sports close to their heart and whose corporate social responsibilities are clearly defined.
If there are organisations or individuals who wish to back Nauraj, for starters, they could help his father, Amarjit Singh, go to Rio de Janeiro to watch his son compete.
Amarjit has not only been a source of inspiration for Nauraj but has also supported him fully with whatever means he had.
The 56-year-old is currently unemployed and maybe assisting him in finding employment would be an act of kindness.
After all, it is through the efforts of his parents, Amarjit and Manjit, that Nauraj has been able to do his nation proud. They were there to advise him when he contemplated quitting the sport after suffering a serious ankle injury, which required reconstruction of his ligaments, in 2011.
Many athletes have been exploited in the past when they were in their prime or were up-and-coming. But once their form declined or they had served their purpose, they were dumped by their supporters like a hot potato.
Just look at how many of our former sportsmen and women who brought honours to the nation have been forgotten. In their old age, many of them are struggling to make ends meet while some of them are unemployed.
When double international (cycling and walking) Rosli Abdul Kadir’s plight – he was eking out a living washing cars – was highlighted two years ago, how much of assistance was he given? Unfortunately, Rosli died in a motorcycle accident early this week. 
Even when some of these icons start grassroots programmes to give back to their sport, they get little or no support.
The National Athletes Welfare Foundation (Yakeb) is in place but whether it is doing enough is debatable. It is pointless to make contributions after an athlete dies. 
Medical insurance is available but this was recently reduced from RM5,000 per year to RM2,500 and conditions were added under which repayment for medication will only be made if it is obtained from a hospital.
Many of our ex-athletes have expressed dissatisfaction at this state of affairs. Some do not even utilise the subsidy because they cannot purchase medicine from the pharmacies and medicine is expensive at the private hospitals. And at the general hospitals, the waiting time is just too long. Moreover, many of the athletes are old and some of them are immobile.
Giving a little bit of aid when a member is in hospital and having the news splashed all over the newspapers is certainly unnecessary when Yakeb's primary function is to look after the ex-athletes. More often than not, this kind of publicity is embarrassing to the athlete on the hospital bed and certainly cheap publicity for Yakeb.
Maybe, it is about time Yakeb working in collaboration with the National Sports Council should consider a pension scheme for ex-athletes?
Yakeb’s new chairman Datuk Malek Noor, a former national bodybuilder, probably can look into making this body more relevant.
When there is so much that can be done for our present and past athletes, it is sad that many pick and choose to whom and how much they want to contribute and in the process seek publicity at the expense of the athletes.
Let’s treat our athletes with respect and dignity.

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​

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Olympician cyclist NA Rosli passes away this morning

Former Olympian cyclist NA Rosli passed away this morning after being involved in a motorcycle accident he was riding on. Deepest condolence to his family. Below is an Icon story done on him on June 14, 2014 in the Malay Mail.
Tony Mariadass's photo.

Famed cyclist Rosli washes cars in his ageing years
IN the Olympic Council of Malaysia Hall of Fame and Malaysian cycling annals, he is considered a hero and icon.
But in real life, Rosli Abdul Kadir, who turns 75 on June 21 and should be spending time leisurely enjoying the fruits of his labour, is still washing cars to earn his pocket money.
The father of eight children and 23 grandchildren, was a member of the gold medal winning team on grass at Merdeka Stadium in the 1963 Asian Championship.
A double international having represented the nation in Big Walk too, Rosli having made his debut at the 1962 Asian Games in 1962 in Jakarta, retired in 1973 after many medals and honours.
In Big Walk he had competed in the 1973 Sea Games where he finished fourth besides winning numerous walking meets in the region including The Malay Mail Big Walk where he had won the junior veterans category thrice in-a-row to keep the challenge trophy.
But the accolades and honours earned as a cyclist, was not good enough to find him a decent job to bring up his family.
Rosli had to work as a driver, odd-job worker on contract and gardener, before he decided to try his hands at car washing.
It all started about 30 years ago when he managed to get CIMB in Damansara to allow him to wash their employees’ cars in their premises.
Three months ago, he moved to the CIMB Sentral office when the Group Administration and Property manager, Mohd Khairizal Mohd Khalib, allowed Rosli to continue to wash cars at their new premises.
Armed with motorcycle which has a specially fitted carrier to carry two pails of water he goes up and down the car park washing his regular clients’ cars three times a week.
He charges RM50 a month for monthly clients and RM 5 for random clients a wash.
“I have about 40 regular clients and together with random clients, I can earn about RM1,000 a month which is suffice for me survive,” said Rosli whose wife passed away last year and stays with his youngest one son in a low-cost rental at which he pays RM124 per month.
“I am very grateful to Encik Khairizal for giving permission to operate in their premises. He is an ardent sports fan and took pity on me and allowed me to earn my living washing cars at the bank’s premises.
“I have been doing this for more than 30 years and I am not ashamed of it because I am earning an honest living and working hard for it,” said Rosli who was inducted into the Hall of Fame last year.
Rosli said that he does get assistance from The National Athletes Welfare Foundation (YAKEB) where his medical bills are taken care off.
“I am grateful to YAKEB too for assisting me and many other past athletes with our medication bills. We have a medical card given by YAKEB and use it to get our monthly medical supply.
“Otherwise, I do not get any form of assistance in cash or kind. Not that I am complaining, but it would have been nice to be remembered for our services rendered to the nation and in our old age to get some form of recognition in form financial assistance like pension.”
When YAKEB launched their 1Ringgit 1Malaysia campaign in 2009, they had presented Rosli RM2,000 and a bag of rice to Rosli and his family.
“But thank god that I can still work, and can earn some pocket money washing cars. I use the money for my daily expenses, buys some gifts for my grandchildren when I can and save some just in case there comes a day I cannot come to work.
Rosli, who hails from Bunut Payong in Kota Baru, Kelantan, said he came to the city in the 60s to attend the trials for the Asian Games cycling for three days and on a hired bicycle.
“It was the passion to represent the nation and do honours which saw him leave home and I have no regrets despite my current position. I enjoyed every minute of the eleven years.
“And to see my two sons – Nor Effandy and Noor Azahar – take up my footsteps and don national colours was a proud moment for me.
“At least they are better off, as in their era there were efforts to take of employment for athletes. Nor Effandy under former KL mayor Tan Sri Elyas Omar got a job as an enforcement officer with City Hall.”
Rosli said that sports will be benefit from officials who are truly passionate about it and have the welfare of athletes at heart.
“Elyas was truly an exemplary sport official who has done a great deal for Malaysian sports.
“But more often than not officials are there for their own benefits and athletes are often neglected.”
However, Rosli said that athletes these days have it good and should be performing much better in the world arena.
He suggested that athletes in all sports should be more exposed to overseas training methods and more importantly competed in top level competitions and regularly.
“The only way for Malaysian sports to rise is to compete against the best regularly,” said Rosli.
1962 – Bronze medal in team 100km Asian Games Jakarta
1963 – Represented nation at the Commonwealth Games in Australia
1963 – Gold medal in 100km team and bronze in 200km team event at the Asian Championship in Kuala Lumpur.
1964 – Olympic Games in Tokyo
1966 – Asian Games in Bangkok
1967 Silver medal in SEAP Games in Kuala Lumpur
1969 SEAP Games in Bangkok
1970 – Bronze medal at the 200km Asean Cycling Championship, Singapore
1971 – Silver medal at SEAP Games in Kuala Lumpur
1973 – Fourth in 20km Big Walk at Singapore Sea Games

Friday, May 20, 2016

Athletics on right track


ATHLETICS is finally heading in the right direction and the fact that a pool of young talented athletes has emerged augurs well for its future.
The sport was in the doldrums for a long time due to lack of talent, neglected grassroots development, internal politicking, weak management and conflicts with stakeholders and related bodies, like the sports schools, Ministry of Education (MoE) and the National Sports Council (NSC). Now at last, all the parties seem to be in sync, having sorted out their differences and working together to lift the sport.
Whatever the supposed shortcomings of Malaysian Athletics Federation (MAF) president Datuk Karim Ibrahim, the national body seems to have got its act together and established a good relationship with the MoE and NSC.
Dr Mehander Singh, director of sports at the MoE, who took office last October, has been a breath of fresh air and is truly sports oriented. He is certainly the right man to helm sports in schools, having graduated as a teacher with a physical and health education certificate in 1980 and attained his bachelor’s degree in the same field in 1988, a master’s degree in education (curriculum and instruction) from the University of Houston in 1995 and finally his doctorate from Universiti Sains Malaysia in 2005.
The 56-year-old was deputy director of Raja Melewar Teachers Education Institute for four years before assuming duties with the MoE. He had also served with the ministry as the head assistant director of the sports division for six months from 2010.
And now, with Zainal Abas, the athletics head coach of the SEA Games 2017 project and former teacher and athletics coach with the Bukit Jalil Sports School, as the assistant director, Mehandar looks set to take not only athletics but also sports in schools to the desired level.
Additionally, there is Datuk Ahmad Shapawi Ismail, who has been the director-general of the NSC from December 2014. He has vast experience in the development of sports, having started off as an officer in the athletes’ preparation unit in 1988 and rising to the director of the unit in 2007. He was also directly involved in the Jaya 98, Gemilang 2001 and Doha 2006 programmes. With such professionalism, things are indeed looking up for athletics.
We must not forget the Tunku Mahkota Ismail Sports School (SSTMI) in Bandar Penawar, Johor, which is on a par with the more famous Bukit Jalil Sports School and which, under the able leadership of headmaster Suhaimi Sun Abdullah, is factory to a lot of talented athletes. 
Coaches like Poad Kassim and teachers in the various states too have played a role in the revival of athletics in this country.
It must be noted that the MAF has appointed a new breed of coaches for the 2017 SEA Games project, who include former national athlete Josephine Mary (400m women/relay), Hamberi Mahat (400m men/relay), Entheran Subramaniam (middle/long distance), Teh Weng Chang (pole vault), Shahadan Jamaluddin (hurdles), Balamurugan Maniam (short sprints) and Lim Teoh Boon (walking).
Foreigners, such as Alex Stewart (high jump), Samuel Kipsang Rono (middle and long distance) and Leo Almando Brown (sprints and hurdles) who have come aboard recently, and Gu Yuan (hammer throw), Franstisek Petrovic (discus), and Victor Sotnikov and Alim Akhmejanov (jumps), have also been coaching in Malaysia for some time now, are playing a role in the rise of the sport.
The happy result of all these efforts has been a new and young crop of athletes who are already making their mark.
When asked for his comments, athletics icon Tan Sri Dr M Jegathesan observed: “It reminds me of my running days in the 1960s when we had a big pool of athletes who were all of calibre and who went on to make their mark.
“Currently, we have a handful of talented athletes and it is important that they are guided well and given the best training and exposure to realise their true potential.”
While high jumper Nauraj Singh Randhawa, who qualified on merit to attend the Rio Olympics in July, is the latest sensation in the field, there many other athletes waiting to exhale. Names that come to mind include Arvinn Thevarr (200m), Jackie Wong Siew Cheer (hammer throw), Hakimi Ismail (triple jump) middle-distance runners M. Kesavan, Asif Rahman Jiyaudee, Putra Azrul Shazwan Azman and Shreen Samson Vallabouy, and 4 X 100m women’s relay runners S. Komalam Shally, Siti Fatima Mohamad, Zaidatul Husniah Zulki and Nurul Faizal Azma Mazlan.
Then we have athletes from SSTMI like sprinters Badrul Hisyam Abdul Manap and Muhammad Haiqal Hanafi, their relay teammates Muhammad Azam Masri, Muhammad Nazreen Ezat Che Hassan, Khairul Hafiz Jantan and Asnawai Hashim and middle-distance runner Muhammad Saiful Safwan Saifuddin. Among the women, we have sprinter Nor Aliyah Abdul Rahman and middle-distance runners J. Puspa Letchumy and Faradilah Raznie.
Rising school athletes comprise Grace Wong Xiu Mei and Ngu Ing Biao (hammer throw), A. Manissha (2,000m steeplechase), Nurhashima Shahril (shot putt), Chan Sau Mun (pole vault) and Eizlan Dahalan (high jump), to name but a few.
The young ones having already made an impact at the Singapore SEA Games, Philippines Open, Asean Schools Games and the South East Asian youth championship in Thailand.
 Sherren and Nurul Faizal were placed second and third the Taiwan Open 400m final yesterday.
Vietnam’s Thi Ngoc Hoang took first place in 53.79s while Shereen, who is running in her first international event since last year’s Sea Games in Singapore where she won the bronze medal with her personal best of 54.26, clocked 55.28s yesterday. Nurul Faizal finished 55.72s.
Our young athletes could create more headlines at the Asian Junior championship in Vietnam, and the Kazakhstan and Hong Kong Opens next month.
There is a lot of promise in athletics at the moment but the key thing is for everyone concerned to not lose their focus and keep their eyes on their goals. 

SEA GAMES 2017 1st phase programme (Sept 2015- Sept 2016) list of athletes:
1.     Adi Aliffuddin Hussin 2. Ahmad Luth Hamizan 3. G Aravin Thevarr 4. Abdrul Hisyam Abdul Manap 5. K. Dinesh 6. Harith Ammar Mohd Sobri 7. Iskandar Alwi 8. Jackei Wong Siew Cheer 9. Johathan Nyepa 10 M. Kesavan 11. Mohamad Arif Zulhilmi Alet 12. Mohamad Shamrin Mohd Aris 13. Mohd Izzuddin Yahaya 14. Mohd Shamimi Azmi 15. Muhaad Firdaus Musa 16. Muhammad Azam Masri 17. Muhammad Hakimi Ismail 18. Muhammad Irfan Shamsuddin 19. Muhammad Khairul Harith Harun 20. Muhammed Ashraff Saiou Rahman 21. Muhd Ajmal Aiman Mat Hassan 22. Nauraj Singh Randhawa 23. Nixson Kennedy 24. Rayzam Shah Wan Sofian 25 Russel Alexander Nasir Taib
1. Bibi Nuraishah Ishak 2. Chuah Yu Tian 3. Elena Goh Ling Yin 4. Fatin Faqihah Mohd Yusof 5. Grace Wong Xiu Mei 6. Kirthana Ramasamy 7. Komalam Shally Selvaretnam 8. Ku Munirah Ku Zamzuri 9. Noor Amira Mohamad Nafiah 10. Nor Shahidatun Nadia Mohd Zuki 11. Norris Foo 12. Nur Fatin Abidah Suharman 13. Nurfazira Jalaludin 14. Nurul Faizah Asma Mazlan 15. Raja Nursheena Raja Azhar 16. Saidatul Izzati Suhaimi 17. Savinder Kau Joginder Singh 18. Shereen Samson Vallabouy 19. Siti Fatima Mohamad 20 Yap Jeng Tzan 21. Yap Sean Yee 22. Zaimah Atifah Zainuddin

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​

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Life goes on for Raja

By Tony Mariadass

Parting company with Sarawak FA before completing his contract is not a stigma in Datuk K. Rajagobal’s illustrious coaching career.
Rajagobal who turns 60 on July 10 said he is disappointed, but it was the best decision under the circumstances.
The former Selangor and national winger, relinquished his post of five months after discussing with Sarawak president Datuk Sudarsono Osman.
“Contrary to reports, I was not rested. We had a discussion where I expressed my feeling that it would be in the best interest of all to part ways,” disclosed Rajagobal.
“The president offered to redesignate me as a technical director or development coach, but I declined.
I accept the responsibility for the team being at the bottom of the League table and perhaps missing out the Malaysia Cup,” said Rajagobal whose appointment with Sarawak was the first after his contract was not renewed with the national team in December 2013.
“I leave Sarawak on a good terms and with no ill feelings. Expectations were high. If we were a few rungs higher in the league, things would have been different.”
However, Rajagobal said he believes Sarawak will make the Malaysia Cup by beating Perak in the next game.
“I'm disappointed with the results but happy with the performance and work done," he said.
“My goal was to work with young players and to have at least 80 per cent of them in the first team by 2019. The team will improve  but time was not on my side.
“I knew I had a squad who were not comparable to many top teams, but I was confident that we could manage.
"Injuries and lack of depth meant we struggled. ”
Asked if this stint would be a sore point in his coaching career, he replied: “Coaching is all about challenges.
"Sometime it takes more time to achieve results. Whatever happens, must accept it and move on. I leave having given my best.”
Rajagobal said that he will take a few weeks off to decide on his future.
“My priority will be to coach a national team in this region. I had a few offers recently,” said Rajagobal without revealing the countries.
Rajagobal spent a decade with the FA of Malaysia from 2003, starting with the national Under-23 team progressing to coach both the youth and national teams in 2009 and handling the national team till 2013.
He was also the caretaker national coach for the 2006 Fifa World Cup qualifiers and has coached Selangor and Kelantan.
His achievements include qualifying for the AFC Youth U-20 rounds and reaching the quarterfinals after 33 years in 2005, winning the Under-19 Lion City Cup in Singapore, Under-19 the same year International Hong Kong tournament and qualifying the AFC Under-20 final rounds in India after 27 years all in the same year. He also coached the National Under-23 team to the Sea Games gold medal in Laos after 20 years in 2009 and also winning the AFF Suzuki Cup after 14 years the following year.
With such credentials, it would be matter of time before Rajagobal, who holds a German FA ‘A’ licence, is back in the hot seat.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Do it for the clubs, PKNS!


Romance, excitement, upsets and giant killings feats are all trimmings of the FA Cup tournament and PKNS gave all of that en route to qualifying for the 2016 FA Cup final tomorrow against hot favourite and Malaysian football giant, Johor Darul Ta’zim.
PKNS (Perbadanan Kemajuan Negeri Selangor or State Development Corporation of Selangor) will be the first club to attempt to win the FA Cup since the competition was inaugurated in 1990.
Club-based football has been trying to make its mark on Malaysian football but has failed miserably thus far because in this country, it is all about state-based sentiments.
Besides, several clubs that tried to break the monopoly of states were hampered by a lack of resources, especially monetary, to sustain themselves.
Those clubs that have come on board are mainly employer-based and do well as long as there is support from management, but the moment there is a shift in top-level management or a change in company policy, the umbilical cord is severed.
Among the big spenders that did well in the past but could not withstand the test of time are MPPJ (Malaysia Cup champion in 2004), Malacca Telekom, Public Bank, Negri Sembilan Chempaka, UPD-MyTeam FC, Plus and MK Land, to name but a few.
Smaller clubs that folded after playing in the Premier League include Kuala Lumpur Malay Mail FC (2000-2002).
PKNS is one of the oldest clubs around, having been formed in 1967. From a powerhouse in the Selangor League, they went on to become one of the top clubs in FAM Cup, joint champions with Negri Sembilan Indians in 1978, winning it in 1979, and winning it again, in 2002. They were then admitted to the Premier League, where they remained for nine seasons before emerging the champion in 2011 and getting prompted to Super League. They won the Fair Play trophy in 2006 and were voted the Best Club in 2011.
Other club teams in the Malaysian League are relatively newcomers as compared to PKNS in Felda United who are currently heading the Super League table and T-Team, while in the Premier League together with PKNS are DRB-Hicom, Uitm and Sime Darby.
If PKNS, currently back in the Premier League, bag the FA Cup, they will be the first club to do so.
Indeed, PKNS have a proud history as they have not only been a club for players to pursue their football career but also a place of employment.
In the 1970s and 1980s, when professional football was an alien term, PKNS were already a "professional club" under the leadership of former Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Harun Idris, who was considered the godfather of Selangor football. The club excelled as top management prioritised sport.
In fact, the late Mokhtar Dahari and R. Arumugam, Walter Biggs, Hanapiah Ali, Reduan Abdullah, brothers Shah Norbit and Zulkifli, Khadhir Buyong, Quah Swee Leong and K. Rajagobal played for PKNS.
PKNS not only is big in football but the sports club also excel in many other sports like hockey, athletics, basketball and others.
The club have their own facilities for sports activities in the form of the PKNS Sports Complex, which boasts two football fields. They are also big on football development with a Football Academy in place.
Leading the club today is their first woman chairperson, Siti Zubaidah Abdul Jabar.
Winning the FA Cup final will see PKNS earn a place in the AFC Cup next year, which alone should be enough incentive for the team to rise to the occasion and take the club to the next level – international.
The odds may be stacked heavily against PKNS but the FA Cup is, after all, about upsets and could well see coach E. Elavarasan steer his team to victory.
It may be a long shot but no other club deserves the impossible dream more than PKNS. Win or lose, the players would have done their club proud and should walk tall with their heads held high no matter what the outcome.
PKNS would do club football a great favour if they won because that would underline the fact that club football is alive and can make the cut.
And what better time for PKNS to stamp their authority and win more fans than now when "big brother" Selangor is facing turbulence after having been ousted out of the FA Cup and AFC Cup and still trying to find a firm footing in the M-League.
The club have only ordered 10,000 tickets for their fan base but that could easily double if they captured the FA Cup and converted some of the Red Giants to Red Ants.
PKNS’ mantra for the night should be "nothing is impossible".

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​

Elavarasan's Midas Touch

By Tony Mariadass

Ela rocks with PKNS

E. Elavarasan strives on handling low key teams and taking them to the next level.
Come tomorrow, the 54-year-old coach will again be on the limelight take on  when PKNS Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) in the FA Cup final..
The former Selangor defender who always likes to keep a low profile admits that his team has an uphill battle against JDT.
Elavarasan who was better known as a club player as he only played one season for Selangor – in 1989 when they won the League title – has done well as a coach.
When he got his 'A' licence in 1994, he coached  his employers for 20 years – Public Bank  – where he was a senior sports officer in the sports department.
He helped them win the 2002 FAM Cup, which saw them earn promotion to the Premier League the following season.
They subsequently won the League to earn qualification to the Super League.
Ela as he is affectionately known as in the football circles, strives on challenges.
“I have enjoyed coaching low key teams. My years of experience as a player and coach with Public Bank was my foundation,” said Ela who is in his second season with PKNS.
“We have done well to make the final and if we win it, it will be an icing to the cake and testament on the players dedication, determination and hunger for success.
“It is going to be an uphill task, but anything can happen in a final.”
After Public Bank FC decided to quit the League, Ela had moved to coach Malacca and guided them to Super League in his first year there in first year in 2008.
Subsequently he took the offer from Datuk Goh Seng Chong, the Vice President of Malacca FA to join his organization as the general manager of Cubic Integrated Sport and Recreation where both Arsenal Soccer School and Cubic Academy of Football were under him.
Felda United came calling midway through the 2010 season after their coach, Reduan Abdullah, was suspended by the FAM. Elavasaran guided them to win the Premier League and gain promotion to the Super League for the 2011. Elavasaran also led Felda to the quarter final of the 2012 Malacca.
He then moved to coach Terengganu before he joineing PKNS in 2015.
In PKNS reaching the final, Ela said the luck of draw also played part in their progress.
“In the quarterfinals we played a Premier League team (Sime Darby) and that was a help. But all credit to the players who have since seized the opportunity to beat favourites, Perak, in the semifinals.”
Ela also credited the management team for playing a key role in supporting the team.
“We are all very excited in PKNS and whatever happens in the final, everyone deserves a pat on the back. Of course winning the FA Cup will be a dream come true for all of us.”
Ela said he is also hoping the momentum of reaching the final will help their Premier League position.
They are currently fifth behind leaders Kuala Lumpur, Malacca United, Negri Sembilan and Johor DT 11 after 10 matches.
Having guided Public Bank FC (2003), Malacca (2006) and Felda United (2010) gain promotion from the Premier League to the Super League, it will definitely be another feather in his cap if he achieves it with PKNS.
But for now, Elavarasan is plotting JDT's downfall.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

'Mr Squash' returns

 Squash’s main man Maniam returns

Subramaniam Singaraveloo or better known as Mej (Rtd) S. Maniam returns to Malaysia to take up the Squash Racquets Association of Malaysia’s (SRAM) director of coaching post on July 1 after imparting his expertise in India for 14 years.
The former Malaysian national squash champion, national coach, Director of Coaching and affectionately known “Mr Squash of Malaysia” is certainly the most decorated Asian squash personality having been inducted to the Asian Squash Federation in 2009 and besides his consultant coach position in India, he was also the Director of Coaching for the Asian Squash Federation (ASF) and is still the director of the World Squash Federation (WSF) coaching and development committee. He has conducted more than 200 coaching courses at various levels.
The 62-year-old who will return to Malaysia on the third week on June was contacted by Mailsport’s TONY MARIADASS in Chennai and below he answers 10 questions…..

Mailsport: What made you return?
Mej Maniam: During his tenure as president of SRAM, Datuk Sani Karim invited me to return as Director of Coaching. But it did not work out at that time. The current president Huang Ying How then asked me sometime late last year. My contract with India was up for renewal in October 2016. I spoke with Mr N.Ramachandran, the patron of SRFI, expressing my desire to take up the Malaysian offer. After some discussions he reluctantly gave me his blessings. I had served Indian squash 14 years.
My family were happy as they wanted me back. My two daughters had moved back a few years ago.
My 17 years with SRAM was enjoyable and fruitful and I wanted to work with them again.

Mailsport: Who played significant role in your squash journey?
Mej Maniam: When I left in 2002 I had the blessings of two very important people in my squash career. Tan Sri Tunku Imran who was responsible for my coaching career and Tan Sri Mokhzani who was then the president of SRAM. In fact, Tan Sri Mokhzani wanted me back after a couple of years of my departure. I will never forget the support they provided throughout.
I am glad that I am finally returning to give back to squash in Malaysia. It has been an incredible journey for me.

Mailsport: How long will your contract be for?
MM: Two years.

Mailsport: What are your plans and what do you hope to achieve. What needs to be done? Is two years enough to revamp squash scene?
MM: SRAM  doing are well. I  may make small changes to see better results. I would like to focus on SRAM’s coach education programme. We need to bring many of the experienced local coaches up to speed with the rest of the advanced countries in squash. We need to continue improving our ‘bench strength’. The National Junior Development Programme would probably require a full time supervisor. I’d like to see Malaysian squash take back its rightful place as the world’s top four in men’s, women’s, junior men and junior women. Two years may not be sufficient for this to happen. I’d like to see another world champion (junior or senior- in addition to Nicol and Ong Beng Hee) emerge from Malaysia in the near future.

Mailsport: How was your tenure in India and what were your significant achievements?
MM: Besides being a coaching consultant in India, I conducted coaching and umpires courses, umpired, trained technical officials and helped out in the administration.
It was enjoyable and memorable tenure. I had a fantastic team with me. ASF Coach of the year Cyrus Poncha has been a great understudy and is more than ready to take the reins over from me. Mr. Ramachandran was a pillar of strength. He gave me a free hand to handle coaching. I set up a coach education programme, a National Junior development programme and a structured junior and elite training system.
Saurav Ghosal’s British Junior Open U19 title, Asian Games Gold (men) and Dipika Pallkai and Joshna Chinappa winning the 2014 Commonwealth gold (women) brings fond memories.

Mailsport: How do you see the squash world today compared to your playing days and since Nicol made her impact?
MM : Squash has evolved with new courts, equipment, scoring and refereeing. The quality of the squash court floors allows players to play and train longer and harder without too many injuries caused by the hard floors of yesteryear. The rackets are lighter and generate more power. This allows additional use of wrist for deception and short kills. The point a rally scoring is entertaining and encourages players to be adventurous at the right time. Stricter refereeing ensures the game flows without too much interference. Today’s players are extremely fit, fast and powerful. Specialist physical trainers are becoming a norm at the elite level. Sports science is playing a pivotal role in the grooming of world class squash players. The media (print, digital and social) have played an important role. Budding youngsters, these days are watching and learning via their mobile phones.

Mailsport: Do you see Malaysian players making an impact?
MM: Not having studied the full spectrum of players in the country I can only guess. Ng Eain Yeow and Sivasangari come to mind.
Delia Arnold showed her true mettle during the British Open in September 2015 where she beat Raneem El Weilily to make the semis. It was an outstanding performance. This only shows she has it in her to make top 10 at least. Need to look at her plans and take it from there.

Mailsport: How do you see Nicol's present form and will she be able to regain the world No 1  position?
MM: Nicol has been flying our flag proudly in the international arena for more than a decade now. She has been able to maintain her supreme fitness. The 17 inch tin requires her to be quicker and more aggressive. Players need to use the front of the court productively which I am sure Nicol is working on. Having worked with Nicol, before I can assure you one thing - she never ever gives up. She will give everything she has to regain her number one spot. It will not be easy but I am confident with slight modifications in her game and training, Nicol can be world No 1 again

Mailsport: How do you see the current coaching set-up with SRAM?
MM: I first travelled with Ong Beng Hee, when he played in the Scottish Junior Open (Under-11). Since then I have seen him grow into a world class squash player. Now he is a national coach at SRAM and I look forward to working with him yet again. Peter Genever whom I have met on several occasions is soft spoken and has been doing a great job with all the players at SRAM. Andrew Cross has done a great job with Eain Yeow. My old friend Raymond Arnold carries years of experience.
 In the team I shall be working with Peter Chee, the coaching Chairman and Leslie Ponnampalam and I am really looking forward to it because I think we have a great team. 
Together as a team and with full support from Datuk Ahmad Shapawi (Ismail) from the National Sports Council, I think we can take SRAM a notch higher.

Mailsport: Do you still play squash? What about your three daughters?
What do you do during your leisure time?
MM: I still play squash but mainly doubles. Of my three daughters (Venisha Mani, Ashrena Mani and Jesheila Mani), only Jesheila the youngest took up the game. She played as a junior in Malaysia and a little in India. Due to studies she quit. She has a bachelors in economics and runs an Internet marketing company called Chammak selling Indian products. My oldest has a masters in psychology and is employed by Institute Sukan Negara (National Sports Institute). The middle one, Ash, is with us in India. I love golf and reading.


D.O.B:                                 11 March 1954
Place of Birth:                    Kuala Lumpur
Nationality:                        Malaysian
Marital Status:                   Married with three daughters
Malaysian Armed Forces: 1972 - 1992
Graduated:                         Military Academy- Portsea, Australia 1975

1983-1985                           Assistant National Coach - SRAM
1986-2002                           National Chief Coach - SRAM 
1990-2013                           Director of Coaching - ASF
1999-2002                           Chairman-Malaysian Sports Coaches Assoc.
1995 - 2000                         Consultant Coach - WSF
1995 - 2009                         Coaching Committee - WSF
1997- 2012                          Seeding Panel - WSF & ASF
1996-2000                           Referee Advisor - WSF
1997-1998                           International Referee - WSF
2002- Current                    Consultant Coach SRFI
2009 - 2012                         Referee Appointments Review Panel-WSF
1990 - 2011                         Director of Coaching - ASF
2009 Nov - current            Director of Coaching and Development - WSF

1980, 1983, 1984, 1985       Sportsman of the year for Squash - Malaysia
1980                                     Player of the Year - East Asia
1985                                     Sportsman of the Year - Armed Forces
1998                                     Coach of the Year - Malaysia (all sports)
1999                                     WSF Award for work done in China
2009                                     ASF Hall of Fame
2012                                     WSF Award of Recognition

Squash Career:
1976                                    Started squash
1978 -1988                          Armed Forces Champion
1978 - 1986                         Represented Malaysia
1980 and 1985                    Malaysian National Champion
1980                                    Player of the year - East Asia
1980 and 1981                   SRAM Closed Champion
1983                                    Malaysian Closed Champion
1984 and 1985                    National Circuit Champion (Guinness)

Coaching Qualifications:
1980                                      Level 1
1981                                      Level 1 Course Tutor
1982                                      Level 2                                 
1983                                     Assistant National Coach-Malaysia                           
1983                                     Level 2 Course Tutor
1986                                     National Chief Coach                              
1986                                     Level 3 (England)
1989                                     Level 3 Course Tutor

Achievements as Coach
·     Worked with players who became Commonwealth Games Womens Doubles champions, Asian Games champions, World Junior mens and womens champions, British Junior Open champions and winners of several other international titles.

·        Successfully groomed coaches in the region. Some of whom are Allan Soyza (Director of Coaching-Malaysia), Aaron Soyza - Coach to former world no.6 (Low Wee Wern), Raymond Arnold (National Coach -Malaysia), Peter Chee (National Development officer-Malaysia), Cyrus Poncha (National Coach and Recipient of the highest coaching award in India- the Dronacharya Award) and many other elite coaches

·        Created and implemented the Coach Education Programme for the Asian Squash Federation, Malaysia and India.

·        Initiated the WSF Coach Education Programme.

·        Created and implemented the Sportexcel Junior Squash Circuit - Malaysia

·        Compiled and successfully implemented the National Junior Development     Programme and the Long Term Development Programme in Malaysia and   India
·        Introduced an Instructors course to the Asian Squash Federation

·        Lectured at the World Coaching and Development Conference (Malaysia,    Brazil, Sweden, Poland) WSF AGM (KL, Austria, New Zealand,  Philadelphia, Nice) and all coaching conferences in Asia.

·        Conducted more than 100 coaching courses, seminars and coaching clinics   around the world

Outstanding achievement of Teams
Malaysia     -            East Asian Champions - Senior and Junior
-            Asian Junior Champions - Junior Men and Junior Women
-                Asian Champions -Men and Women
-                World Junior Women - 2nd

India             -           World Junior Mens Team -4th
  -               World Junior Womens Team - 3rd
  -           World Mens Doubles - 2nd
                       -           International Invitation Doubles – Womens - 1st
                       -           Asian Mens Team - 2nd
   -          Asian Womens Team - 1st
   -          Asian Junior Mens Team - 1st
   -          Asian Junior Womens Team 1st 
   -          Asian Games - Men-Individual Silver, Women Bronze
   -          Asian Games - Mens Team- Gold and Womens Team -                                    Silver
   -          Commonwealth Games Womens Doubles Gold
   -          Commonwealth Youth Games Boys Individual Bronze and         Mixed Doubles silver

Outstanding Achievement - Individuals
Nicol David              World Junior Champion
Ong Beng Hee          World Junior Champion

Saurav Ghosal        British Junior Open - Champion, Asian Junior
                                  2nd, Asian Games - Bronze.  Joshna Chinappa    British                                             Junior Open          
                                  Champion, Asian Junior -
             Champion, WISPA Satellite Winner, 
              CWG-Womens Doubles Gold, Arjuna Award

Parth Sharma          National Jr. Champion
Dipika Pallikal        Asian Junior Champion - U15, Asian Games -                                               Bronze, CWG-Womens Doubles Gold, Arjuna                                            Award
Anaka Alankamony   Asian Jr. Champion, Youngest WISPA satellite      winner, Arjuna Award
Ravi Dixit                 Asian Junior Champion
Harinder Pal Singh  PSA Satellite Winner, National Champion
Kush Kumar             Asian Junior Champion (U17) Asian Youth 
    Games  - Gold, World Jr. 2014 - Bronze, BJO           2015 Bronze
                     Velavan S                 Commonwealth Youth Games -  Bronze
                      Harshit Kaur/Velavan Commonwealth Youth Games - Mixed                                                                          Doubles - Silver

Other contributions
Created and helped implement the ASF Performance and Coaching Awards
Initiated the Asian annual individual junior championships
Initiated the WSF annual individual junior championships