Friday, May 26, 2017




WITH the final selection of athletes for the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games less than two weeks, officials must ensure the best athletes are chosen.
Selection involving timing, distances, heights and qualification based on previous results will leave little to debate.
It is team sports and sports where performance judgement is subjective, where some athletes may suffer the disappointment of missing out.
While the primary responsibility of officials is to make choices and understand the impact of decisions on athletes, sometimes it is ignored to grant favours, show favouritism and to safeguard their position in the associations.
Officials are expected to model positive sport ethics based on the moral guides of justice, honesty and responsibility.
They are not supposed to initiate actions which would prevent prejudice and discrimination against individuals or groups.
Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin has stated he is counting on Malaysia emerging champions by surpassing 111 gold medals.
He expects the best athletes to be selected but because Malaysia are the host, there is going to some flexibility to field athletes in all events.
This is where some genuine athletes who are the future of their sports and borderline cases, could be overlooked.
Senior athletes whose performances are declining could be selected to reward them with a swansong appearance or athletes or parents who have influence with officials in the association are picked.
Then we will have athletes who are training overseas and qualified for the Games, who are conveniently forgotten or ignored, for local or “favourite” athletes.
We also have officials who have served their shelf life and but still want to cling on to their post by granting favours to influential people in the association to ensure they hold on to their positions.
They have to let go of their posts for the younger generation of who may have fresh ideas and are more relevant to current day situations.
We have officials who sit in international or Asian federations who would even go out of their way to tailor competition formats to suit other nations as favours to remain in these bodies to enjoy the trips and competitions.
If any Malaysian official, whether intentionally or influenced, fails to adhere strictly to the code of ethics, it will not be wrong to call them “traitors”.
Officials are present to serve their athletes and should never betray the trust the athletes place in them.
They must remain humble and serve with dignity and pride.
If for any reason they feel that they cannot serve impartially, they should vacate their position or the people who are responsible for putting them in place, have an obligation to remove them.
For the sake of the nation and an honourable performance at the KL SEA Games, let’s hope it will be fair play and true sportsmanship displayed by all officials to put up the best possible contingent to bring honour.
TONY is a sports journalist with close to four decades’ experience and is passionate about local sports.
He can be reached at

Friday, May 19, 2017




  WE celebrated Teachers Day on Wednesday but we must not forget the special breed of “sports teachers” from the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s who acted as talent scouts, coaches, councillors and mentors.
They had the heart and soul for sports and did their share for development.
They didn’t receive remunerations, but gave time, money and passion to groom thousands of future national athletes and icons.
The Ministry of Education (MOE) should set up a Hall of Fame for them.
There are various reasons why teachers of late have been blamed for not having the same commitment for sports.
Among them are lack of rewards, schools not interested in sports, education taking precedence, teachers concentrating on tuition and diminishing number of school fields.
In all fairness MOE, especially the sports division headed by Dr Mehander Singh, are doing their best to make sports relevant in the education system.
Under high performance schools, 2,061 coaches and 37,339 athletes are involved in 860 district training centres which involves eight core sports — football, hockey, gymnastics (artistic and rhythmic), sepak takraw, athletics, archery, bowling and badminton.
Then there are development programmes in the form of league and circuit for football, athletics, hockey and netball.
These involved 1,425 students.
The cream of potential athletes surface from the Malaysian School Sports Council (MMSM) sports calendar which involves 24 sports.
It involves Under-12, Under-15 and Under-18 boys and girls where 805,088 compete at district level, 100,636 at state level and 12,154 at national level.
Top athletes from MSSM are then selected for Asean, Asian and world age group tournaments.
But the bulk of athletes come from the two sports schools.
It was different back in the day.
I benefited from a dedicated school teacher, Master Kirubakaran Rokk, who was my football coach at St John’s Institution.
He taught civics, but his passion for football was overflowing.
Having attained his coaching badge from the Dave McLaren coaching programme for teachers in the early 1970s, Rokk was determined to see the school team win the Selangor Schools football title.
He formed a squad a year before the championship when we were in Form Four and trained three times a week and during school holidays.
At the end of 1974, just before we broke camp in December, Rokk requested 10 dollars (then it was dollars) from each of us.
It was difficult times and to ask your parents for that sum, could only incur their wrath.
Many of us did odd jobs including pulling out “bull grass” from the school field and were paid about three dollars for a half day work by Brother Director Joseph Yeoh.
I also “picked tennis balls” at Selangor Club to earn a few more dollars.
We then handed Master Rokk the 10 dollars.
On the first day of our 1975 school assembly, all the football players were called onto the stage and presented with a white track-top with two green-stripes and the embossed school emblem sewn on.
Later we found out Master Rokk had sourced for funds from his friends and had the track top stitched.
It was the proudest moment for many of us and the team pledged we would win the title which the school last won 10 years earlier.
After emerging Datuk Keramat District champions, we travelled the length and breadth of Selangor before reaching the final to meet defending champions and favourites La Salle PJ coached by Bernard Khoo.
We played the final at Merdeka Stadium and we won by a solitary goal from our top striker Stephen Chiam.
The memory still brings tears during my regular meet ups with goalkeeper Mazlan Maaruf, strikers Husin Haron, Annuar Che Wan, Francis Da Silva and midfielders Burhanutheen Ahmed Mustafa and Richard Thor Kong Hock.
It is impossible to credit every one because there are those who shy away from publicity, or work in remote places, while some are never recognised because others take their glory.
Many names mentioned here might not ring a bell but they need to be acknowledged.
Among them include Gerald Rozells, Bernard, Philip Adolphus, Rokk, David Fernandez and Ahmad Shafie (football), Lionel Rajamoney, Michael Perry, C. Ramanathan, T. Krishnan, Rennie Martin, A. Tripadi, S. Sivapragasam, Tan Choo Mong, T. Thiruselvam, Marina Chin, N. Nadarajah (athletics), Brian Foennader, Louis Rodriques, Vincent Fernandez, S. Sivapathsundram, Malek Khiew, Teng Cheng Leong, Pritam Singh Sandhu, Gurdial Singh, Clifford Sequerah (hockey), B. Rajakulasingham, Indran, B. Sathiasivam, R. Ratnasingam, Jimi Chai (cricket), Aladad Khan (multiple sports), Mui Fatt Chai, Goh Yea Yen (badminton), Wong Tong Poh (swimming), Phua Seng Tiong, Ung Ket Chow (rugby) and the list goes on.
A few weeks ago in Alor Star a Kedah Sports Personalities Recognition night organised by former members of the Garuda Athletics Club and they honoured several teachers.
Many of these teachers are still actively involved in coaching despite being retired.
In recent times, there has been fair share of dedicated teachers
Among them are K. Sukumaran, P. Gansesmoorthy, C. Nadarajan, Md Yazid Yahaya, Sidan Harun, Mat Jusoh Saat, Khairul Annuar Khairuddin (football), S. Arunandy, Khoo Boon Keat, A. Vellurajan, K. Segeran Nair, Tan Eng Hui, R. Magendran, Pritam Kaur, (athletics), S. Sasitheran, R. Vivekananda, N. Ghananathan, K. Sunderasan, Tejar Singh, Yap Gark Soo, Mokhtar Baharuddin, Durai Raj (hockey), Mazlan Ahmad (swimming), Guana Seagarn Sammuel, Yasmin Othman, Nahar Desa, Madeline Parril, Khairul Mohtar, Anita Abdullah, Doris Selvi Thomas, Mathialagan, Abdul Rahman Besar (bowling) to name a few.
To these sports teachers and the many more not mentioned, a standing ovation and salute is in order.
The Hall of Fame for sports teachers is definitely long overdue.

TONY is a sports journalist with close to four decades’ experience and is passionate about local sports. He can be reached at:

Friday, May 12, 2017



THE ​Asian Football Confederation’s (AFC) decision on Monday that the national team must play North Korea in Pyongyang next month, in the 2019 Asian Cup qualifiers, is the best decision for the “beautiful game”.
FA of Malaysia (FAM) want to play the match on a neutral ground and appealed to AFC, but insisted the final decision was to be made by the government.
Deputy Home Minister Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican said there was no travel ban to North Korea while Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said he respected AFC’s decision.
As such, it could be seen as government interference if they instruct the team not to play in North Korea.
Utmost on the minds of FAM and fellow Malaysians, in playing the match in Pyongyang, is security.
This is in the wake of the country’s president, Kim Jong-un, planning to conduct the sixth nuclear test under their ballistic missile and nuclear programmes, despite international condemnation.
Malaysia are also concerned we don’t have any representatives at the Malaysian embassy in Pyongyang.
Relations between Malaysia and North Korea soured following the assassination of Kim Jong-nam at klia2 on Feb 13.
The government imposed a travel ban after a diplomatic row escalated but it was lifted in late March.
Datuk Peter Velappan, secretary-general of AFC from 1978 to 2007, said playing in Pyongyang was right.
“Football belongs to everyone. It is the most popular game in the world. It transcends colour, religion, ideology and borders,” said the 81-year-old Peter.
“It touches the heart and emotion of humans more than any sport or institution.”
As former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan had said: “Sport is a universal language. At its best it can bring people together, no matter their origin, background, religious beliefs or economic status.”
The power of sport to unify, empower and motivate has been recognised not only by sports bodies but also governments.
How can we forget “Ping-Pong (table-tennis) diplomacy” in 1971 when US-China relations improved, when the American table tennis team, in Japan for the 31st World Table Tennis Championship, received a surprise invitation from their Chinese colleagues for an all-expense paid visit to the People’s Republic.
On April 10, nine players, four officials, and two spouses stepped across a bridge from Hong Kong to the Chinese mainland, ushering in an era of “Ping-pong diplomacy” which paved the way to a visit to Beijing by President Richard Nixon.
The US table tennis team were the first group of Americans allowed into China since the Communist takeover in 1949.
Peter cited football matches after the wars between Iran and Iraq, Kuwait and Iraq, and North Korea and South Korea, which were played on a home and away basis.
It paved the way for better relations.
“Football will be the best platform to mend any soured relations as sports transcends all barriers,” said Peter.
“I was involved in arranging the match between South Korea and North Korea and can attest to the ‘red carpet’ treatment the North Korean will give the Malaysian team. They are hospitality people.”
As for fears for security, AFC would have explored and studied all possible situations, before making their decision.
In any case, with the concerns surrounding the match, AFC would in all probability classify the match as “high risk”.
This will mean extra precautionary, scrutiny and requirements will be imposed by AFC, who will also send their security team for the match.
There are strict rules in place on host teams providing adequate security for visiting teams.
AFC will also asses the situation two weeks before the match.
The AFC 2018 Group B Women’s Asian Cup qualifying tournament was held in Pyongyang last month without any security issues.
South Korea who emerged champions, Uzbekistan, India, Hong Kong and host North Korea competed.
Malaysia will only be courting trouble asking for a neutral venue or even boycotting the match.
Harimau Malaya could be barred from further participating in the competition and could be fined.
FAM would be spared further sanctions like a ban which could jeopardise the organisation and participation in the KL Sea Games in August or the running of the local league.
Though skipping the match will only see a “rap on the knuckles” from AFC, what is going to hurt Malaysia most is that no ranking points will be attained from this competition.
This could see Malaysia fall further down from their current Fifa ranking of 158.
Besides Malaysia and North Korea (116) the other teams in Group B are Lebanon (137) and Hong Kong (150).
Security factors are of utmost importance but let us trust in the power of sports to make the right decision.
TONY is a sports journalist with close to four decades’ experience and is passionate about local sports. He can be reached at​

Friday, May 5, 2017


IT has been an eventful week and I really don’t know where to start.
It has been a week of blessings, honouring and recognising past heroes and losing dear friends.
I’m indeed lucky to be writing this column as I was involved in a nasty car accident when I was driving to Alor Star on Saturday for the Kedah Sports Personalities Recognition night organised by former members of the Garuda Athletics Club, led by former president R. J. Naidu.
I was travelling with former double international (football and hockey) V. Kalimutu, when the car turned turtle after it skidded near Sungai Perak.
The car, my son’s, was a total wreck and we miraculously escaped unscathed.
We returned to Kuala Lumpur shaken, but the next day I flew to Kedah as I didn’t want to miss the event.
I’m glad I was present for this meaningful ceremony organised by Naidu, a former sports stringer for New Straits Times.
Naidu and his team had shortlisted 68 recipients comprising teachers, coaches, officials and athletes from various sports from 1950s to 1980s to honour and recognise their tireless contributions.
It was an effort by a group of sports enthusiast who financed the event with contributions from well-wishers and supporters of Kedah sports.
Garuda Athletics Club were active in the early 1970s and Naidu organised a reunion dinner 15 months ago for about 50 ex-runners and officials.
This year, Naidu came up with the idea of recognising past Indian athletes, coaches, officials and teachers who had brought honour to Kedah.
With support of Datuk D. Senthinathan, R. Soundrarajan (KIA president), Dr K. Gunasegaran (Kedah AAA president), Dr P. Ravinderan, Dr N. Selvaraja (vice-president Special Olympics Kedah), M. Uthaya Sanker (vice-president Kedah Sports Council), L. Yogeswaran, Dr K. Pannirselvam, and N. Rajagopal, they raised the funds.
Naidu was a product of Garuda Athletics Club, which was formed in 1970 by peace corps volunteer Douglas A Rae with Naidu and officials like Cikgu Halim, Zulkifli Abdul Rahman, Lee Kooi Tong, and Lee Peng Fook.
Among the athletes with the club at that time included Datuk Senthinathan, Soundrarajan, George Daniel (national runner) , M. Subramaniam, G. Krishnasamy, S. Balakrishnan (national runner), Mohamad Zain, Azizan Pawanteh, Tan Boon Leong and S. Gopalakrishnan.
During the function, about RM3,000 was collected to be donated equally to a badminton academy run by Kedah Indian Association, football training centre for Indian juniors, jerseys for the Barathi Primary Tamil School, jerseys for a sepak takraw team of a Tamil school in Sungai Petani and cash to three students for tertiary education.
Many paid tribute to their teachers who were passionate and made sacrifices to ensure their athletes or schools excelled.
That there were even sepak takraw players who played for the state and nation, underlined everyone played every sport at a time when sports had no barrier for race, creed or culture.
Among those present were Olympians M. Mahendran and his brother Surenthiran and Mohinder Singh.
Two days after the event we shed tears as P. Solomon, an athletics official who was honoured the night before, passed away.
While sad, many felt Solomon, 79, could not have left in a better way having met many of his friends and being honoured for his contribution to sports.
Master of ceremony Gopala Krishnan read out Solomon’s credit: “Solomon served Kedah AAA in many capacities and Malaysian AAU (now MAF) as technical committee chairman for 23 years.
“He was elected to the IAAF technical committee in 1987 and remained there till 2007.
“He was the first Malaysian to officiate at the Olympics Games beginning in Seoul in 1988, followed by Barcelona in 1992, and Atlanta in 1996 .
“He also assisted in the World Athletic Championships in Tokyo in 1991, Stuttgart in 1993, Gothenburg in 1995, Seville in 1999, Edmonton in 2001 and Helsinki in 2005.
“His Asian Games assignments stretched 20 years beginning in Seoul in 1986, followed by Beijing, Hiroshima, Bangkok, Busan and ended in Doha in 2006.”
I had a chat with Solomon that night and was shocked to hear from Naidu he had passed on. Rest in peace Solomon.
Then on Tuesday evening, I received news my dear friend and fellow sports journalist, Dan Guen Chin had also passed on.
I had visited him several times since he feel ill last June.
The last time we met was a fortnight ago and being a fighter, I was confident he would pull through.
Dan and I covered the Sydney Olympics 2000 and have known each other for 40 years.
We covered many SEA Games and other international and local events.
He has gone too early and I am going to miss him greatly.
Without doubt, the sports fraternity is going to miss his straight forward, hard hitting reports.
He never tolerated nonsense from officials or athletes.
It is going to be a painful to bid my final farewell to him tomorrow in Johor Baru.
The week has indeed been trying for me, but the lesson from it is not to take anything for granted.
Always be appreciative of every little thing. Always respect and honour people who have contributed to sports in any small way to make it a joyous occasion for many.
TONY is a sports journalist with close to four decades’ experience and is passionate about local sports.
He can be reached at

Athletics — Athletes:
M. Sivaperagasam, G. Krishansamy (athlete and official), R. Veerayah, Abimanan Yaganathan, K. Gunalan (golf), George Daniel, S. Balakrishnan, R. Muniandy, M. Ravintheran, S Ganesan.
P. Solomon, S. Padamanathan, S. Govindarajoo, K. Segaran Nair (coach), Bachan Singh Johl (cricket and hockey).
Badminton — Players: David Munusamy,
Buchi Naidu.
Officials: P. Gandhi, N. Rajagopal.
Boxing — Gopala Krishnan (boxer and official)
Cricket — Players: Didar Singh, C. Sivanandan (teacher), D. Rathakrishnan, Raman Nair, Dorai Raju, Amarjit Singh (hockey).
Football — Players: P. Pathmanathan, S. Vijian, P. Balakrishnan (coach), P. Ganasamurthy (coach), M. Singaram, S. Ragesh, K. Ravichandran, Victor Audrag, V. Thinagaran.
Golf — Player: S. Sivachandran.
Official: M. Shanmugam.
Hockey — Players: Phag Singh, D. Subramaniam,
Makhan Singh, N. Ramanathan,
R. Rajendran, S. Satish Kumar (official), S. Sanjilatheeban (official), Richard Fernandez,
Hong Chu Liang @ Ravi, K .Kamarajan (cricket and official), James M Stephen(cricket), David Ebenezer (athletics and coach), R. Hagappa, Edwin Lambert (athletics), M.Subramaniam (coach), M. Surenthiran, M. Suriaprakash, Mohinder Singh, M. Mahendran, Ron Thiagaraja (official).
Officials: J. Ramadass, Utam Singh,
Dr R Sivabala Naidu.
Karate — M. Suresh (exponent and official).
Sepak takraw — Players: Retnam, P. Ramanathan, Y. Anbarasan, Rajendran Pillay, S. Sarawana, S. Manaimaran (coach).
Taekwondo — S. Krishnamurthy.
* Some recipients were honoured for
more than one sport/role.