Friday, July 31, 2009

Missed opportunities

Football is always a favourite topic for many of us. We talk about a lot about foreign soccer - the players, tournaments and other related matters. Some space is given to talk about the local scene and often we end up critizing the national association, the coach or even the state associations.

In Malaysia, some sports can get the lime light from time to time. But the fact remains, almost everyone wants to hear about football.
I normally refrain from commenting about football because there are so many commentators and experts already doing it. I believe this is proof of just how popular soccer is.

There are many reasons as to why football is not doing well and I am sure we have all read or heard about it. But, when I look back I find that there were times when our nation had the opportunity to see some changes taking place, but we were not serious and missed the chance.

When Sultan Ahmad Shah took over as President of FAM in 1984, he had a vision to transform and make football a sucess story. A couple of months after taking charge, Tuanku announced in London the appointment of Datuk Paul Mony Samuel as executive secretary and talked about his plans for Malaysian football.

The so called press conference was attended by Berita Harian's Zian Johari and me. Soon after, FAM went through many administrative changes and this includes the bringing of foreign experts to help upgrade the coaching, training and refereering departments.

One of them was Richard Bate (picture), a staff coach at FA England, He was appointed FAM's Technical Director in 1992. Bate changed the coaching set-up, made proposals for changes at the state academies which were not performing because of poor selection of coaches and also improved on coach education.

At one point he was asked to handle the national team and after scouting around he selected a group of players and dropped some star players. He was not willing to tolerate bad-attitudes and wanted players who can think.

That became an issue and Bate, realising that he was wasting his time, decided to pack his bags and leave. I feel that was a lost opportunity. If he had the support, the changes could have impacted the national team for some time.

A while later, a match fixing scandal erupted and the players he discarded were among those barred from playing football. If only someone had heard what Bate had to say, things could have been different. Bate is now the Technical Director of Canadian Football Association.

I believe another missed opportunity was when Claude Le Roy was the national coach. In his own way the Frenchman was trying to bring some changes but after the 1995 SEA Games in Chiangmai, Thailand he made up his mind to quit.

Le Roy was not happy with the attitude of some FAM officials who were more concerned with what the media were writting rather than to listen to him. I believe that was another case where we lost the chance.

I believe there were others who also gave crtitical inputs but because it would have disrupted the flow of bad habits, there were shelved.

To be sucessful in football, having the right attitude is important. A right attitude will allow us to change, improve and more importantly, have the capability win tournaments.

Recently I had a chat with national coach K. Rajagopal at his office in Wisma FAM. He seemed very pleased with the team's performances with Manchester United. "Did you see the you know how Singapore fared against Liverpool," he asked.

I told him that Thailand drew with Liverpool and he said Thailand have always been better and they have won the SEA Games competition at least nine times.

True enough, coach. After the 1980s, many teams could beat or were capable of beating Malaysia. Even the Phillipines defeated us 1-0 and we have major problems when facing Vietnam and Laos.

I asked about the new rulings on 2014 World Cup qualifiers where weaker teams have to go through a longer route. "Let's not talk about World Cup. We have to win at ASEAN first before thinking about World Cup," said the hard working coach. I felt there was no need to talk further.

Malaysian football needs visionaries. People who can look to the World Cup and win tournaments along the way. We may take a long time to qualify, but we can make an impact if our priorities are right. Without vision soccer will perish.

FIFA moving with the times

The International Football Federation (FIFA) is moving with the times and adopting a more modern look.
All members of the world body have been asked to use the new design, which is a crucial decision in terms of harmonising FIFA's brand architecture.
It relies on the FIFA woodmark and the "For the Game, For the World" tagline, highlighting the fact that the development of football and football's social responsibility are now placed centre-stage.
"This re-launch will guarentee a consistent brand identity across all FIFA communication platforms,"said FIFA Secretary General, Jerome Valcke in a recent memo to all member countries.
In 2006, FIFA decided to streamline the logos for all of the world body's events and programmes. A design concept was developed which was used as a fundamental part of the look and feel of all FIFA events.
As it was complicated to integrate the corporate logo in events logos, the FIFA corporate logo had some challenges of its own: due to the various layers in the logo (colors, net, world) it was difficult to reproduce, especially in smaller size and on screen or to be integrated in another emblem.
"Following the latest changes, FIFA's corporate communication and the branding of its tournaments are now fully harmonised," said Valcke.
According to the General Secretary, as a result of this new FIFA corporate design, the FIFA Brand Management team will gradually manage the transition to the new FIFA design.
"This transition will have no official start date," added Valcke.

Indonesia gets serious

The Indonesian football authorities (PSSI) have dramatically restructured their preparations for November’s AFC Asian Cup 2011 qualification double-header with Kuwait by cancelling a series of friendly matches and rescheduling their training camp.

According the Jakarta Globe the PSSI has pulled the plug on Indonesia’s home matches against Malaysia, China and Syria as well as their friendly in Saudi Arabia and moved the training camp from early August to September 29.

Rahim Soekasah, head of the National Team Body, told the Jakarta Globe: “Players who got called up will not be allowed to play for their clubs as we will hold a training camp until November.

“There will be no bargaining. Players have the right to refuse to join the camp, but if they do, we will leave the matter to the PSSI.”

The 2009/10 Indonesia Super League is scheduled to start in early October with players who refuse a national team call-up facing a six-month ban and a fine of US$10,000 based on the PSSI’s code of conduct.

Indonesia, who are third in AFC Asian Cup 2011 qualifying Group B with two points after goalless draws against leaders Oman and Australia, face Kuwait in the Middle East on November 14 before hosting the return fixture in Jakarta four days later.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Taekwondo has no governing body, says OCM

Strange things can happen in Malaysian sports. On Tuesday, the Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) announced that national taekwondo exponents have been excluded from the Laos SEA Games in December.

And, the reason for exclusion is due to the absence of a governing body for the sport in the country. As far as everyone knows the Malaysian Taekwondo Association (MTA) is in existence. Why does OCM think there is no governing body?

For the moment an ad-hoc committee chaired by non other than OCM President Tunku Imran Tuanku Jaafar (picture) is running the affairs of the sport until issues such as the constitution and other matters are settled.

On Tuesday, OCM honorary secretary Datuk Sieh Kok Chi was reported to have said a decision was reached by OCM not to send taekwondo to the Games due to the absence of a governing body for the sport in the country.

"If this is a collective decision made by OCM, then we would have to appeal. But if it is a personal statement by Datuk Sieh, then this remark is callous, misleading and designed to confuse," said MTA Deputy President Datuk Sam Mannan, who is also an ad hoc committee member.

"It also shows a lack of respect to the ad hoc committee, which is entrusted to look after the affairs of taekwondo, and to Tunku Imran, who chairs the committee and is the OCM president, by stating that there is no governing body for taekwondo.

"We have sent a letter notifying the World Taekwondo Federation of the existence of the ad hoc committee and followed up by notifying them of the workings of the committee and that it is the sole authority on taekwondo in Malaysia."

MTA president Ho Kham Paw said OCM did not have the right to prevent taekwondo exponents from competing in the Sea Games.

"Why should our exponents be restricted from competing? I don't understand how such a remark could be made when the OCM president is the chairman of the ad hoc committee."

Japan to host 2019 rugby World Cup

Japan might have won the right to host the 2019 rugby World Cup on its platform of bidding ‘for Asia’, but whether the rest of the region benefits remains to be seen.

Part of Japan's plan included allocating some pool matches to Hong Kong, home to the world's biggest Sevens tournament, and Singapore.

The rationale was that it would help cultivate new fans, boost revenue and create business opportunities. But the Japanese union's vice-president, Fumio Wada says this may be reviewed.

‘Hong Kong is well experienced. Singapore is ideally located to draw spectators from Australia and New Zealand, but it is very hot,’ Wada said.

‘We have included Hong Kong and Singapore in order to promote rugby in Asia. But there is a very cooperative view that they may be excluded if necessary.’

The International Rugby Board's general manager for Asia, Jarrad Gallagher, said Japan winning the hosting rights was a reward for its persistence, and he hoped it would benefit the whole region.

‘The most important thing for Asia is to show the world that Asia can hold something like this,’ said Gallagher.

‘I'm not sure about Singapore and Hong Kong at the moment but part of the appeal of the Japanese bid was that it had an Asian feel, so I'm sure they would want to do it.

‘But it's a long way off and the nuts and bolts haven't been sorted out. Regardless, it will be a good showcase for the sport.’ Hosting a major tournament can create a lasting legacy.

In 2002, Japan and South Korea jointly held the football World Cup and it led to better sports facilities, more enthusiasm for the game and several high-profile transfers by their leading players to European clubs.

Rugby chiefs meanwhile made no secret of their hope that awarding the tournament to Asia would help secure the sport a berth at the 2016 Olympics.

But while there will be economic spin-offs from having the rugby World Cup in Japan, and possibly Hong Kong and Singapore, the competitiveness of the sport itself still lags far behind that in Europe, South Africa and Oceania.

Japan is the continent's highest ranked nation at 14 and was the only Asian team to qualify for the last World Cup in France, where they failed to make it past the group stages.

It highlighted the gulf between them and the world's best.

The IRB's Gallagher said the plan was to have at least one or two other Asian teams competitive within eight years.

Efforts to improve standards in Asia saw the introduction of the Asian Five Nations in 2008. Last year, the tournament pitted teams from Japan, Hong Kong, Kazakhstan, South Korea and Singapore.

Japan won with Singapore relegated and the Gulf promoted.

Ian Bremner, chief executive of the Singapore Rugby Union, called the decision to bring the World Cup to the region ‘huge for Asian rugby’.

But despite Japan's bid being called ‘A Tender for Asia’, he too has reservations about whether games in Singapore and Hong Kong will materialise.

‘Japan has been encouraged by the IRB to host the tournament in their own territory and should they wish to go beyond that, they must provide compelling reasons for the inclusion of Singapore and Hong Kong,’ said Bremner.

‘So I think we might still have a little way to run on this.’

Nevertheless, Bremner said the decision to bring the World Cup out East could only be positive for the region.

‘The game in Asia is going through a great growth spurt at the moment and while the growth won't be the same as that experienced by football, all the unions in Asia are experiencing growth,’ he said.

‘The World Cup will help showcase the game in a great way for young people and we hope to build programs around that.

‘It wouldn't just be about one-off games (in Singapore and Hong Kong), we want to get the community involved as well to leave some legacy.’Hong Kong Rugby Football Union chairman Trevor Gregory said handing the tournament to Japan was ‘a major moment in the development of rugby globally’.

‘It will help open new markets for rugby and bring new audiences to the game in Asia. It will provide a major boost to rugby in the region, including Hong Kong and China,’ he told reporters.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

National bodies must have security officers

The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has re-iterated to Member Associations the need to appoint dedicated security officers to comply with FIFA safety regulations.

FIFA, via article 17 of its safety regulations, has made it compulsory on all MAs that a security officer be appointed by January 1 2009.

AFC has given its MAs until August 15 to provide the names and contact details of the person appointed to handle security and safety issues in stadiums.

The need for qualified security personnel was highlighted by stadium tragedies that afflicted the preliminary competitions of the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany and the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa.

In his letter to MAs last year, FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke wrote: “(The) security officer is to serve as the key interface for all issues relating to safety, security and stadiums and to be in a position to liaise and interact with FIFA, the respective confederation and the local authorities.

“This person shall be highly knowledgeable and experienced in sports security matters, preferably football, and shall not occupy any other function within the association.”

This year, FIFA and AFC combined to organise a security and safety conference in Kuala Lumpur for regional governing bodies in order to educate them on crucial aspects of stadium safety.

Heavy defeat for our hockey team

Malaysia fell to one of its heaviest defeats in recent times when Australia defeated them 11-3 in the 3 Nation Quadrangular in Canberra today.
Satwant Singh has the report and you can read it in his blog here

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

New sports magazine

Introducing STADIUM, the newest sports magazine in town. According to Editor, Hamdan Mohd Salleh, the August issue is the third and it is now available in most news stands, at Rm5 copy. Check it out.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Subkhiddin gets closer

The five referees aiming to win places in the FIFA World Cup 2010 South Africa tournament are among the participants at next month’s AFC 2nd Elite Referees Course in the Malaysian capital.

Australian Matthew Breeze, Malaysian Subkhiddin Mohd Salleh (picture), Saudi Arabia’s Khalil Al Ghamdi and Japan’s Yuichi Nishimura and Ravshan Irmatov, of Uzbekistan are all candidates for the South African finals.

The official AFC website said that FIFA has yet to confirm how many referees and their teams of assistant referees will represent AFC at the World Cup finals.

A total of 25 elite referees representing the best match officials in Asia will be in Kuala Lumpur for the August 2-6 course, conducted by Leslie Irvine, of Northern Ireland, and Singapore’s Shamsul Maidin.

AFC is this celebrating Asian Referees Year in 2009 during which referees in the continent are give recognition for their services to football.

September 1 is also designated Asian Referees Day.

Wahai Pesuruhjaya Sukan

Berikut adalah isi surat daripada pemangku bendahari Persatuan Lumba Basikal Kuala Lumpur (PLBKL), Haji Badri Haji Mukri kepada Ketua Penolong Pesuruhjaya Sukan, Mohd Hatta Saliman. Surat ini bertarikh 27 Julai 2009.


Adalah dengan segala hormatnya, saya merujuk perkara tersebut di atas.

2. Sehubungan dengan itu, saya selalu Pemangku Bendahari memohon maaf di atas kelewatan bagi menyiapkan kedua-dua laporan sebelum mesyuarat Agung direncanakan (Fasal 13.4) 'Mesyuarat Agung Tiga Tahun Sekali hendaklah diadakan tidak lewat dari tarikh 30 Jun tiap-tiap (3) tahun sekali di tempat yang akan ditetapkan oleh Majlis'. Oleh kerana Mesyuarat Agung Tiga Tahun Sekali telah diadakan pada 25 Julai 2009 yang mana Notis Mesyuarat Agung bertarikh 10 Julai 2009 yang diedarkan adalah tanpa persetujuan Mesyuarat Majlis terbukti tidak sah sama sekali. Malahan saya dalam proses menyiapkan laporan 2006 hingga Jun 2009 untuk diauditkan 2 orang Juruaudit yang dilantik semasa Mesyuarat Agung pada 22 Januari 2006 lalu.

3. Sepanjang pengetahuan, selaku Pemangku Bendahari Kehormat, tiada seorang Ahli termasuk Ahli Majlis selain saya sendiri yang telah menjelaskan yuran tahunan sebanyak Rm5.00 selewatnya 1 Februari setiap tahun (rujuk Fasal 7.1 dan 7.2). Difahamkan pada mesyuarat Agung (25 Julai 2009) penganjur telah menerima Borang Keahlian Baru bersama Yuran sebanyak Rm5.00, walhal, kebenaran itu melanggar peraturan Perlembagaan (Fasal 7.1 dan 7.2). Untuk makluman, saya telah hadir Mesyuarat Pre-Council 20 Julai 2009 dengan dibekalkan Minit Mesyuarat Majlis 13 Julai 2009 di bawah tajuk MENETAPKAN TARIKH MESYUARAT AGUNG (minit dilampirkan).
Disamping itu, Pemangku Setiausaha Kehormat, Haji Fazin Haji Saad memaklumkan penerimaan surat daripada Pejabat Pesuruhjaya Sukan Malaysia (PPSM) memberi notis supaya PBKL mengemukakan maklumat Mesyuarat Agung selewat-lewatnya sebelum 30 Julai 2009.

4. Bagaimanapun, saya ingin menyentuh bebertapa peraturan Perlembagaan yang bertentangan semasa Mesyuarat Agung 25 Julai 2009; contohnya, penerimaan ahli secara segera atau (on the spot membership); barisan ahli majlis dipilih telah didapati tidak hadir mahu pun mengemukakan surat pengesahan penerimaan jawatan masing-masing. Pada pendapat saya yang melibatkan diri dalam PBKL selama 17 tahun, melihat wujudnya politiking dalaman demi kepentingan pihak-pihak tertentu dengan agenda peribadi tersirat akan hancur lebur dalam masa terdekat ini. Oleh hal demikian, terserahlah kepada pihak Pejabat Pesuruhjaya Sukan Malaysia (PPSM) bertindak segera demi menyelamatkan sitiuasi yang melanda sekarang.

5. Akhirkata, saya berjanji menunaikan tanggungjawab ini dengan menyiapkan laporan-laporan tersebut untuk Mesyuarat Agung Tiga Tahun Sekali yang sah diadakan.

Sekian, terima kasih
Saya yang benar,
Haj Badri Haji Mukri
Pemangku Bendahari Kehormat
Ahli Biasa (Yuran dijelaskan).

What's happening OCM?

Sometime late last year, Bhoopinder Singh, a parent who has three tennis playing children, asked Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) to intervene and assist them in the many issues they were facing in the sport.

I believe Bhoopinder came to OCM because he would have read statements with regards to the desire of OCM to take part in solving disputes in sports. Also, OCM has always had committee tasked to do just that, but, according to some people, not doing it yet.

In a letter dated 6 January 2009, Honorary Secreyary, Dato' Sieh Kok Chi wrote a letter to the head of the committee Dato' R. Rathnasingam, informing him of the request by Bhoopinder and asked, "is it possible, to arrange a meeting with Bhoopinder?"

Almost seven months has passed and the silence probably means the "is it possible" is not possible, hopefully for now.

The last things we want to hear in sports are about committees that function seasonaly. We obviously do like letters that are written for the sake of writting and and we just can' t stand drama-style response to genuine problems.

After waiting this long, Bhoopinder and parents like him, should take his problems to authorities who will go out of their way to assist him.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

New President for KLCA

Former cyclist, Abdul Malik Mydin was elected unopposed as the President of the Kuala Lumpur Cycling Association (KLCA) at the associations's tri-annual general meeting in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

Abdul Malik replaces Tan Sri Mohamad Noor Abdul Rahim (picture) who quit last week when he found our that notices have been snt out without his knowledge, mand worse still, without the consent of the council, as require by the constitution.

Zulkifli Ibrahim was elected Deputy President, replacing the founder of KLCA, Daud Abu Kassim, who did not attend the meeting. The three Vice Presidents elected were Jaafar Sidek, Rolan Abd Rahman and Abd Razak Jaafar.

As expected Haji Fazin Haji Saad was appointed Honorary Secretary by the newly elected President.

The meeting may have ended but the Sports Commisioner's office is likely to look into the various issues that were reported to them before the meeting. Well, another long battle is in store for us.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Cycling: The race begins

The battle for posts in the Malaysian National Cycling Federation (MNCF) has started and surprisingly, Kuala Lumpur is the first affiliate to feel the heat.

The first casualty of the race is Tan Sri Mohamad Noor Abdul Rahim who resigned as the President of Kuala Lumpur Cycling Association (KLCA) on last Friday.

He made the decision after acting Honorary Secretary, Haji Fazin Haji Saad issued a notice calling for a tri-annual General Meeting, to be held on 25 July at the Kuala Lumpur Velodrome.

Mohamad Noor was upset that he was not consulted and the matter was also not discussed at the previous council meeting. The last tri-annual meeting was held on 22 January 2006.

The move by Fazin, said to have the support of some of the council members in Kuala Lumpur, also caught the Deputy President, Daud Abu Kassim (picture) by surprised.

Daud, the founder and life member of KLCA, was surprised when informed that the Sports Commisioner's office has given the approval for the meeting to be held, even though the council has not given the green light.

Daud, who would also not be attending the meeting, has conveyed to the Sports Commisioner's office of the questionable move by Fazin and his supporters.

Among the questions raised were:

1. The approval of the council was not obtained before the notice of the tri-annual General Meeting was send to the members. The acting Honorary Secretary had a meeting with the Sports Commisioner's officers on 9 July and subsequently on 10 July, he sent out the notice stating that the tri-annual General Meeting would be held on 25 July;
2. The Financial report from 2006 to June 2009 has not been audited as required by the constitution;
3. There is a possibility the acting honorary secretary may bring in many "new members" who will pay their fees (Rm5) before the meeting and this contravenes the constitution which clearly states that fees must be paid not later than 1 February.
4. Fadzin Saad was appointed as the acting honorary secretary six months ago and he himself has not payed up the fees.

Daud urged the Sports Commisioners office to look into this problem and take the necessary steps to retify the situation. And knowing Daud, a veteran of 30 years in cycling, he will not let anyone destroy KLCA, an association he has looked after all these years.

Meanwhile, cycling sources say that this move by Fazin is to establish himself in KLCA with the intention of contesting for a post in the Malaysian National Cycling Federation (MNCF). The national body is expected to hold its Annual General Meeting some time in December this year.

Fazin is said to be keen to contest for one of the four Vice Presidents post. Sources say that he approached Kedah to support but was told that someone in Kedah also wants to contest.
Therefore he moved to KLCA and plans to make it his base for the time being.

Fazin and the official from Kedah are part of a third group that wants to see some changes in the national body. At this juncture, it is not known if anyone from the national leadership is sympathetic towards this group.

The other group are the challengers, who have made some in-roads into state affiliates and of course, the final group are the office bearers.

What ever it is, what happens in KL from tomorrow will give an indication as to the route the race is taking. In this race there are no Commisiares, only racers and supporters.

APC hopes for better colloboration in Asia

The Asian Paralympic Committee (APC) is still hoping for more colloboration with Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) in the near future.
Datuk Zainal Abu Zahrin (picture), President of Malaysian Paralympic Council (MPM) feels that, with better colloboration, both parties would benefit in terms of sport as well as sponsorships.
Right now, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has a good working relationship with the International Paralympic Committee (IPC).
Under this colloboration, countries interested in hosting Olympic games, would have to submit a bid for both the summer games as well as the paralimpiad and one organizing committee for both the games.
"We are hoping for the same type of colloboration in Asia. I represented the APC and submitted this proposal during the OCA board meeting in Bali, Indonesia last year. They said they will look into it, but till today we have not receive any reply," said Datuk Zainal.
Datuk Zainal, like many other officials involved in paralympic sport, feels OCA may be reluctant to colloborate mainly due to business reasons.
Probably OCA feels the para games might steal some of the lime light, or worse, some of the sponsorship.
There was some pressure on the 2010 Asian Games host, Guangzhou when the city agreed to host an Asian Para Games, back-to-back with the Asian Games. But things have improved, said Datuk Zainal, and right now the attitude is "you do your games and we do our games".
"We are hoping for a better colloboration in the near future,"added Zainal.
The Guangzhou games would be the first Asian Para Games. Previously, the games were known as the Asia-Pacific Para Games.

UAE wants more football

Japan have already lost hosting rights for the FIFA Club World Cup to UAE and may be about to lose the Asian Champions League final to the West Asian nation.
The UAE Football Association (UAE FA) have announced that they want the 2010 decider.
The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) have invited bids for the continental showpiece and with UAE hosting FIFA’s club event, the facilities are already in place.
There is one fly in the ointment however. Earlier this year, UAE league club Sharjah unilaterally withdrew from the continental competition, much to the displeasure of the AFC.
The National reported Abdullah Yousuf, the general secretary of the UAEFA, as saying, “We have not discussed this at an official level yet.”
“We will wait till we receive an official communication from the AFC and then we will see.
“First we will have to sit down with Pro League and discuss it with them. But I think we have all the facilities and we would certainly be interested.”
The deadline to throw hats into the ring is December 6.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Thailand 1 Liverpool 1

Liverpool's Ryan Babe(L) vies with Thailand's Nattapong during their friendly football match at the Rajamangala Stadium in Bangkok.

A great second-half strike by Sutee Suksomkit earned Thailand a well-deserved 1-1 draw with Premier League giants Liverpool in a pre-season game here on Wednesday.

Sutee's goal cancelled out an early opener from Ryan Babel which Liverpool failed to capitalise on.

There was little goalmouth action to excite the capacity 76,000 crowd with Liverpool looking decidedly ring-rusty.

The Premier League runners-up have still to win in their pre-season travels following a 0-0 draw with St Gallen of Switzerland and a 1-0 loss to Rapid Vienna.

"We had some chances, we were playing against a team that was well organised and they play quick," said Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez.

"So you come to a new continent and conditions are different, always more difficult, but I was pleased with the performance of some players and also pleased to see the national team (of Thailand) play well."

Benitez was left to rue a hamstring injury picked up by defender Martin Skrtel early in the second half but said he was not sure how long the Slovak would be out of action.

"Really disappointed because Martin has a had a problem with his hamstring and a little bit with the ligaments on the knee, so we have to wait," he said.

Thailand coach Peter Reid, who starred for Liverpool?s local rivals Everton in his heyday, was overjoyed with the result.

"We passed the ball really well and it was great to get a good equaliser," he said. "Liverpool are a strong team and it was a great experience for the Thailand team to play against them."

As expected, Liverpool?s Spanish contingent did not feature in the starting line-up with Real Madrid target Xabi Alonso not even on the bench, heightening speculation that he will soon be on the move.

Dutch duo Dirk Kuyt and Babel, stand-in captain Jamie Carragher, Daniel Agger and Brazilian midfielder Lucas Leiva were the most recognisable names in the team.

The highly rated Krisztian Nemeth and David Ngog formed the strike partnership with Fernando Torres named as one of the substitutes.

Thailand could have sprung a surprise after just two minutes, playmaker Datsakorn Thonglao sidefooting a weak clearance from keeper Diego Cavalieri just wide.

Liverpool opened the scoring in the simplest fashion four minutes later. A long ball from Carragher at first eluded Babel but he steadied and shot low into the net.

Babel should have grabbed his own and Liverpool?s second in the 20th minute, shooting tamely past the post after an exquisite through-ball from Lucas.

The last real action of a lacklustre first half saw Datsakorn fire a free-kick just over the top.

Benitez changed virtually the whole team for the second half with goalscorer Babel the sole survivor. But there was still no start for Torres despite calls from the full-house Rajamanagala Stadium.

Midfielder Javier Mascherano had a rasping drive from distance saved in the 62nd minute as Liverpool pushed forward for a second goal.

Thailand drew level in the 72nd minute after a well-worked move, substitute Sutee playing a one-two with Teerasil Dangda before finishing off with a left foot strike.

The spectators finally got their wish in the 80th minute when Torres and fellow Spaniard Albert Riera came on as substitutes.

Andriy Voronin, back with Liverpool after a loan spell with Hertha Berlin, should have sealed the issue for the Premier League side but shot wide from a good position. - Report and picture from Agencies.

Work on it, MHF

The Premier League-Malaysian Hockey League (MHL) is expected to start in November after all matters are finalised, said president of the Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah.
High standards in domestic competition would definitely help the national team performances and this Premier League, if planned well, could lift up hockey to a commendable level in the near future.
"Till now, we are in the process of fine-tuning the league," said Tengku Abdullah (picture) at a news conference after the launch of the UniKL-IBIL hockey team at Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL), Wednesday.
According to Tengku Abdullah with the participation of the UniKL-IBIL team there will be seven teams. However he hoped that another team would be put up for the MHL Premier League.
Earlier, he witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for professional training between UniKL and IBIL (M) Sdn Bhd and Juniper Network Malaysia as well as a MoU and sponsorship documents signing between IBIL and Universal Fitness and Leisure Sdn Bhd (UFL).
There are three qualifying rounds for the World Cup that will be held in Lille, France from Oct 31-Nov 8 and Invercargill, New Zealand from Nov 7-15. In another development, Tengku Abdullah said the MHF had established a discipline committee at the MHF meeting on July 18.
"The issue of players' discipline (that received admonition from the National Sports Council) will be deliberated on by the committee and disciplinary action may be taken against them," he said.
It is understood that two hockey players had flouted rules when training at the NSC in June in preparation for the Champions Challenge II in Dublin, Ireland that was on July 6-12.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Lesson from Manila

THE Philippine Olympic Committee guaranteed Tuesday it will support all the national sports associations competing in the 25th Southeast Asian Games that will not be given financial assistance by the Philippines Sports Commission (PSC).

According to a Manila Times report, Olympic body President Jose “Peping” Cojuangco Jr. told 25 sports association representatives during a meeting Tuesday that his agency has allocated P50,000 to P60,000 per athlete, which could be availed if the sports commission does not give them support.

“For those sports which will not be supported by the PSC, we will take care of them for this SEA Games,” he said.

“We also encourage all NSAs [sports associations] to look for their respective godfathers because that P50,000 thousand per athlete might not be enough to sustain their expenses in Laos,” said SEA Games Chief of Mission Mario Tanchangco.

The 25 sports associations present in the meeting held at Cojuangco’s resident in Makati city were table tennis, boxing, archery, aquatics, cycling, karate, tennis, football, golf, fin swimming, billiards, judo, athletics, muay thai, pencak silat, sepak takraw, shooting, volleyball, wushu, Petangque, wrestling, weightlifting, tae kwon do and shuttle cock.

Soft tennis will also be played in Laos as a demonstration sport.

Unlike other sports associations, cycling and boxing have their respective godfathers in businessmen Mikee Romero and telecoms titan Manny Pangilinan.

Cojuangco also said sports associations should take the opportunity to prove the projection of Sports commission Chairman Harry Angping that the country could win only 15 to 20 gold medals in the SEA Games.

Go, the president of athletics, explained that swimming, athletics and another sport can easily win 20 gold medals for the country in the biennial meet.

Rebranding for 'Harimau Malaya'

The Ministry of Youth and Sports hope to rebrand the National Jersey "Harimau Malaya" (Malayan Tiger) donned by the Malaysian contingents at international events to form a supporters group for the 'Road to London 2012'.
Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Ahmad Shabery Cheek (picture) said the rebranding exercise would be launched by year end to project a single identity wear that can be proudly worn by athletes and supporters.
"We want Malaysians to be proud when they wear the 'Harimau Muda' attire just like what footballs fans of teams like Manchester United who come in the team's kit," he told reporters in PutraJaya, Tuesday.
The national jersey, which has black tiger stripes motif on a yellow background, was unveiled by the then Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak on Nov 14, 2005 in time for the Manila SEA Games.
Since then, national athletes and officials going for competitions abroad, used the attire which draws instant recognition as Malaysian participants.
Ahmad Shabery said, in efforts to win the country's first gold medal in the Olympics, the 'Road to London 2012' programme will be a significant one to garner support from fans towards achieving the objective.
"Staring 2010, we will have about two years to ensure the 'Malayan Tigers' attire becomes a household attire in line with the 1Malaysia concept," he said.
He added that with strong support from the fans and the inspiration derived when wearing the attire, can spur national athletes their gold medal quest, especially in sports like badminton, archery and cycling.
Though the main target for the gold is from badminton, archery and cycling are also capable of producing gold medal performances, he said.
Meanwhile, the term Paralympic Sports will now be used in place of 'Disabled Sports' when referring to games participated by people with a special disability.
"As of today, we have agreed to refer disabled sports as Paralympic Sports and it will be streamlined at all levels. As such, it will be used at all levels, be it district, state or national," said Ahmad Shabery Cheek.
He added that the Malaysian Paralympics Council (MPC) would be notified of the new development.

Monday, July 20, 2009

2014 World Cup: Tough for weak teams

The AFC Competitions Committee has decided to use the present qualification format for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

The top five teams from the 2010 FIFA World Cup will be given direct entry into the third round while the remaining 38 teams will play home and away in the opening round.

The 11 highest-ranked teams from the second round will be given direct entry into the third round while the lowest eight teams will qualify for Round 2.

After playing home-and-away in the second round, four winners will join the top five teams and 11 qualifiers in the third round where they will be divided into five groups of four teams each.

The winners and runners of each group will qualify for the final round where the 10 teams will be divided into two groups of five teams each.

The group winners and runners-up will make it to the 2014 FIFA World Cup while the third-placed team in each group will be engaged in a two-tiered play-off for a place in the Finals.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Its confirmed: Match No 2 in KL

Manchester United will play a second match against Malaysian XI, Monday at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil. This is as a replacement for the match against Indonesian All Stars which were cancelled as a result of two bom blasts in Jakarta, Friday.
Meanwhile, here is the report of the first match. This report, by Christopher Raj, was published in his blog JaihoMalaysia.
The narrow 2-3 defeat by the Malaysian side against Manchester United was a result of a 'no fear mentality' instilled among his players said coach K. Rajagobal, Saturday.
"After undergoing several weeks of training at the Trafford Training Centre in Carrinton (Manchester United's official training ground) several years ago, Sir Bobby Charlton always focused on "No Fear In Football" which has motivated my style of management," he said.
Despite the English Premier Champion scoring two quick goals through Wayne Rooney and Nani in the first-half, the Malaysian side, made up of mainly Under-23 players, showed a great deal of determination in the match."During the first-half break, I told the players to play with urgency in the second half. I also told them that there should be no fear in football, even when facing a formidable side like Manchester United," said Rajagobal, who admitted that changing too many players when the score was tied 2-2, had changed the complexion of the match and outcome.
"We made too many changes and that cost us the match when newly signed striker Micheal Owen scored the winner," he said.Nevertheless, Rajagobal was happy with his side's performance."In the rematch on Monday, the narrow defeat will further motivate them to perform even better than today," said Rajagobal who is expected to maintain the same line-up.
Meanwhile, Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson was awed by the speed, open play and enthusiasm displayed by the Malaysian side."It was nice when we were leading 2-0 early in the first half but were surprised by Malaysia's first goal.
"Then, into the second half, I noticed that Malaysian players were more determined and played with high enthusiasm, particularly, in ball possession," said Ferguson or fondly known as Fergie.
The tour is the Carling Cup and World Cup Club champions' fourth trip to Malaysia, after 1991, 1995 and 2001 when they hammered a Malaysian side 6-0.
Asked about the Malaysian team's improved performance, Alex said: "Absolutely, it has improved since the last tour and that is good."

Friday, July 17, 2009

MU cancels trip to Jakarta

Manchester United will not be playing the Indonesian national team on Monday. The decision to cancel the Jakarta leg of the 2009 pre-season tour was made after bom attacks rocked the capital city on Friday.

Two hotels were the target of the terror attacks - JW Marriot Hotel and Ritz Carlton, where the red devils were due to stay. The Indonesian team were staying at the Marriot. A presidential spokesman said that nine people were killed in the deadly attacks.

"The Directors have informed the All Indonesia Football Association that Manchester United cannot fulfil the fixture in Jakarta. We are deeply dissapointed at not being able to visit Indonesia and than the Indonesian FA and our fans for their support. Our thoughts go to all those affected by the blasts," said a statement from the club.

The Tour of Asia by the Rede Devils consisted of four fixtures, starting with a game against Malaysia XI Saturday, against Indonesian All Stars on Monday, FC Seoul in South Korea on July 24 and Hangzhou Greentown in China two days later

United's Chief Executive Officer David Gill said: "We have taken the appropriate advice. We nhave met with the British High Commission who are highly experienced in these matters. It is not a decision we have taken lightly. We were aware of the situation but we spoke to the right people and received the correct advice."

United Manager, Alex Ferguson said that he was shock with the news of the terror attacks but the club had no other option but the safeguard their players.

Old attitudes manifests in MHF

Hockey used to be one of my favourite beat in the 1980s. Probably it was because of Dato' G. Vijayanathan (picture), the long serving Secretary of the Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF). His office - Jabatan Pelajaran Wilayah Persekutuan - in Jalan Raja Muda was a common stop for many of us from the media.
He always had some information to give. He was one of the few General Secretaries in Malaysian sports who knew what was newsworthy.
He answers all calls, he entertains everyone who came to his office or wants to meet him at the stalls downstairs.
Viji, as he is known to many, always attended to the needs of the media. I remember an incident during the 1982 Junior World Cup in Kuala Lumpur where a group of people were asking him for some favours but he told them, that he has to look into the needs of the media first, before assisting them.
During one MHF Annual General Meeting (AGM) held at Hotel Merlin (now Concorde) in Kuala Lumpur, we saw Viji running out with tears in his eyes. A couple of minutes later, the President Sultan Azlan Shah followed and had a chat with him.
Viji told his boss, he had enough of "them". Them here refers to some people at the meeting who were just finding faults with him, some even were questioning him about "commas and full stops" in his report to the congress.
Viji resigned in 1985, after serving MHF, Asian Hockey Federation (AHF) and International Hockey Federation (FIH) for 26 years.
I began to recollect what MHF was like those days after reading about some new problems that seem to have cropped up.
You can read about this problems in Ghandi's blog here.
After reading through the blog and speaking to some friends, I realised that these were not new problem, just old attitudes that were not dealt with in the past. And, this attitudes are manifesting again, to destroy hockey,
The affiliates and officials seem to have carried the old habits with them all these years. The new officials seem to have inherited the old way of thinking, which focusses on the "commas and full stops" and not on hockey.
Everone come for a meeting with a list of "why's" and not "let's do it" attitude. Its always "Why this, why that, why him"....the point actually is "why not me or my friend". This is old story and this old story will destroy MHF if the evil is not dealt with sternly.
I believe MHF and its affiliates should give Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah a free hand in bringing about a much needed change, especially in the mindset of the so called hockey experts.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Soosay is AFC Sec Gen


Soosay (left) with Al Sabah

Alexander Soosay of Malaysia was confirmed by the AFC Executive Committee as the new General Secretary of the Asian football governing body in Kuala Lumpur.

Soosay, 48, takes over from Dato Seri Paul Mony Samuel whose resignation was accepted by the AFC Executive Committee.

AFC Assistant General Secretary and Director of Education Hasan Al Sabah of Bahrain, 47, has been promoted to the position of Deputy General Secretary.

Soosay headed the administration in the capacity of the Acting General Secretary in the recent past when Dato Seri Paul Mony Samuel was recuperating on sick leave.

Both the new General Secretary and Deputy General Secretary are respected in football circles worldwide for their knowledge of the game and the practical aspects involved in running it.

Soosay is an AFC veteran, having headed several key departments during his 14-year-long career. The Malaysian has played and coached at the national level and was Executive Secretary of the Negeri Sembilan Football Association before joining AFC in 1994.

Well-known as a hands-on organiser, Soosay was involved in the AFC Asian Cups of 1996, 2000, 2004 and 2007, and the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Championship, 2001 FIFA Confederations Cup and the 2002 FIFA World Cup.

Al Sabah is known for establishing AFC’s Education Policies and ushering in a new era of learning. The former Bahrain national team player holds a BA in Physical Education and a Professional Diploma in Coaching from UEFA/AFC and is a veteran FIFA Course Coordinator and FIFA Coaching Technical Advisor.

Al Sabah joined AFC in 2004 and has risen steadily since then.

The Zimbabwean headache

The friendlies may not attract the crowd but the coutroversy surrouding the visit by the soccer team from Zimbabwe has surely become an interesting issue. Christopher Raj writes about this issue here.
So, is this the national team or a club side called Monomotapa? And who paid for their trip to Kuala Lumpur?
The Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) should clarify, the sooner the better.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Can somebody do something about this?

Dear YAM Tunku,

The OCM's victorious office bearers seem to have taken a new approach to olympic ideals and ethics, judging from the contents of the OCM Highlights posted on 7th June 09. I am totally disappointed. Olympism says "accept victory with humility" not "humiliate the losers - and if needs be use generalisations and half-truths to achieve your objective".
OCM talks about people bad-mouthing, lying , slandering,and making disparaging remarks against incumbent office-bearers. But people in sport know that it was certain high profile OCM officials who were doing this. There are even written materials, e-mails and media releases to this YAM effect, especially from the Hon Sec. In fact the Hon. Sec. has even said he will destroy anyone who stood in his way. Obviously, OCM's concept of values, ethics and fairplay are different from the IOC's.
During the lead-up to the AGM, I had ample opportunities to "lie, slander and bad-mouth" and also expose a few hidden truths that would have been worse than the lies and slander. I did not do this despite the pressure from several quarters including the media. This was just because I thought it would have reflected very badly on your leadership, YAM Tunku, your Deputy's and that of a few other innocent people on the Board.
The media was ready to run some juicy stories.
The OCM Highlights boast about the "good track-records, honesty, integrity and dedicaion" of the incumbent office-bearers. While this may be true of a few of them, the rest have to rely on half-truths, generalisations and exaggerations to boost their achievements.
"All the candidates who challenged the incumbents...failed to contribute any or minimum benefits to sports development or the organisations they served."
I don't go round boasting about the things that I do ... in fact I never talk about it. But if needs be I can draw up a list for the Board. Anyway what has the Hon. Sec. to show after more than 2 decades in OCM and its corridors of power? (For those whom the truth matters, it will be interesting to find out why he was bundled out of ASUM when he was its Sec Gen and what he did when he was pushed out.)
You don't have to be a geat psychologist to determine the psyche of the Hon Sec OCM. Anyone can tell you that his is the mind of a DESTROYER not a BUILDER. He cannot build, he can only destroy. Because he cannot build, he has to destroy what others build so that he can remain OCM's SUPREME LEADER controlling everything and ensuring everyone depends on him.
He has now become so obsessed and hungry for power that he now uses half-truths and lies to
achieve his objective. If that doesn't work, he will shout, scream, fight, quarrel, abuse, etc until everyone either agrees with him or runs for cover including some members of the Board!
The OCM's new rules and definitions on ethics, values and fair-play are certainly okay as we are now clear how the game is to be played. It will now mean that the bad-mouthing, slandering and mud-slinging will also be directed at the OCM. There may be no holds barred and a lot of people can be dragged to the mud.
Its ok with me. I am not very high above the mud and my fall will hardly make a splash. I don't even consider myself news-worthy. It will certainly not be the same for the OCM leaders sitting on the high pedestals of national and international bodies ... IOC, CGF, OCA, NSAs, etc.
This is not a threat by any chance.
But I am disappointed, sad and angry about what the OCM has become.
Instead of becoming more and more indifferent, let's hope that the OCM leadership takes control and acts responsibly. Let's hope that we use the IOC concept of ethics which is built round JUSTICE, HONESTY, RESPONSIBILITY AND BENEFICIENCE, and not what is being practiced by the DSKC school of management.

Thank you for your patience.

Note: This letter appeared in some blogs earlier. I was not sure whether to post it or not because it would do no good. That's the state of affairs, for now.

LTdL in trouble again?

The staging of the 2009 Tour de Langkawi (LTdL) is reported to have incurred debts amounting to almost RM4 million.
Sources say that the organizers of the premier cycling event are having difficulty in making payments and have requested for aid from the Government. The Ministry of Youth and Sport funded the 2009 race with a grant of RM7 million.
Reliable sources say the organizers require at least another RM4 million to settle all debts. Cycling experts say they hear that the Ministry is considering taking over the organization of the race next year.
At this point, it is cannot be confirmed if a company would be appointed to run the event or the Ministry itself will take on the responsibility with Malaysian National Cycling Federation (MNCF) providing the technical and expertise.
I tried to contact the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the 2009 event, Datuk Naim Mohamed (picture) for comments but could not reach him.
About three years ago, the MNCF received RM20 million to run the LTdL, which has helped promote Malaysia internationally.
Many commentators felt the amount was too big for an event which, say some of them, could be organized with a RM10 million budget.

Tennis: Malaysia beat Kuwait

Former national champion Si Yew Ming was on track as Malaysia sealed their campaign with a 3-1 win over Kuwait in the Davis Cup BNP Tie Group II Asia/Oceania Zone 2009 clash at the National Tennis Centre in Kuala Lumpur, Sunday.
Yew Ming had minimal problems defeating Kuwaiti player Hassan Al Moussa 6-2, 6-1, 6-1 in under two hours in the singles event. The second singles match was called off after the Kuwaiti team decided not to field their player who is injured.
The win ensures Malaysia stays in Group II of the tournament.
An elated Yew Ming credited the team for his excellent performance throughout the three day tournament.
“It was a team effort. We all played our parts well,” said Yew Ming.
“It’s a whole new experience for me in the Davis Cup and everything is going well. We’re getting better after every tournament and it’s a good sign.”
Yew Ming stressed he will continue training hard to improve his playing ability.
“The schedule is not finalised yet so I’m not too sure what’s next for us. It’s back to training for now.”
National coach S.Selvarajoo wore a smile right after Yew Ming handed Malaysia’s winning point.
“I’m very happy with Yew Ming’s performance. Special mention to the Lawn Tennis Association of Malaysia president (Datuk Abdul Razak Latiff) for placing his faith in us.
“It would be my dream to see a Malaysian play in the Grand Slam. Judging by our consistent performance and the establishment of a junior academy, I’m confident we’ll be able to do it in the near future.”
“We thank the supporters and the local Media for your contribution. We couldn’t have done it without you all,” added Selvarajoo. The event was hosted by LTAM.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Zainu'l the blogger

My friend Mr. Zainu'l Azhar Asha'ri is now a blogger and his blog is ZoNBeBaS. Not sure why he chosed that name, probably because he stays near a Free Trade Zone in Penang. I have known Zainul for a long time and worked with him at Utusan Melayu/Malaysia Sports Desk in the 90s. Read his postings here.

For Pete's sake, hasten your pace

Sports Commissioner Datuk Nik Mahmud Nik Yusof has asked ad-hoc committee that was formed to resolve the Malaysian Taekwondo Association (MTA) crisis to expedite the setting up of a new MTA.
"I have sent a letter to the ad-hoc committee on Monday to speed up the process. Even Youth and Sports minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek was not happy with the ad-hoc committee's pace in handling the matter.
"I want the ad-hoc committee to give us a time frame to hold the Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) and Annual General Meeting (AGM) so that the issue can be resolved quickly," Nik Mahmud told Bernama after handing out registration certificates to 20 sports associations and sports clubs in Kuala Lumpur, Friday.
Among those who received their certificates were Motorsports Association of Malaysia, Aikido Association of Malaysia, Selangor and Federal Territory Extreme Sports Associations and Petaling Jaya Silambam Club.
Nik Mahmud was confident that the new initiative and development would help resolve MTA's issues so that national athletes can continue to compete at international competitions.
The ad-hoc committee, chaired by Olympic Council of Malaysia President Tunku Tan Sri Imran Tuanku Ja'afar, also comprises representatives of MTA, rival bodies, the Malaysian Taekwondo Federation and the Malaysian Taekwondo Club Association, National Sports Council and the Sports and Education ministries.
"The committee will be tasked to formulate a new constitution to get the national body back on its feet, application of new members and the holding of an election to elect new office bearers," he said.
During MTA's crisis in 2004, its President Jimmy Choo tendered his resignation while the then Sports Commissioner Tan Sri Elyas Omar deregistered the association in 2005 although former Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said decided to reinstate MTA's status after an appeal.
However, Nik Mahmud suspended MTA indefinitely, pending the formulation of a new constitution by an ad-hoc committee.
He wants the MTA, embroiled in constitution, membership and leadership disputes since June 2004 and which led to its initial suspension in 2005, to start a new.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

SEA Games every four years

Indonesia wants the South East Asian (SEA) Games --currently a biennial event-- to be held every four years, chairwoman of the Indonesian Sports Council (KONI) Rita Subowo said in Jakarta recently.
Rita told that the two years were not enough for participating countries to prepare their teams.
She said that if SEA Games were held quadrennially, the SEA Youth Games would be held in between two SEA Games events.
“SEA Youth Games is an important event to prepare regional junior athlete to compete the Asian Youth Games.”
Subowo is expected to bring this matter at the next meeting of the SEA Games Federation.

Newcastle: Two Malaysian groups interested

Billionaire T. Ananda Krishnan has denied that companies owned by him have expressed interest in purchasing English football club, Newcastle United, according to news reports today (Thursday).
The past two weeks, various newspapers from Malaysia, Singapore and United Kingdom reported that Ananda was leading a Malaysian consortium of investors in talks with owner Mike Ashley to takeover Newcastle, a club which has a large fan base.
Ashley's asking price is RM570 million. But, the problem with the club is its high annual wages bill, said to be almost RM400 million.
A statement from Ananda's Usaha Tegas Sdn Bhd on Wednesday, refuted the reports which speculated the billionaire's interest.
However, those in the football circle say there is another Malaysian group which has expressed interest in buying the English club, who were relegated from the Premier League last season.
The second group is said to be led by former Malaysian Finance Minister, Tun Daim Zainuddin.
The British media had reported that representatives of several interested consortium have recently inspected Newcastle's stadium and training ground.
A Singapore based consortium with former Newcastle chairman Freddy Shepherd is also interested in purchasing Newcastle.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

You've done well, Mr. Chua

Here is a letter from Mr. Chua Ah Tok (seen in picture above with IOA Director, Isidiro Kouvelos). The contents are self explanatory and and it gives a clear indication of the worsening state of affairs in some sections of sports in the country.

To Hon. Secretaries
National Sports Federations

Dear Friends,

It is with a heavy heart that I write this. As you know, I have been the Director of the National Olympic Academy (NOA) of Malaysia for more than 15 years. I have been conducting Olympic Academy Sessions every year for the last twelve years and many of you have been sending participants to the academy very regularly. Some of you who have sent really good participants have been fortunate enough to have your candidate selected to represent Malaysia at IOA in Olympia, Greece or for the many other trips to USA, Korea, Chinese Taipei, Singapore, Turkey, etc.
I have been also conducting more than 45 IOC Olympic Solidarity Sports Administration Courses for officials and coaches all over the country. Many of you may have attended these courses. I have enjoyed teaching and sharing with you my knowledge and experience. I hope you enjoyed it as well and I hope you gained from the experience.
I would also like to mention that I have also initiated the establishment of the Nilai UC – OCM scholarship for former and current national athletes. Through this programme, Nilai University College currently offers 5 scholarships per year for athletes who meet the entry requirement of MQA. Many former athletes like Carol Lucia (Track & Field), Loke Teng Kee (Volleyball), Harwinder Singh (Archery), Senathiraj (Cricket) Eng Chin Wai (Taekwondo), Daniel Lim (Sailing) and Leong Zhi Weng (Chess) have benefitted from this scholarship scheme.
I wonder how many other OCM Committee have done this much for athletes and young leaders for their tertiary education.
I shall now have to give up my involvement in the NOA as the OCM feels that at 64 years I am too old to run the academy! Of course, other Directors of Academies all over the world are mostly in the 70s. But then, as you know OCM is a young Council and does not have “oldies” in its ranks!
The OCM has also decided to ask all NOAs, to submit nominations to replace me.
That is OK with me, but I hope you will give your nominations serious choice. Remember that it is for the Director of the Academy. He should be strong in sport and have a strong academic background with a clear understanding of Olympism, Olympic values and Olympic education. He must also have strong organizational and presentation skills.
In the NOA we established a succession plan some years ago. As I am too old to continue as Director (according to OCM Board) I would like to suggest that Dr. Leo Ann Mean (he is about 60 years) be nominated to succeed me.
Dr Leo has been actively involved with the Academy from the beginning. He is an outstanding educationist. He was Associate Professor in the Faculty of Education, University of Malaya and is Adjunct Professor for a number of foreign universities in Malaysia. He has written many books and lectured at international conferences and seminars. He was also a good athlete (represented Malaysia in Fencing in the SEA Games) and a former Hon. Secretary of the Malaysian Fencing Association. He will ensure that the Academy will continue to do the good work it has been doing – in fact I believe he will take it to greater heights. Please say ‘No’ to political appointments and nominate someone who has the capacity to make Malaysia proud.
If I am too old at 64 to be the Director, then I believe the OCM will consider my Secretary, M.P. Haridas also too old to hold the post he has been holding from the very beginning. He is already 71 (born in the same year as Dato Sieh Kok Chi, the Hon. Secretary of OCM) so he must be too old. The succession plan for the Secretary of the NOA has also been in place for some time. Our plan was to groom Dr Shamala Subramaniam of MWHA to take over as secretary as soon as she was ready.
An educationist attached to University Pertanian Malaysia, a former National hockey player, the current MWHA Secretary and outstanding NOA participant who received special recognition from the IOA, I believe she will be a great choice!
The choice is entirely yours but please make wise choice for the future of the Academy and Malaysian sport.
For more information on the appointment of the NOA Director, you can read a special feature “Pierre De Coubertin of Asia” in this blog. Kindly read and give comments.
Once again I would like to thank you for all the support that was given to me all these years and I hope that we will have the opportunity to work together in future projects.

Best wishes,

Director (1994-2009)
National Olympic Academy of Malaysia

Monday, July 6, 2009

Waiting for answers from MNCF

The national road and track cycling programs will be getting a long awaited boost in a deal that will provide the National Sports Council (NSC) with massive savings with Australia's Teschner Technologies Group as bike suppliers, according to a New Straits Times report today.
The report, written by Arnaz M. Khairul and quoting none other than Malaysian National Cycling Federation (MNCF) deputy president, Datuk Naim Mohamed (picture), added that years of questionable sums spent by the NSC on purchase of bicycles from local suppliers will be somewhat calmed in a deal that now awaits the official approval of the national body.
While any move at reducing wasteful spending would definitely be lauded, however this particular move has raised some eyebrows, especially among the cycling fraternity.
The questions which need to be answered include who were the local suppliers supplying at presumably high cost, and the next query would definitely be was there a proper tender procedure before the said local company was selected as a supplier?
At a time when people want transparency, people are curious about these deals and many other happenings in the sports circle. Funding has always been a sensitive issue and when the answers are not clear, it can become more sensitive.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Make transparency compulsory in sports

Not many people understand the meaning of transparency. At least that is the case in some sections of Malaysian sports. Transparency brings about openness, communication and accountability.
Without it, there would be corruption, misuse of authority , lies and all the evils which brings disrepute to sport. Is there transparency in Malaysian sports? For those who know the meaning, the answer would be no, but for the non transparent ones, transparency is what you make it to be. Or maybe even a new skin care product!
In my many years in sports I have seen some officials who try their best to be transparent, while others don't seem interested in it, possibly because it might expose their deeds.
Many may be surprised or disgusted to know that the Malaysian contingent were forced to remove a commercial logo from their official attire at the last Olympic Games in Beijing.
The organizers pointed out that logo had breached the marketing rules. One wonders, if the high-flying, big allowance collecting officials were not aware of that ruling. Or, were they trying to do some ambush marketing for their friends?
This shameful episode could have been avoided if agreements with sponsors and other parties are transparent. Incidents like this could have been prevented if people are aware of the nature and contents of such agreements.
Some of these people repeatedly(and loudly) accuse a health drink company in Malaysia of ambush marketing, but it was real shocker when the same officials were silent in Beijing. I wonder why?
Mind you, this happened to our national contingent who are already at an international event. This is a shame and an inquiry must be held - even though it happened 10 months ago - so that those responsible be held accountable.
Due to lack of transparency, other incidents often occur. The media often reports names of contingent members to sporting events, but often there are many others who "happen to be there and happen to have special passes". Why can't this "special" lists also be made public?
An official once told of an incident that happened when he wanted to get into his official car to go to a venue. He had a shocker waiting for him when a woman, who also had a VIP pass (not athlete, official or anything to do with sport) wanted the same car to go shopping. I am sure she was not going shopping for spikes, boots or sport pistols.
There are many other incidents like these and all of them were as a result of hidden agenda and could have been prevented if there was transparency.
In sports we often hear of sponsorship deals where the contents are known by one or two persons only and these people later give misleading statements which results in the public having a false perception about some sponsors.
The sponsors are portrayed as controlling elements or even companies who gave more overseas than locally. If the contents are made transparent, one would realize that these sponsors had given more than what was implied, in fact one would discover that the sponsorship included deals for affiliates as well. One wonders if the affiliates are aware of it.
The time has come for specific and clear transparency laws to be introduced to prevent blatant abuse by some officials.
The issues are serious enough and many are hoping that Prime Minister YAM Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and his Deputy YAB Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin would step in and make transparency a requirement in sports.
All agreements by sports bodies should be made public and probably the Sports Commissioner's (SC) office should be tasked to implement it.
The SC should not just worry about to punishing association for not signing the annual report. There are many things to worry about in sport.
In the meantime, if the SC's office has the time and interest, should look into the incident where the national contingent had to take of a logo. For me, this kind of action brings disrepute to sports and must be stopped.
There is no point talking about high performance in sports when we have difficulty dealing with low stooping officials.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

AK's the Man

Malaysian billionaire, Ananda Krishnan has been identified as the man behind the deal to end Mike Ashley's nightmare two-year Toon reign. Popular UK daily, The Sun reported today that the parties concerned expects to make an announcement early next week.
The £95million deal for the club represents loose change to the 71-year-old, who is South East Asia's third-richest man worth £4.5billion.

Other consortia remain in the running to buy Newcastle United.
But after making the first significant move in the drawn-out sale, Krishnan is the favorite to take control after meeting Ashley's drastically-reduced asking price - almost £40m less than the sportswear tycoon paid in 2007.
The owner-in-waiting is believed to favor Alan Shearer to be the club's manager.

MEDIA MOGUL ... Ananda Krishnan

Ananda..favors Shearer as Manager

Like Ashley, Krishnan has kept a low profile as he has built up a powerful business portfolio which includes major interests in oil, entertainment, telecoms and shipping.

Over the years, he has donated millions of pounds to charities and a source said: "Mr Krishnan shuns public exposure and likes to keep a low profile for someone of his stature."

Figures have yet to be confirmed but a significant kitty would be made available for Shearer to use in the transfer market.

Athletes can compete overseas

THE Sports Ministry has taken a different stand from that of the Education Ministry, and is not ready to push the panic button and stop Malaysian athletes from competing overseas.
Datuk Ahmad Shabery Cheek made it clear yesterday that his ministry feels the Influenza A(H1N1) virus is still under control.
The Education Ministry has banned teachers and students from competing overseas for fear of being infected by the virus.
"Yes, or stand is opposite to the Education Ministry's because we feel the situation is still under control. However, we will change this policy if we receive a directive from the Health Ministry to stop sending athletes overseas because of the H1N1 virus," added Ahmad Shabery after officiating Skate Malaysia at the Sunway Rink yesterday.
Presently, the national hockey team are in Dublin, Ireland for the Champions Challenge II which starts on Monday while the Badminton World Championships will take place in Hyderabad, India next month.

Friday, July 3, 2009

MSL to be more attractive, popular

The Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) is planning some measures which, the national body hopes, would make their domestic League an attractive and popular competition.
However, this measures would only be announced once a thorough review of all aspects of the Malaysian Super League (MSL) is carried out by the national body through its secretariat and existing sub committees and also the state associations.
This review is in addition to the re-look of the format that is being done by the Competitions Committee.
FAM President, Sultan Ahmad Shah said, he hopes to see the leagues, the Super and Premier, and the Malaysia Cup retake its position as the the number one domestic tournament and this in turn will have an impact on other areas of soccer development.
Pro soccer is not just about the tournament, but involves marketing, funding, promotions, media support and fan clubs.
Pro soccer is also about seeing other areas being transformed to be more effective. This include the training of coaches, referees and administrators.
The next few months would be crucial as FAM begins to make some changes to the MSL and also allow more "breathing space" for the improvement of the national team.

ISF to popularize Softball in Asia

The International Softball Federation (ISF) has vowed to make softball a major sport in Asia, said ISF Deputy Secretary General, Ms. Low Beng Choo in Singapore yesterday. This would further boost the campaign to reinstate softball to the Olympic Program in 2016.

Ms. Low (pix), who is also a member of the International Olympic Committee Women and Sport Commission, is very active on the Asian sporting scene as Malaysian Softball Federation President, Softball Confederation of Asia Secretary General, and Olympic Council Malaysia Vice President.

Softball has enjoyed significant success in Asia recently with Japan winning the Olympic Games final against USA in China last summer, which resulted in record broadcast figures for Japanese broadcaster NHK. Read the full story here.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Se Ri to grace MLAO,28136,1682025,00.html
South Korean golf star, Pak Se Ri (picture) would be the main attraction at the 26th Malaysian Ladies Amateur Open (MLAO) Championship, which will take place at the Mines Resort & Golf Club from Aug 4-6, 2009.
However, as a professional player, the 31 year old's role would be just to inspire the other players as well as conduct some coaching clinics for local juniors.
A total of 137 players will take part in this prestigious annual event. Malaysia will field 62 players and among the top names include Chua Tze Jean, 21, who has played in Collegiate Golf, representing the Wake Forest University.
The other Malaysians include Dayanitha Kuneskaran, who represented the country in the 2007 Korat SEA Games, Michele Koh, Michele Low, Isza Fariza and three up and coming juniors - Nurul Syahirah Afigah, Aretha Pan and Nur Islamiah.
Singapore leads the list of foreign teams with 20 participants , followed by Thailand (14), Hong Kong (9), Indonesia (9), Taiwan (8), Philippines (4), China (3), England (3), Brunei (2), Australia (2), Sri Lanka (1).
Defending champion, Kawinpakron Yupaporn from Thailand would be defending her crown but she is expected to face a stiff challenge from last year's runner-up, Ines Putri Chandra from Indonesia.
Meanwhile, there will be no charge for fans who want to watch the players in action.