Sunday, February 28, 2010

Larian Baton Sukma launched

Against the backdrop of one of the most historical site in the history of Melaka in Port Supai, Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Bin Mohd Rustam, the Chief Minister of Melaka launched the ‘Larian Baton Sukan Malaysia XIII, Melaka 2010’ .

Melaka will be hosting their first-ever Sukan Malaysia this year from 10-19 June 2010.

In his speech, Mohd Ali said that there are only 102 days left to the start of the Sukan Malaysia XIII and as such the people of Melaka should get into the Sukan Malaysia mood as they might not have the chance to see it being hosts again in the state until maybe some years later.

“Sports is one of the 13 promotional product of the state and with this being the first that Melaka is playing hosts to the biggest sporting event in the country, Melaka should set the standard in supporting the games,” said Mohd Ali.

“I’ve already instructed the promotions committee to double their effort in promoting the games which will see a total of 33 sports being competed.

“I hope that the various agencies – government on non-governmental – will get into the spirit of the Sukan Malaysia so that out athletes can also be successful in the medal standings. I hope that for the first time too, Melaka can become overall champions.”

Mohd Ali did not only launched the ‘Larian Baton Sukan Malaysia XIII, Melaka 2010’ but also ran the first part of the run out from Port Supai which will see the baton passing through Tanjung Bidara, Taboh Naning and Durian Tunggal until the end of March.

In April, the ‘Larian Baton’ will pass through Asahan, Pantai Kundor, Klebang and then Ayer Keroh and Bukit Baru among others before moving into the last phase in May beginning with Ayer Molek.

Then it is on to Kesidang and then Banda Hilir to Merlimau at the end of May as the ‘Larian Baton’ then ends on 5 June 2010 in Sungai Rambai.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Confusing signals

The Education Ministry seems to be saying things which are pleasing to the ears of those who are passionate about sports. And, I am sure everyone out there is hoping that all this will come to pass in the near future.

This maybe a good PR exercise to show how the Government is serious in its efforts to develope sports.

However, there are some confusing signs from other areas. Lately, sports programmes on Radio has been drastically reduced. Some folks at Angkaspuri informed me that the first casualty was TraxxFM, which now have been given a weekly slot for sports roundup. Worse still, the many top sports commentators (part-timers) were also told to hit the streets.

"Sports cannot be a weekly programme. The people do not seem to understand or just do not care. Even sports departments are being merged with news departments," said a source.

Another source said that, next those in power are planning to reduce sports in other programmes, including Minnal.

Is it to cut cost? No, said some of them. "The bosses are more interested in entertainment."I hope this is not so and I am trying to get some clarifications on this matter and will update later.

In the meantime, we have to live with this mixed signals. What else is new in sports? Does the Cabinet Committee On Sports know about these downgradings?

Friday, February 26, 2010

More good news for students

Undergraduate athletes representing the country in international meets will be allowed to defer their studies, said Higher Education Minister Datuk Mohamed Khaled Nordin.

He said they would not only be provided with sports facilities but would also earn credit points in co-curriculum.

"Undergraduates contributed 49 of 139 medals to the country at the Laos SEA Games last year," he told reporters after presenting sports incentives and launching the institution of higher learning football league at Universiti Putra Malaysia in Serdang, Thursday.

He said the ministry was committed in producing outstanding athletes and hoped undergraduates could account for 30 per cent of national footballers through the league.

Earlier, in his speech, Mohamed Khaled said the ministry was considering of providing insurance coverage for outstanding undergraduate athletes.

"We had held talks with several insurance companies. This will not only serve as a welfare assistance for undergraduate athletes but will also spur them on in sports," he added.

At the function, 36 undergraduate athletes, who contributed medals at international meets last year, were awarded laptops and vouchers worth RM155,000 under the Sports Excellence, Welfare, Incentive and Research Scheme (SKIPS).

Swimmer Daniel Bego, who won four golds at the Laos SEA Games and Lee Yang, a gold-medallist at the World Wushu Championship in Canada last year, headed the list of recipients.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Chung or Hammam

AFC president Mohamed Hammam appears to have signaled his intention to challenge Sepp Blatter for the FIFA presidency in elections next year.

Speaking at a press conference in Seoul, Hammam said: “We would like to see an Asian as the president of FIFA. This represents and reflects the importance of our continent. The AFC’s slogan is ‘The Future is Asia’. And this is true in all spheres of the sport.

“I believe that the time has come for an Asian to come forward for this position. And there is more than one potential candidate available from Asia to lead world football. When we have that person I hope the whole of Asia will unite behind him.”

Blatter, 73, has said he will stand for a fourth term in office at the 2011 FIFA Congress. "I've not finished my mission in football yet. I need more time," he said.

At the AFC Congress last May, Hammam survived a challenge to his FIFA Executive Committee seat following a bitter campaign characterized by personal
attacks, power abuse claims and cash bribes for votes. He retained the seat after drawing 23 votes to the 21 received by Bahraini royal, Sheik Salman bin Ebrahim Al-Khalifa.

And he appears to have buried the hatchet with Korea’s Chung Mong-joon, a FIFA vice president and member of the AFC Executive Committee, who had led a coalition of opponents against Hammam at congress. Chung is honorary president of the KFA.

“We have had our differences. We have used our differences for the benefit of Asian football. Today, our agreements are more than our differences,” he said of his relationship with Chung.

“I have to thank Dr Chung for making this happen because in our executive committee meeting in November 2009 he told all the members that the past was past and it was time to re-unite behind the AFC president.”

His comments came at a press conference at the Korean FA headquarters on Tuesday. He was accompanied by Chung and Korea Football Association (KFA) President Cho Chung-yung.

Hammam also spoke about the two Asian bids for the 2022 World Cup, insisting he did not have a preference for Qatar over Korea in attempts to bring the World Cup to the continent.

The Qatari, who has headed the AFC since 2002, tried to clarify his position following his meeting with Korean president Lee Myung-bak on Tuesday.

“For Dr Chung and myself, the first priority is to bring the World Cup to Asia. Who gets it is secondary,” he told reporters. “AFC has 46 member Associations and we are representing their interests.”

Hammam met with the Korean president on Tuesday and welcomed the country’s 2022 bid effort. But he offered warmer words for Qatar in talking up the strengths of the bid at the press conference.

“There are so many advantages if Qatar gets to host the World Cup. All the group matches can be played in venues which are within reasonable distance of each other. So one can watch more than one group match the same day.

“Secondly, Qatar will be representing the wishes and hopes of the Middle East. The Middle-East also has the legitimate right to seek peace through football and an event like the World Cup can replace the sorry story of wars.”

Monday, February 22, 2010

1Student 1Sport

From next year, students in both primary and secondary schools must take up at least one sport, said Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

He said an ad hoc committee would also be established to study the matter of issuing credit points to students who participate in sports.

"Presently co-curriculum activities have been made mandatory. However, taking up at least one sport has not been given the needed emphasis.

"We want to inculcate the sports culture in schools, and revert to schools being the main breeding ground for sports talents," he told reporters after closing the Pahang Umno convention, in Bandar Jengka Saturday.

Muhyiddin, who is also Education Minister, said studies would also be made to have sports held all year round in schools and not restricted to just the first two or three months of the school term.

He said the credit points or marks to be given was to alter parents' perception that sports was not a productive activity as compared to academic achievement.

"This year we will take the steps necessary to have the system in place an get it going next year," he said.

On Friday, Muhyiddin said the Cabinet Committee on Sports had outlined five important elements to restore sporting excellence in schools which would involve among others, a revamping of the arts, co-curriculum and sporting activities in primary and secondary schools. - Bernama.

Bulpin to guide Philippines soccer

In a bid to make the cut for the main draw of the Asean Football Championship 2010, the Philippines Football Federation (PFF) have confirmed former Tottenham Hotspur manager Des Bulpin (picture) as their new head coach.

In spite of their array of foreign-based players, Philippines failed to make the cut for the last championship in 2008 after finishing third in the five-team qualifier which was held in Cambodia.
This year’s Asean Football Championship qualifying round has been scheduled for October.

Bulpin, who also had stint with Queens Park Rangers, Leicester and Stockport, has been handed an initial one-year deal.

“It’s a massive challenge, but we have to get on with it," Bulpin was quoted as saying.

“We have to organize the team that pressures other teams, plays a high tempo and moves the ball quickly.”

Bulpin had also been with the Uzbekistan national team previously. - AFF.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Melaka ready to receive 10,810 athletes

The Melaka organizers of the Sukan Malaysia XIII are ready to receive up to 10,810 athletes for the biennial games which will be held on 10-19 June 2010.

Radzi Shaari, the chief executive officer of Sukan Malaysia 2010, said that with the Melaka edition set to be the biggest ever organized, all preparations are geared towards the maximum possible.

“There are 33 sports which will be competed in Melaka as such we have made preparations to accommodate up to 10,810 athletes - in case all the contingents take part in all the sports and also in all the events,” explained Radzi.

“All of our facilities are well on the way to getting prepared for the games and these include those premises which are not directly under our control.

“We have received the participant list from almost all the contingents and up to now, there are already more than 6,000 athletes registered not inclusive of the more than 2,000 officials.”

Radzi said that the Melaka organizers have picked up from the lessons in Terengganu two years ago to make sure that the shortcomings will not see a repeat this time round.

He said that every possible measure in terms of technical aspects, security, transportations and meals preparation have all been taken into consideration.

“We are preparing as well as we can but we do not expect it to be perfect but we will try hard to come close,” he added.

“And so as to avoid any controversies, we have also decided to appoint the Chief National Technical Delegates for all sports from outside the state of Melaka. This will ensure fairness in all the decision making in as far as the technical aspect of the games is concerned.”

Lets see what happens

Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin had a lot of good news for sports in schools. Generally, no one doubts his sincerity in saying all the good things, but will all these things really happen?

During a press conference after giving away Sportswriters Association of Malaysia (SAM) - 100 PLUS awards in Petaling Jaya, Saturday, Muhyiddin said the government will take a major step to revamp sports activites in schools by next year.

He noted that sports activities in schools now last for only the first few months.

“There is no sport activities in the second half of the year because of examinations. We want to revamp it by having sports activities during the school holidays. The best way to get children involved in sports is through schools.

“More qualified sports teachers should be enrol to help develop sports in school. Schools also need all types of sports facilities like fields, halls (for indoor sports) and other infrastructure to help develop sports among schoolchildren," said Muhyiddin who is also the Education Minister.

“I will suggest to the government to pump in more money in the 10th Malaysian Plan (2011-2015) to have more fields and halls for school children. We need a bigger budget for the next five years to develop sports in every school to produce top class athletes,” said Muhyiddin.

Muhyiddin said that he would make sure all the 11 sports which were dropped from the national schools (MSSM) championships calendar this year because of financial woes would be carried out in the next few months.

All these sounds good. Now we will have to wait and see how they are implemented. Would the people carrying out these instructions have the passion to see sports in school develop at greater speed? Would we be seeing schools having more fields and hall? I really hope so.

Shahril wins Overall Media Award

Journalist Shahril Nizam Abdullah of Kosmo won the Overall Media Award in the Sportswriters Association of Malaysia (SAM)-100PLUS awards ceremony, Saturday.

Shahril received RM7,000 and a trophy from Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Shabery Cheek.

He also received another RM3,000 for emerging overall best writer in the special report category and RM500 each for his nominations under the best print media, best commentary report and special report categories, making it a total of RM4,500.

Top stars: The winners from Star Publications, from left: Y.P Sivam, Rajes Paul, S.S. Kanesan and Kamarul Ariffin Hassan.

Star Publications’ S. S. Kanesan was voted the best photographer and he took home RM3,000 and a trophy.

Two other Star photographers – Kamarul Ariffin Hassan and Glenn Guan – received RM500 each and plaques for being nominated among the top best photographers.

The Star sports desk’s Rajes Paul pocketed RM1,500 and plaques for three nominations under the best print report, best sports report and best special report categories.

Meanwhile, Y. P. Sivam of the Metro Sport, pocketed RM500 and a plaque for his nomination under the best special report category.- The Star.

Hello friends

Meeting old friends at the Sportswriters Association of Malaysia's Annual Awards Lunch at PJ Hilton, Saturday. From left, Sdra Razak, Datuk Naim, Zairee, Joe Marcose, Sdra Rahman and Sdra Hafizal Hamad. - Pix courtesy of Datuk Naim Mohamed.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Don't be obsessed with prestige leadership

Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin on Saturday reminded leaders of sports associations against being obsessed with the prestige of leadership so much so that they neglected development of the sport and athletes.

"Some leaders see their position in sports associations as a stepping stone to benefits for themselves -- going on trips and occupying the front seat as the president. The prestige (that comes with the position) is such.

"But let not the prestige and position make us violate the principles of sportsmanship and, eventually, national sports suffers," he told a news conference after presenting the SAM-100Plus 2009 awards of the Sportswriters Association of Malaysia (SAM), in Petaling Jaya, Saturday.

Muhyiddin also called for an immediate stop to politicking in sports associations, saying it could have a detrimental effect on sports development.

"Politicking in sports associations has been there for ages. When I was the youth and sports minister at one time, I had to deal with leadership problems in many sports associations.

"If the focus is not on leadership but the promotion of sports, then there does not have to be the jostling for posts," he said.

Muhyiddin said the Sports Development Act would be unable to resolve problems associated with sports so long as the association leaders continued to engage in politics.

"What is happening now is that the sports and athletes are becoming the victim, and new sports talents cannot be brought to the fore. The basic question is that sports leaders must have discipline, leadership values, understanding and the spirit of compromise," he said.

Earlier, in his speech, Muhyiddin said sports leaders should reduce politicking in the associations and focus fully on efforts to maximise the potential of athletes to excel in the international arena.

He suggested that sports associations emulate the practice of transition of leaders in a democratic and organised manner without politicking which he said only caused disunity.

At the event, Muhyiddin also presented the SAM-100Plus 2009 award of a trophy and a cheque for RM10,000 to national track cyclist Azizulhasni Awang.

The award was received by Azizulhasni's mother Selamiah Yong as the gold medallist of the Keirin event at the Beijing UCI Track World Cup Classic last year is undergoing training and pursuing studies in Melbourne, Australia.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Candidate from Asia will challenge me - Blatter

FIFA president Sepp Blatter (picture) acknowledged Thursday there is opposition to his bid for a fourth term at the helm of world soccer, but insists he wants more time to strengthen the sport.

In an unannounced visit to journalists at FIFA headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland, Blatter said he expected multiple challengers when he seeks re-election in June 2011. But he vowed to push on with his own candidacy.

"Now it is obvious there will be candidates for the FIFA presidency in 2011 -- a candidate from Asia," the 73-year-old Swiss native said.

"I have not changed my position," said Blatter, the world football body's president since 1998. "I am still here, and I hope to still be here in 2011. I have not now finished my mission, and if the Congress will decide so, I will be at their disposal."

Although he didn't mention any rival by name, he appeared to be reacting to the threat posed by Mohamed Bin Hammam of Qatar, who as the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) chief could mount a credible challenge to Blatter.

Hammam's candidacy -- or one promoted by him -- would seriously jeopardize Blatter's 12-year leadership of FIFA during which the organization has successfully recovered from a crisis caused by the collapse of its marketing partner earlier this decade. With its finances booming, Blatter won a third term without opposition in 2007. - TS.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Sorry Dr M, maybe next year

There will not be a Langkawi leg during this years Le Tour de Langkawi. However it is expected to make a comeback to the island next year, after a two-year hiatus.

LTdL chief operating officer Datuk Mohamed Salleh said Langkawi would be ready to be part of the circuit next year. Langkawi could not revive the circuit this year due to teething problems," he told reporters Thursday.

Recently, former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad remarked that he was deeply saddened as Langkawi was not featured in LTdL over the past few years.

Dr Mahathir said the resort island should feature LTdL as the objective of having the race was to promote Langkawi to the world as Le Tour de Langkawi in French meant 'Touring Langkawi'.

Langkawi was last featured in LTdL in 2007 while the LTdL 2010 from March 1 to 7 will start in Kota Baharu and will pass through Kemaman and Pekan before ending in Kuala Lumpur.

So, for now, we will be Touring Langkawi without going to Langkawi. And, the Malaysian National Cycling Federation (MNCF) is not worried about it because this years edition is being run by the Ministry of Youth and Sports.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Markis, Hendra are now professionals

Markis Kido (picture, left) and Hendra Setiawan (right) open a new chapter in their careers this year as Indonesia’s best men’s doubles pair begins playing as professionals.

The duo, ranked third in the world, officially secured its release from the national team last week. The Indonesian Badminton Association (PBSI) issue a letter of release, breaking ties with the pair which had been in the national team since 2001.

Markis and Hendra’s first act as professionals was to secure a sponsor to fund their ability to play in international tournaments. Both were sponsored by apparel company Yonex during their time with the national team, but that deal ended once they left the camp.

They announced on Monday they secured a three-year deal with Flypower, a local sporting goods company which is owned by Indonesian badminton legend Hariyanto Arbi. None of the parties were willing to reveal contract details, but the deal is reportedly worth Rp 1.5 billion ($160,000) per year.

“They offered us good money, I can only tell you that. Anyway, we have to start loving our national products, don’t we?” Markis said on Monday. “[Flypower] had been approaching us since we announced that we had quit the national team early this year.”

Hariyono also kept quiet on the details, only saying the amount was “sufficient” for world-class shuttlers, adding, “We’re very proud as now we have the right ambassadors for our products.”

Their contract states they must play in six Super Series tournaments — Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, the China Masters, French Open and China Open — as well as three each in the Grand Prix and National Circuit series.

However, Markis said they also plan to compete in the All England, Swiss and Hong Kong tournaments.

“We’ll get a 15 percent bonus if we can stay in the world top four at the end of every year,” he said. “That, of course, will motivate us more to get better results.”

The pair comes into 2010 after a lean season by their standards. A nagging left knee injury and high blood pressure hampered Markis as the duo lost its world No. 1 ranking to Malaysia’s Koo Kien Keat and Tan Boon Heong.

They won just two of 12 Super Series events, Japan and France, in addition to the Asian Badminton Championship. They closed 2009 with team and men’s doubles gold medals at the Southeast Asian Games in Laos.

Markis and Hendra’s first international event this year will be the Thomas Cup Asian qualifiers in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand, on Feb. 22-28. That could pose a problem as the PBSI’s national shuttlers are obliged to wear apparel made by Yonex, the national team’s main sponsor.

Hariyanto said he did not have a problem with Markis and Hendra wearing another comapny’s products while competing for the national team. “But they have to wear ours outside the Thomas Cup,” he warned.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Cricket not interested in Olympics?

To see cricket at the Olympics is someone’s dream, but at this stage it’s not quite clear just whose.

On Friday the International Cricket Council (ICC) announced with some delight the International Olympic Council had voted to have the ICC approved.

Even as rumours of Twenty-20 cricket making a debut in the 2020 Olympics did the rounds, the men who run the game laid to rest speculation.

“At this stage, no decision has been made regarding participation or applying for approval to participate in the Olympic Games,” said ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat.

The road to cricket actually becoming an Olympic sport is a long one, and the first steps would be to include the sport in competitions like the Common-wealth Games and Asian Games. While there has been a push to include cricket in the Asian Games in China later this year, nothing has been finalised.

“The international itinerary is packed as it is and we’re having to look at cutting back some of the engagements,” a BCCI official told HT. “Practically

Two 17 year olds in team to Slovakia

Two 17-year-olds - midfielder Mohd Fandi Othman and striker Gary Steven - have been included in the Harimau Muda ‘A’ squad which will be spending the year in the Slovakian First Division.

Apart from the two, the other Harimau Muda ‘B’ players who have gained promotion into the upper squad are defender Mohamad Fadhli Mohd Shah and strikers A. Thamil Arasu and Wan Zack Haikal Wan Noor, who will make the flight to Slovakia on 19 February.

Head coach Azraai Khor Abdullah defended his move to include the two youngsters following his previous experience with former treble Malaysian champions Kedah.

"Previously, I had fielded Khyrill (Muhymeen Zambri) when he just turned 18-years-old with the Kedah team. If the player is talented, age should not be a barrier,” said Azraai.

With the promotion of the five 19-year-olds into the Harimau Muda ’A’ team, there were also some demotions for several of the current Under-21 players and they are Mohd Nazri Baharudin, Muhamad Zulhariz Mohamad Nor, Ahmad Aminuddin Shaharuddin, Yusaini Hafiz Chee Saad and Mohd Shahrul Hafiz.

The five will be absorbed into the Harimau Muda ’B team under the guidance of head coach Ong Kim Swee.

Harimau Muda ‘B‘ have three players from the SEA Games squad - Mohamad Muslim Ahmad, K Gurusamy and Mahalli Jasuli - who won the gold in Laos last December. -AFF.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Lotus Cosworth T127 unveiled

Malaysia's Formula One (F1) outfit, the Lotus F1 Racing, on Friday unveiled its machine for the 2010 Federation of International Automobile (FIA) F1 World Championship Grand Prix (GP) season.

The vaunted machine, Lotus Cosworth T127, was revealed to over 300 people at the Royal Horticultural Halls and Conference Centre, located in the heart of Westminster, London.

Team Principal Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes was joined on stage by Chief Technical Officer Mike Gascoyne and drivers -- Italian Jarno Trulli, Finnish Heikki Kovalainen and Malaysian Mohd Fairuz Fauzy -- to take the wraps off the car.

As the lights came up, the Lotus Cosworth T127's stunning green and yellow livery was seen for the first time, with the wording "1Malaysia" visibly displayed.

Fernandes said he was extremely proud of the team's achievement, having launched the car in just five months since the team was granted its entry to the FIA F1 World Championship.

"I am extremely proud to be here and to be able to show to the world the fruits of the team's hard work over the last five months because we started with only four people and now with 130 staff," he said.

Fernandes also thanked the support of the Malaysian government especially Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and former Prime Minister Tun Mahathir Mohamad.

"It's humbling for me and my fellow shareholders, Datuk Kamarudin Meranun and SM Nasarudin SM Nasimuddin, to see how a team that five months ago didn't even exist, is now a thriving workforce, full of enthusiasm and passion for the Lotus F1 Racing and the challenges ahead," he said.

"Next, we move on to testing the car and I'm confident that the team will exceed expectations wherever we go," he said.

The machine will make its debut on the track at the F1 third official test at two circuits in Spain, namely the Jerez circuit on Feb 17 and Barcelona circuit from Feb 25.

The Lotus F1 Racing team, announced by Najib in September last year and operated by 1Malaysia Racing Team (1MRT) Sdn Bhd, is targeting to be the best among three new teams this season.

The team, which will be flying the Malaysian flag, is a privately-funded project jointly owned by Tune Group and Naza Group. Tune Group is jointly owned by team principal Fernandes and Kamarudin, one of the team's directors.

Other team directors are Naza Group chief executive officers SM Nasarudin and Zahri Ismail.

The 2010 F1 World Championship will kick-off with the Bahrain GP on Mac 14, followed by Australian GP (Mac 28) and Malaysian GP at Sepang Circuit on April 4.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Chong Wei, Nicol the front-runners

World No. 1 men's singles badminton shuttler Datuk Lee Chong Wei and World No. 2 women's squash player Datuk Nicol David, have emerged as the front-runners for the "Athlete Of The Year" 2009 Sportswriters Association of Malaysia (SAM) 100PLUS award.

Chong Wei and Nicol, both former winners of this prestigious sporting award, are among six nominees being shortlisted by SAM.

The other top national athletes nominated are newly crowned world champion cyclist Mohd Azizul Hasni Awang, the winner of five SEA Games swimming gold medals, Daniel Bego, diving pair Pandelela Rinong and Leong Mun Yee, and the women's badminton team that won the event's gold medal at the SEA Games in Laos, thus ending Malaysia's 34-year drought.

Deputy prime minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin will be the guest-of-honour at the award ceremony to be held on Saturday at PJ Hotel.

"For the first time, the award ceremony will be held in the morning this Saturday. We are delighted that Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has agreed to grace the event which will also be attended by Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Shabery Cheek, while former SAM presidents will also be attending," said SAM president Ahmad Khawari Isa.

Khawari said there would be uniqueness in the winners' selection process whereby winners would be solely decided by the votes cast by SAM members nationwide.

"We are expecting the unexpected as the final decision is in the hands of the members, not by a panel of judges as what happened in the past," he said.

Meanwhile, the country's no. 1 isotonic drink 100PLUS, F&N Beverages Marketing Sdn Bhd corporate affairs manager Datuk Kamal Harun said this event was to further recognise the untiring efforts by national top athletes who pushed themselves to the limits in the quest for success.

The winner of 'Athlete of the Year' award will take home RM10,000 in prize money and a trophy, while a special 'Outdo Yourself' award will also be announced at the awards ceremony.

Apart from recognising the athletes' sterling achievement, SAM members who are sports journalists plying their trade in the country's print and electronic media organisations, will stand to win a total of RM40,000 in cash prizes for the SAM-Youth and Sports Ministry Media Awards.

There are six media award categories namely the best in news report (print), commentary (print), news report (electronic), commentary (electronic), special report (print and electronic), and photography.

Winners of the six categories will receive RM3,000 in cash and trophy each, and will again stand a chance to be crowned as the overall winner in which he or she will be awarded with an additional RM7,000 in cash and a trophy.

Luck of the draw?

The path to Kuala Lumpur appears straightforward for Indonesia’s men, but the women face a tougher road.

Thursday’s draw for Thomas and Uber Cup Asia zone qualifying pitted the Indonesian women against Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka and Thailand. With the Koreans an obvious favorite, Indonesia must beat out regional rivals Singapore and Thailand to advance from Group X.

“Yes, looking for a victory over the Koreans will be a hard job, especially because they have good women’s doubles. We have a good opportunity to beat the other three teams,” Indonesia coach Aryono Miranat said on Thursday.

“We must be aware, especially against Thailand. They will play in front a home crowd. The players must be smart and take a careful approach from the first match against any team.”

Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand, hosts both qualifying tournaments from Feb. 22-28. The tournament proper takes place in Kuala Lumpur on May 9-16.

Indonesia’s women, looking for their first title since 1996, should beat Sri Lanka with ease. That leaves matches against Thailand, led by world No. 14 singles shuttler Ponsana Salakjit, and Singapore to decide the second semifinal place.

The top two teams from each group advance to a four-team playoff. The top three teams from the playoff qualify for Kuala Lumpur automatically, while the fourth-place team qualifies if its world rank is better than the fourth-place team from Europe.

Group Y consists of Hong Kong, India, Japan, the Philippines and Taiwan.

Indonesia’s men, the top seeds in qualifying, face a less taxing draw in Group A after being placed with Singapore and Vietnam. The Group A winner will take on the runner-up in Group B, which includes Hong Kong, the Philippines and Taiwan.

“Well, the draw is good enough for us, thank God. I’m optimistic we can win the group,” men’s doubles shuttler Markis Kido said.

Thomas Cup
Group A: Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnam
Group B: Hong Kong, Philippines, Taiwan
Group C: Cambodia, India, Sri Lanka, Thailand
Group D: Japan, Laos, South Korea
Uber Cup
Group X: Indonesia, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand
Group Y: Hong Kong, India, Japan, Philippines, Taiwan.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Air Asia sponsors British MotoGP

Malaysian low-cost carrier AirAsia on Wednesday became the title sponsor for the British Motorcycle Grand Prix (MotoGP) in a three-year deal starting this year.

Its chief executive officer (CEO), Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes, said the British MotoGP would be held at the prestigious Silverstone circuit in June.

He, however, did not want to disclose the allocation for the sponsorship.

"I decided to sponsor the Silverstone circuit because it was a special comeback for the circuit since 1986 (last race held at the circuit), thus it was available for us to approach.

"For AirAsia, this sponsorship will bring a lot of attention from all over the world and we must admit that Malaysia is closea with England compared with other European countries," he told reporters in London.

Fernandes earlier signed the agreements between AirAsia and Dorna Sports S.L. at the British Racing Drivers Club at the Silverstone circuit.

Dorna Sports S.L. CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta signed on behalf of the company which was established in 1988 as an international sports management and marketing company.

Dorna Sports S.L. has been the exclusive holder of all commercial and TV rights of the MotoGP since 1992.

The 2010 MotoGP World Championship calendars will kick off in April as the action at the Silverstone circuit is scheduled for June 18-20.

"It's a huge thing for me and it's great that we have a brand, AirAsia, from Malaysia that Dorna S.L. wants to cooperate with," he said.

Fernandes said it was a dream comes true and a big step for him because at the Sepang circuit last year two Malaysia riders representing AirAsia racing team made their debut by wildcards.

"We had our first taste when we sponsored the entries of Elly Idzlianizar Ilias and Mohd Zulfahimi Khairuddin. It was a magnificent experience.

"The boys did Malaysia proud and we were thrilled to have helped make their dream a reality. We are proud and excited to be back in the MotoGP this year, with a bigger role by being the title sponsor," he said.

Fernandes said it had always been his dreams to establish a MotoGP team from Malaysia and although it was a long journey, it is must start from now.

"Maybe five or 10 years from now we can dream to have our own Valentino Rossi (the eight-time world champion)," he added. -- BERNAMA

Whose idea was this.....

Kuala Lumpur has lost to Buenos Aires in its bid to host the International Olympic Committee (IOC) meeting in 2013 which will pick the host of the 2020 Summer Olympics. While not many would be surprised by it, many, including me, like to know whose idea was this to bid to host a meeting.

When we cannot even organise SUKMA without quarelling, why should we worry about such meetings? All effort and time should be towards reviving sport in the country - changing the structures, getting rid of non-performing and talk only officials and so on.

Kuala Lumpur received only 31 votes compared to 58 garnered by the Argentine capital city. I suspect the bid was not planned properly. How much did the whole thing cost?

Ninety-two of the 115 members of the IOC attended the 122nd IOC meeting while two members abstained while one vote was spoilt (Why?).

Besides selecting the host city of the 2020 Summer Olympics, the 2013 meeting will also appoint a new IOC president to succeed Jacques Rogge whose term of office ends in 2013.

Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) president Tunku Tan Sri Imran Tuanku Jaafar described the voting as fair, considering that after having selected Nanjing in China as the host of the 2014 Youth Olympic Games, the IOC wanted another region in the world to host its 2013 meeting.

"Of course, I am disappointed (with the decision) but I feel Malaysia had made a good bid. Our presentation was the best we could have delivered," he said.

Besides Tunku Imran, the Malaysian delegation comprised Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Ahmad Shabery Cheek, OCM vice-president Low Beng Choo, OCM honorary secretary Datuk Sieh Kok Chi and National Sports Council director-general Datuk Zolkples Embong.

Tunku Imran said failing in the bid would not dampen Malaysia's spirit to bid for the 2019 Asian Games. Another bid? Are you sure....

Indonesia's finest players train together

Two weeks after the members were announced, Indonesia's entire Thomas Cup squad practiced together for the first time on Wednesday.

The team, which consists of 10 players, has been training at the Indonesian Badminton Association’s (PBSI) national camp in Cipayung, East Jakarta, since early January, but only the national team shuttlers were there.

Professional players Taufik Hidayat and Alvent Yulianto Chandra joined the camp after the Malaysia Open Super Series, which ended on Jan. 24. However, men’s doubles shuttlers Markis Kido and Hendra Setiawan were nowhere in sight.

Taufik urged the team to train together in Cipayung, saying a squad’s chemistry is crucial in a team championship such as the Thomas Cup. But Markis and Hendra, who withdrew from the national camp in early January, could only join their teammates on Wednesday.

“We were waiting for the PBSI’s official approval of our withdrawal from the national team because we wanted our status to be cleared before we joined the Thomas Cup team,” Markis, 25, told state-run news agency Antara on Tuesday. “We got the letter of approval on Monday, so now we’ll go to the camp.”

Since leaving Cipayung, Markis and Hendra have trained at Gemilang Sports Hall in Kramat Jati, East Jakarta.

“It’s good to be back [in Cipayung] and practice with the team,” Markis told the Jakarta Globe on Wednesday.

Taufik said he was glad all matters had been resolved so the team could concentrate on training for the Asian qualifying rounds in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand, on Feb. 21-28.

Other national shuttlers echoed Taufik’s call for unity.

“It's nice to have [Markis and Hendra] with us again. It gives me more strength to face the event,” said doubles player Rian Sukmawan who will make his Thomas Cup debut with partner Yonathan Suryatama Dasuki.

Men’s singles coach Agus Dwi Santoso hoped the presence of veteran shuttlers, especially 2000 and 2002 winner Taufik, would bring more inspiration to the younger team members.

The Badminton World Federation announced the Asian qualifying seedings on Tuesday, with Indonesia receiving top spot in the men’s draw. Japan is second, followed by India and Taiwan. Indonesia’s Uber Cup squad was seeded third behind Korea and Japan.
The 2010 Thomas and Uber Cup finals will be held in Kuala Lumpur from May 9 to 16. -JG.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Pak Alwi passes on

Former national cycling coach, Alwi Ahmad (picture) passed away Sunday evening (7.21pm) at his home in Datuk Keramat, Kuala Lumpur. Alwi, father of former track cyclist, Rosman suffered a stroke two years ago and never fully recovered. He was 76.

Former Director General of National Sports Council (NSC), Datuk Wira Mazlan Ahmad said, Alwi dedicated his coaching life to not only his son Rosman, but many others in Selangor and later Federal Territory.

"Among the cyclists Alwi coached were the late Ali Hasan, Yahya Ahmad and Umar Ibrahim," said Mazlan.

I have known Pak Alwi since early 80s and he was a very dedicated coach. He learned through experience and from the many foreign coaches who trained our national cyclists. One of them was Karl Link from (West) Germany.

He always wanted a "family atmosphere" during training camps or even competitions. His wife, Norli Nor Amin, 65, used to bring food and Alwi and his cyclists, and some journalists, would have a meal together.

Besides Rosman, 49, his other sons are Asari (48), Zaini (47) and Ishak (45). Ishak was involved in cycling for a few years but did not continue.

Alwi was a cyclist in the 1950s. His teamates include Abdul Latif Wahab, Mansor Sawi, Malik Selamat, Low Bing Kong and Tay Bock Teck.

My condolence to Rosman and his family. May his soul rest in peace.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Well done, basketball

Malaysia has withdrawn its young women's basketball team from the Guangzhou Asian Games in November to focus on the 2011 SEA Games in Indonesia.

National coach Tan See Wah said the team comprising ten new players needed more exposure and lacked the experience to do well in Guangzhou.

"This followed the retirement of six senior players, paving the way for the players. They were not dropped and cited advancing age as factor for the decision," said See Wah, yesterday.

The coach said the seniors who retired include Chew Yan Yan, Pee Yann Yann and Beh Siew Lian (late 30s). They were replaced by 18 years-olds.

"The seniors felt that they will be over 30 by the time the 2011 SEA Games comes around. Basketball was excluded from the SEA Games in 2005 and 2009."

Malaysia won the women's basketball gold medal at Korat SEA Games in 2007.

The team will be compete at FIBA Asian Cup in Doha, Qatar (May22-30) and Under 18 FIBA Women's Asia Cup in Surat Thani, Thailand (June 23-30), FIBA Stankovic Asian Cup in Beirut, Lebanon (Aug 7-15) and Youth Olympic Games in Singapore (Aug 14-26).

Congratulations Subkhiddin

Malaysian referee, Subkhiddin Mohd Salleh is among the 30 refrees representing 28 different countries for the FIFA World Cup in South Africa. Two assistant referees listed with him, are Yuxin Mu (China) and Jeffrey Goh Gek Pheng (Singapore).

The trio are among four referees and eight referees appointed from Asia. All of them will attend a seminar next month before a final selection is done.

Subkhiddin may not be the first Malaysian referee to be at a World Cup but he is likely to be the first to officiate in the middle as the main referee, that is, if he makes it through the final phase of the selection process.

Meanwhile FIFA in statement said, the world body has implemented a comprehensive programme to ensure that the referees for its flagship competition are in peak condition come 11 June.

The road to the 2010 FIFA World Cup as it did for the 32 participating teams, began for an initial group of 54 trios of referees from all over the world in 2007 when the FIFA Executive Committee took the important decision of creating a Refereeing Assistance Programme (RAP).

One of the key objectives was to prepare this group of prospective referees for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. As in previous years, the FIFA Refereeing Department - headed by Spanish former international referee José Maria García-Aranda who refereed at both the 1998 FIFA World Cup and the 2000 UEFA European Championship - was responsible for coordinating and organising all of the activities involving the candidate referees.

The international experts in the fields of refereeing technique, fitness and psychology was set up by FIFA to monitor and analyse all of the information on the candidate referees, involving those responsible for refereeing in each confederation.

The FIFA Medical Assessment and Research Centre (F-MARC) were another key group in this process.

The latest technology has been implemented in the preparation of the referees both within practical training, and interactive sessions, whilst performances at respective FIFA competitions were also analysed and evaluated.

Theoretical tests undertaken exclusively in English - which has been the lingua franca for FIFA’s referees for many years – to ensure appropriate knowledge of the Laws of the Game, the regulations for FIFA competitions and the directives of the International Football Association Board (IFAB) were also a regular feature during the last three years.

In May, a final assessment will be conducted and a decision made regarding the acting and support referees prior to the first match appointments being made for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Past memories haunt Indonesian shuttlers

Women’s badminton has long been a source of frustration for Indonesia.

Ever since Susi Susanti — a 1992 Olympic gold medalist, five-time world champion and four-time All England winner — retired in 1997 after marrying fellow badminton legend Alan Budikusuma, no Indonesian women’s shuttler has managed to fill her shoes.

Mia Audina briefly took Susi’s mantle, winning silver at the 1996 Olympics. However, she switched nationality after marrying Dutch gospel singer Tylio Lobman in March 1999. With the biennial world women’s team championship, the Uber Cup, drawing ever closer, memories of those two continue to haunt the Indonesian national team. Its last Uber Cup titles came in 1994 and 1996, when Susi and Mia were still in the squad.

Since then, Indonesia’s best showings have been runner-up finishes in 1998, 2000 and 2008, with China winning every title since 1998.

“Playing experience, especially in international tournaments, is the most important thing in improving shuttlers. Sadly, our women shuttlers have been lacking that since the early 2000s,” national team head coach Christian Hadinata said. “We still don’t have outstanding shuttlers in world-class competition, but we’re working hard on that.”

Part of the reason for the country’s lagging behind other nations, he said, was a lack of funding from the Indonesian Badminton Association (PBSI).

China and Malaysia are absent from the Asian qualifying tournament in Thailand on Feb. 21-28. China, the defending champion, and host Malaysia advanced directly to the finals, which take place May 9-16 in Kuala Lumpur.

Indonesia faces nine other Asian countries in the race for three Uber Cup berths. The fourth-place team can qualify if its world ranking is better than the fourth-best team from European qualifying.

Hong Kong, India, Japan and South Korea pose the toughest tests as they all have players in the world top 20. Indonesia’s best singles shuttler is Adrianti Firdasari at No. 22, while its best doubles pair is ninth-ranked Greysia Polii and Nitya Krishinda Maheswari.

“We’ve urged them to give their all if they don’t want to repeat 2006, when Indonesia failed to qualify for the Uber Cup for the first time ever,” women’s singles coach Marleve Mainaky said. -JG.

Good news for Schools

The Government plans to start an Teachers Training Institute for Sports. Deputy Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin wo announced this, also added that the Education Ministry as allocated a budget of RM89 million for schools sports activities and programmes. Here is the report in Utusan Malaysia today.

Kementerian Pelajaran sedang dalam proses mewujudkan sebuah Institut Pendidikan Guru Malaysia Sukan (IPGM Sukan) untuk melahirkan guru dan jurulatih sukan dalam masa terdekat.

Timbalan Perdana Menteri, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin berkata, ia akan diwujudkan di IPGM Raja Melewar, Seremban.

“Empat lagi pusat kecemerlangan sukan di kampus IPGM sedia ada di Johor, Terengganu, Sarawak dan Sabah pula akan diwujudkan sebagai feeder kepada IPGM Raja Melewar.

“Seramai 320 calon jurulatih akan menjalani latihan merangkumi lapan bidang sukan bermula pertengahan tahun 2011,” katanya semasa merasmikan Majlis Pecah Tanah Stadium dan Kompleks Sukan Educity-Iskandar di Nusajaya, Khamis.

Turut hadir Menteri Besar Johor, Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman; Pengerusi Iskandar Investment Bhd., Tan Sri Azman Mokhtar; Setiausaha Kerajaan Negeri Johor, Datuk Abdul Latiff Yusof dan Ketua Pegawai Eksekutif Iskandar Investment Bhd., Arlida Ariff.

Kompleks sukan bernilai RM95.32 juta di tapak seluas 8.6 hektar itu mempunyai kapasiti tempat duduk 14,000 orang.

Ia dilengkapi trek balapan, padang ragbi, kolam renang, gelanggang badminton, bola keranjang, bola tampar dan futsal serta skuasy bakal menjadi salah satu mercu tanda penting di kawasan pembangunan Iskandar Malaysia apabila siap 2011.

Muhyiddin yang juga Menteri Pelajaran berkata, kerajaan berharap jurulatih sukan tersebut akan dapat mengembalikan kecemerlangan sukan sebagai aspek penting dalam kokurikulum sekolah.

Beliau berkata, kerajaan prihatin dan menyedari bahawa aspek sukan di sekolah sangat penting untuk sahsiah pelajar.

“Oleh itu, Kementerian Pelajaran bersetuju untuk memperuntukkan sebanyak RM89 juta untuk aktiviti sukan dan kokurikulum sahaja.

“Ini akan memastikan semua 24 bidang sukan di bawah kalendar Majlis Sukan Sekolah-sekolah Malaysia (MSSM) akan dapat terus dipertandingkan bagi semua peringkat umur meskipun keadaan ekonomi yang belum pulih sepenuhnya.

‘‘Antara 24 bidang sukan tersebut termasuk boling, skuasy, memanah, ping pong, ragbi, kriket, sukan layar, bola lisut, bola baling, merentas desa dan catur,” katanya.

Pada sidang akhbar kemudiannya, Timbalan Perdana Menteri menjelaskan, beliau telah mengarahkan supaya sebelas acara sukan yang dipotong daripada kalendar MSSM sebelum ini dimasukkan semula bagi membolehkan ia dipertandingkan.

Beliau berkata, pada mulanya acara itu dipotong daripada dijalankan kerana jumlah peruntukan kepada Kementerian Pelajaran agak berkurangan ekoran keadaan kegawatan ekonomi.

Muhyiddin berkata, bagi jangka sederhana iaitu dalam Rancangan Malaysia Kesepuluh (RMK-10), tumpuan akan diberikan untuk membangunkan infrastruktur sukan di sekolah seluruh negara.

“Saya sedar sejak beberapa tahun ini banyak sekolah tidak dilengkapi dengan padang dan kalau ada pun padang, ia tidak dinaik taraf dan infrastruktur yang sepatutnya tidak lengkap.

“Dalam RMK-10 kita belum tetapkan jumlah untuk dijadikan belanjawan, tetapi pastinya jauh lebih besar,” katanya.

Beliau juga mahu setiap daripada kira-kira 5.6 juta pelajar di 10,000 sekolah di negara ini mengambil sekurang-kurangnya satu acara sukan.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Learning from Houllier, Mombaerts

Technical Directors from Asean countries had the oppurtunity to learn from two well known soccer experts from France.

Gerard Houllier and Eric Mombaerts conducted the three day Asean Football Federation/ France Football Seminar for Technical Directors which was attended by 18 participants. The seminar, held in Petaling Jaya, ended Wednesday.

It was practical hardwork and intense theoretical classroom sessions for the participants.

Houllier had previously coached Paris Saint-Germain, RC Lens and Liverpool - with whom he won the UEFA Cup in 2001.

He then guided Olympique Lyonnais to two French titles, before resigning in 2007.

Houllier had also coached the French national team between 1992 and 1993 and was also the assistant to Aimé Jacquet at the 1998 World Cup.

Houllier was part of UEFA's and FIFA's Technical Committee, in the 2002 and 2006 World Cup finals.

On the other hand, Mombaerts was a player for Montargis, Nemours, INF Vichy, RC Lens, US Noeux-lès-Mines and ÉDS Montluçon.

He began his coaching career with the reserve side of Paris Saint-Germain before coaching the senior side briefly in 1988. In 1989, he managed Guingamp then AS Cannes and Toulouse FC.

He left Toulouse in 2006 to manage the French under-18 youth side before becoming the head coach of the French under-21 side in August 2008.

The AFF/ FFF course this week began with Houllier going through the module of ‘the Role of the Technical Director’ before moving into ‘Evolution of the Modern Game’ and ‘Youth development - the French way’ on the second day.

The practical session under Mombaerts covered aspects of ‘Positive Possession Play’ and also ‘Counter Attacking Play’.

The final day saw Mombaerts going through ‘Combined Training – Mental and Physical’ as Houllier then sums up the seminar with ‘Ingredients of a Winning Team’.

May Tola, Keo Sareth, Scott O’Donell (CAMBODIA); Emral Abus, Satia Bagdja Ijatna (INDONESIA); Phothone Thanavady, Soutsakhone Oudomphet (LAOS); Lim Kim Chon, R. Gopalkrishnan (MALAYSIA); U Win Thu Moe, U Lin Yaung (MYANMAR); Jose Ariston P. Caslib, John Pomar Carmona (PHILIPPINES); Jita Singh (SINGAPORE); Dr. Kasom Chanawongse (THAILAND); Antonio Timoteo Moreira da Silva (TIMOR LESTE); Truong Hai Tung, Pham Truong Minh (VIETNAM).

Legal Eagles in India helps Olympian

India’s legal community has fixed luge competitor Shiva Keshavan’s broken dreams ahead of this month’s Winter Olympics.

Keshavan’s sled broke in training just days before India’s lone winter specialist’s departure for his fourth Olympics. However, five lawyers pooled 450,000 rupees ($10,000) to help pay for new equipment, the Times of India reported on Wednesday.

“I don’t know him personally but he is making so much effort against odds that we decided to contribute towards his cause,” lawyer Abhishek Singhvi told the paper. 

The Uruguayan "Tigers"

In the midst of endless debate over Indonesia's national team performances and local youth development programs, or the lack thereof, the boys of the Under-18 team shipped off for the third stint of the Uruguayan Project on Tuesday.

The team headed for Montevideo to play in the Quarta Division in Uruguay.

Critics have said the Rp 20 billion ($2.1 million), four-year program is just another Indonesian Football Association (PSSI) shortcut to develop better footballers, rather than improving junior leagues or football academies at home. Junior leagues in Indonesia are nearly unheard of, the most notable being the Medco Under-15 League.

It’s not the first time PSSI has sent teams of youngsters abroad. In the early 1990s, the association sent two teams to Italy to play in the Primavera and Baretti leagues.

Though it produced local stars like Aples Tecuari, Kurniawan Dwi Yulianto, Kurnia Sandy and Yeyen Tumena, they failed to go international.

PSSI, though, has continued to insist that sending players to a country with a good youth development system is still the best option for now.

“The Uruguay Project is on the right track,” PSSI president Nurdin Halid said. “You can see the boys’ skills are improving, and when the time comes they will make a world-class national team.”

But last year the Under-19 team, comprised of kids who had played in Uruguay for two years, failed to reach the 2010 AFC U-19 Championship, even though Indonesia hosted its qualifying group.

The team’s coach, Cesar Payovich, warned against expecting instant results. “After all, they were just training for two years.”

“Give me two more years and, if the boys show determination and discipline, I promise Indonesia will see a much better team,” the Uruguayan coach added.

He cited Tri Windu Anggono’s achievement as he was named the best goalkeeper in the Quinta, or Under-17, Division by the Uruguayan Football Association (AUF) last season.

Payovich brought 26 players this time, including five new players, dropping four from the previous squad.

Manager Demis Djamaoeddin said competition to make and stay on the squad would motivate the players.

“We have assessment from the beginning, and the boys know they’re replaceable,” Demis said.

The National Team Body dropped four players — Dimas Galih Pratama, Imam Agus Faisal, Sahlan Sodik and Syaiful Bachri Ohorela — from the last squad. In their place it added five new players — Aris Wahyu Nugroho, Manahati Lestusen, Muhamad Arsyad, Ahmad Resal Oktavian and I Wayan Julian Arimbawa Hotzel.

Joining the Uruguayan Project has become the ultimate dream for young footballers around the country.

Resal might be a good example, as he went through three selection processes before finally being selected this year.

“I’m happy as finally I was able to make the team. But I don’t want to get too excited. The most important thing is playing well and keeping my place on the team,” the 16-year-old native of Bangkalan, Madura, said. -JG.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Slovakian Tigers

The Slovakian Division One League has emerged as the answer to the quandary which has been facing the Harimau Muda 'A' team for the last several weeks.

The Malaysian Under-21 squad was faced with non-action for the 2010 season when the FA of Malaysia (FAM) decided not to allow them to play in the M-League but instead look to playing abroad for the exposure - in this case, the S-League.

But following the decision by the FA of Singapore in turning down Harimau Muda A’s application, the team was faced with an uncertain future - until the agreement from the FA of Slovakia.

Harimau Muda 'A' have been confirmed to play 14 competitive matches in the Slovakian Division One - a rung lower than the Slovakian Super League.

The team will be expected to be in Slovakia from February to May 2010 in the city of Vion.

“We have received the agreement from the Slovakian FA to accept our youth side for that duration,“ said Datuk Seri Redzuan Tan Sri Sheikh Ahmad, the deputy president of the FAM.

“Apart from the S-League, there were two or three other competitions which were part of our planning. We were in discussion with them and as far as the costs of their stay there is concerned, we do not have any problem in meeting those requirements.

“All these to ensure that Harimau Muda stay competitive until December before we make our decision to put them in the local league.“

Other than matches in the Slovakian League, the Harimua Muda 'A' squad will also be playing in three international matches during their sojourn in Vion.

“After their stint in May, we have also received invitations from US Football to take part in the Obama Cup in Michigan and then to be followed by the Newspaper Cup in Vietnam in October,” he added.

Please save taekwondo

Representatives of the suspended Malaysian Taekwondo Association (MTA) will submit a memorandum soonest possible to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak to find ways to resolve the crisis in the sports body.

And, hopefully an investigation will be launched to identify those responsible for instigating and causing the sport to suffer.

Its former president Raja Taharuddin Raja Nong Chik said the memorandum would state their disappointment over the announcement by the ad hoc committee on the formation of Taekwondo Malaysia (TM) to take over the role of MTA.

"The ad hoc committee was only tasked with resolving MTA's internal crisis and not set up a new association," he said after attending a meeting with seven state taekwondo associations in Kuala Lumpur, Monday.

Raja Taharudin whose membership in the ad hoc committee was suspended last September over his issuing a press statement on the ad hoc committee, said: "In my opinion, the ad hoc committee had failed in its ways to tackle the crisis. Now it wants to set up a new association, Taekwondo Malaysia."

He said under the ad hoc committee, the MTA and its members had adhered to every condition in the pledge of promise.

"The ad hoc committee had ordered for an annual general meeting to be convened last Oct 24 with each delegation agreeing to amend the association's constitution.

Present at the news conference were president of the Selangor Taekwondo Association Datuk Dr Yusof Hashim and his deputy Eddie Tuan, and the presidents and representatives of seven state associations affiliated to MTA.

MTA, the national governing body for taekwondo and is affiliated to the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF), was de-registered by Elyas on May 6, 2005 but later reinstated by Youth and Sports Minister then, Datuk Azalina Othman Said.

Copies of the memorandum will also be submitted to Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin as the chairman of the Cabinet Committee on Sports, Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Ahmad Shabery Cheek and Sports Commissioner Datuk Nik Mahmud Nik Yusof.