HOPE ONLY IF...

Changes needed across the board, not only at the top

New Straits Times - - Sport -

THE change that many have wanted has taken place in the FA of Malaysia (FAM) as Tunku Is­mail Sul­tan Ibrahim is the new pres­i­dent, re­plac­ing Tengku Ab­dul­lah Sul­tan Ah­mad Shah.

A po­ten­tially di­vi­sive fight was avoided when Ke­lan­tan FA ad­viser Tan Sri An­nuar Musa with­drew from the race yes­ter­day.

For the long suf­fer­ing fans, Tunku

Is­mail is the per­fect in­di­vid­ual to lead FAM as he has changed the land­scape of Jo­hor foot­ball with his ideas, and his com­mit­ment has played a ma­jor part in Darul Ta’zim’s dom­i­nance of Malaysian foot­ball these last few years.

Suc­cess in Jo­hor, how­ever, was achieved due to Tunku Is­mail’s abil­ity to get his team to work on the same wave­length as him and the chal­lenge now for the Jo­hor Crown Prince is to get the same kind of team­work at the FAM level.

For a start, the 39 del­e­gates who will at­tend the FAM congress to­mor­row must ini­ti­ate the change that Malaysian foot­ball des­per­ately needs.

The power to elect the new pres­i­dent may have been taken out of their hands but in cel­e­brat­ing Tunku Is­mail’s vic­tory, one hopes that it won’t lead to a sit­u­a­tion where he will be the sole per­son re­spon­si­ble for Malaysian foot­ball.

The ma­jor rea­son why Malaysian foot­ball is in dire straits is that too many peo­ple have not ful­filled their re­spon­si­bil­i­ties de­spite cov­et­ing po­si­tions in as­so­ci­a­tions — be it at the state or na­tional lev­els.

There is no deny­ing that Malaysian foot­ball is rot­ten — the con­tin­ued fail­ures of the var­i­ous na­tional teams prove that — but Tunku Is­mail on his own is not go­ing to be able to ar­rest the de­cline and plot a way up.

Just like a good foot­ball team, the new pres­i­dent will need his team­mates to do their part for if they don’t, noth­ing is go­ing to hap­pen.

The 39 del­e­gates who will de­cide on the other FAM po­si­tions all hold places of power in their re­spec­tive as­so­ci­a­tions and some will even be elected at to­mor­row’s congress.

Those who are elected will pledge to­tal com­mit­ment to the na­tional cause but that won’t mean a thing if there is not go­ing to be a change in how FAM’s af­fil­i­ates govern them­selves.

FAM can only change for the bet­ter if their af­fil­i­ates do so and this is some­thing that they can no longer shy away from.

FAM gen­eral sec­re­tary Datuk Hamidin Amin was spot on when he said on Wednesday that there have been many things the na­tional body have done right over the years but it is the na­tional team’s per­for­mances which is the ul­ti­mate yard­stick for suc­cess.

Foot­ball is an in­dus­try which feeds thou­sands but can we name one Malaysian player who we be­lieve can ply his trade in ma­jor Euro­pean leagues?

The M-League dom­i­nates Malaysian foot­ball and the an­nual wheel­ing and deal­ing of play­ers shows just how se­ri­ously the af­fil­i­ates take it but why then are the na­tional team whip­ping boys on the international stage?

The an­swer lies with the af­fil­i­ates as the play­ers com­ing through the ranks are medi­ocre but this is no fault of theirs.

The play­ers are prod­ucts of the sys­tem and un­til and un­less FAM’s af­fil­i­ates take a good hard look at them­selves and ini­ti­ate changes in how they de­velop and man­age the game, the na­tional team will strug­gle at even the South­east Asian level.

The change at the very top has hap­pened but can there be change across the board?

Only FAM’s af­fil­i­ates can an­swer this and if they get the an­swer wrong, no one can save Malaysian foot­ball.

There is no deny­ing that Malaysian foot­ball is rot­ten — the con­tin­ued fail­ures of the var­i­ous na­tional teams prove that — but Tunku Is­mail on his own is not go­ing to be able to ar­rest the de­cline and plot a way up. Just like a good foot­ball team, the new pres­i­dent will need his team­mates to do their part for if they don’t, noth­ing is go­ing to hap­pen.

The na­tional team are un­der pres­sure to de­liver.

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