The decision of the Sarawak Football Association (FA) to withdraw from the national football arena for three years beginning next season is the best move to prevent the association from incurring more debt which now stands at RM3 million since 1995.
Sarawak FA secretary Mohd Abu Bakar Marzuki said although some people described the decision as bringing down the integrity of Sarawak football and giving a bleak future for the sport in the state, it was an appropriate decision before things became worse for the association.
"The Sarawak team is like a leaking ship, and we have to drop anchor to repair the leak because we know that we will sink if we go on," he said in an exclusive interview with Bernama, here.
He said the Sarawak FA would hold a meeting with the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) on Monday to inform the parent body about Sarawak's withdrawal in the league organised by the FAM next season.
Abu Bakar said the Sarawak FA had its own plans with the focus on the club championship at the division level as well as the Sarawak Cup.
The Sarawak FA, with the cooperation of the State Ministry of Social Development and Urbanisation, has a five-year development plan for football and the focus is on the development at the school level up to the 18-year-old youths.
"The perception that we will hang our boots when we withdraw is not correct because we will continue to concentrate on the development of football at the division and local club levels," he said.
In addition, Abu Bakar said the development of the Sarawak team would also go on and the Sarawak FA had already received support from football clubs in West Australia which were willing to give a chance to local players to train there.
He said Sarawak also planned to take part in friendly matches if there were offers from clubs in the peninsula or Singapore.
However, he said the Sarawak FA was prepared to shorten the withdrawal from FAM tournaments if there were sponsors who were willing to help the FA in settling its debts.