DELEGATES to the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) Congress this Sunday at Holiday Inn Glen Marie will be making a crucial decision, one which will either take Malaysian football to a higher pedestal or a fatal one.
This election will decide the journey Malaysian football takes in the course of the next four years.
FAM president, His Royal Highness Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah has been at the helm of the national body since 1984 but now faces a two-cornered battle for the presidency post. On his right corner is the ever-reliable and charismatic HRH Tengku Abdullah, his prodigal son, whose tireless energy in the sport knows no boundary.
While in the left corner is HRH Tunku Ismail Ibrahim, who has been at the centre of Johor Darul Takzim’s rise in the Super League amid recent ‘off field hiccups’ which did not go down too well with the powers in Wisma FAM.
This could be the closest contest in the history of FAM, unless in the next 48 hours, one of the three withdraws from the race.
Both Tengku Abdullah and Tunku Ismail have their good qualities and virtues. They are good men who have the interest of Malaysian football at heart.
However, on a personal note, I believe Tengku Abdullah is the right choice to put FAM in the ‘path that it deserves’ to be. With his idea, vision and mission, he will be able to transform the association by taking a giant step forward.
As Rome was not build in one day, time is the essential factor here that will determine changes to the current structure in FAM and putting in place a system which will see positive results from the administrative level to the national teams. Give him that luxury to turn things around!
As the Vice-President of the Asian Football Confederation and a member of the FIFA board, Tengku Abdullah will surely bring his vast experience to improve football in the country.
His immense work at Malaysian Hockey Confederation as president is a testament of his qualities. Hockey has not really moved up the ladder and ranks in the last five years, has not been financially sound, and the performance of the national teams has been nothing to shout about. The celebrations, in fact, died since 1974 when Malaysia finished fourth in the Kuala Lumpur World Cup.
Today, the senior team will be competing in the World Cup after a hiatus of 12 years following their success in the World League in Johor Baru. The team left for The Hague, Netherlands, yesterday.
And early this month, the seniors also gave a splendid performance against World No. 6 New Zealand to win 5-4 on penalty shootouts in the quarterfinals of the Pahang Hockey Champions Challenge 1 before going on to win a bronze medal.
The national juniors, on the other hand, finished fourth at the Junior World Cup in New Delhi, India last December. This is truly a success story of ‘The President and his Men’. It speaks volumes of Tengku Abdullah’s sincerity, commitment and dedication towards whatever he embarks on.
He sincerely wanted things done the right way to improve Malaysian hockey as well, though there are no sure perfect remedies to most problems. There will never be but improvements can be made to see a positive move forward.
Now with all this achievements, I am certain Tengku Abdullah will surely make the necessary changes in FAM if given the mandate by delegates. Heads may also roll in Wisma FAM! Those who underestimated Tengku Abdullah’s ability due to his ‘kindness and soft heart’ may need to rebrand their perception.
For the record, it was Tengku Abdullah who pushed for a revamp of football in Malaysia. His vision of Malaysian clubs accepting and implementing the AFC Club licensing concept, which is the way forward, will help states and clubs to be independent of financial woes.
Giving out a yearly subsidy of RM3 million to state FAs’ is not a way forward. We must come out of this ‘subsidy’ mentality as a grant to move forward can be considered but it is not an ideal projection of a long term plan.
The Malaysian fans are clamouring for a quick-fix solution to lift Malaysian football out of the doldrums. Unfortunately there’s none. Even English club Manchester United did not get that equation right replacing Alex Ferguson with David Moyes!
Fans are anxious to see the national team ranking improve, respected pool of referees and a better administrative system. But what they don’t understand is that the various committees in the administration are responsible for various development projects.
It is these very people that the delegates’ pick ultimately are appointed into various committees. As such, if we want a better refereeing structure and development it is obvious we need a chairman who is dedicated to this position. There must be no room for politics.
You can’t expect the FAM President to go down to the committee level to sort things out. Everyone plays his role, right from the chairman to his committee members.
The election of two deputy presidents will also be a closely contested fight. A total of 10 candidates have been nominated by delegates for the two positions.
Personally, Dato’ Seri Subahan Kamal and Dato’ Affendi Hamzah should make the cut. Not many are aware out there that Subahan has dug deep into his own pocket many times as manager of the national team for the welfare of players. He is indeed a committed official who ensures the needs of players are taken care.
Affendi, a lawyer by profession, played an important role in the Legal and Statute Committee in FAM. Subahan’s biggest problem, however, in this election is he faces Selangor FA deputy president, Dato’ Mokhtar Ahmad. It is unlikely the delegates will pick both deputy presidents from the same state.
The task is certainly not going to be any easier for Tengku Abdullah should he win the presidency post. Having known him for several years, I’m confident Tengku Abdullah will make the changes provided he gets a team of hardworking Executive Committee appointed. Otherwise, we will be hearing the same old tunes over and over again.
Gentlemen, the future of Malaysian football is in your hands. The right decision will only mean FAM will be heading into the right direction. The FA of Malaysia is in need of direction in many areas, and only one person can provide that path, Tengku Abdullah.