Sunday, July 5, 2009

YB KJ and I, part deux

"PEKAK ke (are you guys deaf)?” the son-in-law of the Prime Minister blurted out in a Press conference at Wisma FAM in 2008. It was obvious he could not control his temper over leading questions from the Press. I reckoned the pekak ke treatment was meant for Ahmad Khawari Isa and Christopher Raj, who were incessant in grilling Khairy Jamaluddin, Datuk Redzuan Sheikh Ahmad and Datuk Azzuddin Ahmad over numerous in-house issues in FAM.

As journalists, we knew at that particular period KJ was under tremendous pressure politically. The General Election was just around the corner and here we were, the sports journos, compounding his woes, making life difficult for one of the nation's most brilliant young minds (some said most powerful too).

It came as quite a shock for us. A YB-aspirant saying pekak ke to the Press, in a PC? Khawari, Chris and I looked at each other, perhaps a tad disgusted over KJ's condescending attitude.

KJ has always had reservations about me and I could sense that whenever our paths crossed. He does not need any reminding of my stand against MyTeam when the reality show and everybody connected to it began to sell the idea as if they were the saviours of Malaysian football. Bah!

A few days after the not-so friendly face off with the Malaysian Under-20 squad on May 28, 2006, MyTeam held a PC. As he welcomed the Press corp, I was told he had said something to this effect: “Mana Malay Mail nih, selalu bantai MyTeam, bila kita buat PC tak datang, pondan...

KJ had an avenue to rebut or get back at his detractors through his column Out of the Cage in New Straits Times (eh how come his column was stopped, ah? I seldom missed it). My article in the Malay Mail appeared on May 29 under the heading Majority lost the plot. He did not waste any time to refute my claims. Here are extracts of his column which appeared in NST on June 3, 2006.

When both teams came off the field, the final score was quintessentially Malaysian. Neither team "lost". The national side may have won the game, but their margin and style of victory robbed them of the moral high ground.

MyTeam lost on the field but preserved the tremendous public goodwill that they had generated by fighting right to the final whistle – a distinctly un-Malaysian trait these days.

Apart from MyTeam's success as a television show (consistently high ratings that would put most reality TV shows to shame) and progress as a football team, it also presents us with some issues and lessons that must be addressed and learnt.

There were those who were puzzled and angry that the majority of the 70,000 crowd at the stadium were supporting MyTeam and not Malaysia. I suspect that most of the 3.5 million viewers watching the game on TV were also wearing the MyTeam blue and not the Malaysia yellow. Some said the majority "lost the plot"; others just called them unpatriotic.

How idiotic. Firstly, it was unfortunate that the Malaysian lads got the reception they did. It was rightly pointed out that they were paying for the failures of their predecessors. But to question the sanity or loyalty of those who chose to support MyTeam is to bark up the wrong tree.

People supported MyTeam not because they were against the national side. I believe every single MyTeam supporter out there wants to see Malaysia excel in world football. But on that night, they supported MyTeam as a manifestation of decades of disappointment with the national team. They didn't "lose the plot" but were sending a clear message that we need to get our act together fast.

As for the pea-brained political opportunists who suggested that MyTeam supporters were unpatriotic, I would just like to point out the obvious fact that MyTeam players are just as Malaysian as those who wore yellow that night. It would be an affront to them and their families for anyone to suggest otherwise. MyTeam was never intended to challenge the Football Association of Malaysia or to turn Malaysians against the national team. Never. I would not allow that to happen.

As someone who has supported Manchester United all my life, I am proud to say the only game in which I didn't support them and even shouted against them was when they played Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur a few years ago. National interest and national pride are paramount.

MyTeam was designed to get people excited about local football again and challenge the grip that English and European football have on our national soccer psyche. It was created to find new talent and remind the authorities that we need to improve our development programmes and scouting system. It set out to demonstrate to the private sector that investing in local football is worthwhile in terms of corporate social responsibility and returns on investment.

On all these counts, I believe MyTeam has succeeded.
The issue is not "unpatriotic" fans or that MyTeam is a just a TV show without real solutions to real problems. The issue is that football has remained the number one sport in this country throughout our dark and gloomy years of failure on the pitch and we owe it to ourselves to do something about it.

With respect to other sports, I have always believed that football is inextricably linked to national pride. That's why the stakes are so high. MyTeam got us talking about doing something again. MyTeam got us looking at our own game again and thinking about how we can improve it. The critics may have dismissed this as entertainment, but it has set the wheels in motion for improvements to take place.

As for the boys of MyTeam, they will be back. I promised them that their journey will continue and, hopefully, it will progress along with a new renaissance in Malaysian football. They deserve to carry on their journey. On Sunday, they showed what passion and pride was about. They knew, and I most certainly knew, that the whole experiment could explode in our faces.

A thrashing, and we would be history and the laughing stock of the entire nation for months to come. It was the realisation of what was on the line that made us go in eyes wide open with our hearts on our sleeves. They fought until the end because they knew what was at stake.

Robert Kennedy once said, "Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly."
It was this lesson - never to be scared of a challenge, never to take the path of least resistance and always to put your money where your mouth is - that may prove to be the most important thing we learn from MyTeam.

Today we are told MyTeam has lodged an appeal to FAM to withdraw from the league and cease its operations. The end has come for MyTeam. But YB KJ will be back, stronger, I suspect, but this time more respectful of others, more media savvy and less condescending! Honest!


Anonymous said...

awal awal dah bodek ..... one of the nation's most brilliant young minds (some said most powerful too).


Sekarang acid test untuk ngkau. Hang adalah orang yang 'anti MyTeam' sejak mula.

Hang kena komen mengenai kemelut Myteam yang muflis ni.

Khabarnya Che Mat Jusoh menolak permohonan Myteam tarik diri daripada Piala Malaysia.

Hang ingat, kalau pak lah masih berkuasa, adakah che mat 'berani' berkata tidak kepada permohonan ini?

Pun mungkin tidak timbul langsung penarikkan diri kalu pak lah masih lagi PM. Hang 'tau saja la'

Pada aku KJ, walaupun 'tidak lagi bersama MyTeam secara langsung' - dia dah cuci tangan, tak mahu pikul biawak hidup' - dia harus bertanggungjawab kepada pasukan ini khususnya masa depan pemain yang dia begitu bangga sekali.

Elok juga kalu hang dapat ceritakan serba sedikit sebab-sebab penubuhan Myteam - adakah kerana komesial, nak bantu maju bola sepak negara, atau lebih kepada tindakan politik.

Kalu hang tuleh isu ni barulah karan! Gua respek lu bro. jangan takut KJ tak leh buat apa ngan hang

Anonymous said...

kalau la MYTeam menjadi seperti Newcastle atau liverfool opps Liverpool alangkah baiknya. Satu kelab yang dibina berasaskan passion dan bukanya politic semata-mata. Di Malaysia semuanya berkisar kepada siapa kenal siapa bukaan siapa buat apa. kalau buat bagus tapi tak kenal sapa tiada gunanya. itu lah reality bola sepak negara

Sang Kuriang

Anonymous said...

Sang Kuriang,

Malang sekali di Malaysia setakat passion tiada siapa akan pandang.

Kalau betul nak tengok tentang passion memang banyak yang ada malangnya tak siapa pun bagi perhatian.

Ada kita baca atau tonton liputan aktiviti sukan yang hidup berterusan semata-mata atas passion?


Anonymous said...

Kajang Bertempat budak LC dah tulis cam ni kira baik la tu. Bukan semua orang menyokong penubuhan MyTeam dan bukan semua orang anti-National Team masa tu. Heran den, cam no GLC seperti Telekom boleh kasi lulus permohonan nak buek MyTeam ni dulu. FAM pun satu bangang, terutama Pengerusi J/Kuasa Pertandingan, belum pa-pa lagi MyTeam dah diiktiraf sebagai team yang qualified dalam Piala Malaysia. Loh ni Pengerusi poning kepalo sebab nak atur jadual Piala M'sia kalau MyTeam tarik diri. Tu la Den koba dah banyak sangat buek cetusan idea sampai melambak-lambak dan tak tau mano satu nak dipakainya. Den raso budak KJ ni ada dan banyak muslihat..sekarang tak nampak laie tapi esok lusa ekao jangan terkejut dia muncul dengan 'sesuatu' yang baru. Dia dulik apo kalau team tu nak bungkuih ka atau telingkup ka yang ponting loh ni dia kena selamatkan diri utk political survival dia. Penubuhan MyTeam sah dan sohih KOMERSIL takda kena mengena eeh dengan kemajuan bola sepak negara. Itupun ekao tak bolih baca ko? Anyway Mr LC part duex ekao ni kurang umpph..

Anonymous said...

It shows how shallow some people are and can be ...politicians especiallly...they forget that life is about ada masa air pasang and air surut. looks like KJ will be experiencing political and sports surut.

Anonymous said...

Banyak orang di FAM tak boleh tahan cara Khawari, Loose Canon dan Chris menanyakan soalan, sidang akhbar di FAM sekarang bukan macam dulu lagi.. ada yang datang dan tanya satu dua, soalan itupun soalan yang bodoh ... wartawan sekarang tak berjiwa sukan, sama macam KJ la !

Jenderata Veteran said...

Penarikan diri MyTeam dalam Msia Cup nanti tak kan bawak apa-apa kesan pada team tu. KIta kena ingat, kemasukan MYTeam dalam Liga M bukan atas kapasiti team itu sendiri tetapi 'meminjam atau 'memakai' kelayakan yang ada pada team UPB Perak atau nama dulu Jenderata FC. Myteam tak layak main dlm liga M, so dia 'beli' team UPB.

Yang kena gantung nanti UPB dan bukan Myteam.

Ini sama dengan kes Shahzan Muda di mana kelab itu menggunakan kelayakan Kuantan Port.

coretan_khalayak said...

bila beruk diberi bola apa dia tau buat , kalau di bagi pisang bolehla dia buat makan - Khairy Jembalang perosak bola Malaysia ... sampai bila - tak taulah..

Anonymous said...

Saudara Rizal,

You were not the only one yang berani hentam dia masa Myteam 1 lwn Malaysia,..You also had backing from a state own TV yang turut berani hentam YB Rembau time tu, sehingga dia bergegas ke stesen terbabit..:)