Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Pitching through sports

MADRID - the spiritual home of Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka, Zinedine Zidane and Alfredo Di Stefano. Rio de Janeiro - the land of the samba that gave the world arguably the greatest ever team not to win the World Cup, Tele Santana's Class of 1982. Tokyo - the land of the Rising Sun. And Chicago. All four cities are bidding to host the 2016 Olympic Games, the biggest sporting extravaganza in the universe.

The chieftains in the International Olympic Committee (IOC), one of them Malaysia's Tunku Imran Tuanku Ja'afar, will exercise their right to vote and pick the city in Copenhagen on Friday. It's the homestraight, the final dash for the right to stage the money-spinning Games that would help fill the country's coffers.

So much so even the US president Barack Obama is making a dash for it as he joins a team that includes Oprah Winfrey and more than a dozen gold medallists to pitch for Chicago's bid.

Obama's decision is unprecedented. No US President had ever made such a trip to cajole and plead on his country's behalf.

Though he could find himself being rejected, Obama realises as the chief executive of his nation, he is in a position to influence the outcome. He is the best salesman for the job. Much like the way Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, with the help of Tan Sri Basir Ismail, did in getting Bernie Ecclestone to award the Formula1 Grand Prix to Sepang in 1999.

Sports is the platform. Likewise Datuk Seri Najib Razak is probably taking the same route through 1Malaysia F1 Team.

Though I hate to see the 1Malaysia brand being attached to anything remotely Malaysia and Malaysian, I could sense that the ultimate aim is to provide Malaysians the opportunity to further ourselves in the world of technology. Imagine 6,000 applicants applied for 225 job vacancies with the 1Malaysia F1 team. Read here.

Malik Mydin 0 Daud Abu Kassim 0

Skripnya bermula begini - Wira Samudera, Datuk Abdul Malik Mydin, mencetak gol pembukaan apabila ditabal selaku presiden Persatuan Lumba Basikal Kuala Lumpur pada 25 Julai lalu, sambil dibekalkan peluru oleh pelumba yang mewakili negara di Sukan Olimpik 1972, Fazin Saad. 1-0.

Timbalan Presiden yang digulingkan, Daud Abu Kassim, pengasas PLBKL pada 1979, mengatur serangan balas dengan mengutarakan empat hujah - penetapan tarikh mesyuarat agung tidak mendapat persetujuan ahli majlis, mesyuarat agung pemilihan diadakan ketika laporan kewangan belum disiapkan untuk diaudit, bendahari tidak menerima yuran tahunan dan keahlian yang dipertikaikan.

Ia boleh dikira sebagai jaringan penyamaan yang tertunda sehingga pengadil yang juga Pesuruhjaya Sukan, Datuk Nik Mahmud Nik Yusof, meniup wisel lalu menganggap gol Malik dan rakan-rakan sepasukannya tidak sah, menerusi kenyataannya kepada Joe Marcose di sini.

Sebaik jaringan itu dibatalkan, Daud yang kecewa dengan sikap pihak tertentu yang disifatkan sebagai berkepentingan peribadi, menyeru keharmonian rumah tangga PLBKL dikekalkan, katanya di sini.

Niat Malik baik. Namun untuk menjaringkan gol, sama ada dari sepakan sudut, sepakan percuma, penalti ataupun rembatan jarak jauh, kita tidak boleh melanggar undang-undang permainan. Tidak boleh pegang bola, tidak boleh menjatuhkan lawan dengan sengaja dan membuat bentesan keras dari belakang!

Daud pula yang dari dulu banyak mengeluarkan duitnya sendiri dalam menjalankan kegiatan PLBKL, seorang yang cukup teliti dalam urusan dan peraturan permainan. Kepada pengadil Nik Mahmud, tahniah.

Raya to remember

Sime Darby's Othman Abu Bakar, formerly with Business Times, TV3 and The Edge, with his grand-nephews and niece

Under interrogation from a lecturer and his civil servant brother, loose cannon tries to evade all questions on sports

The Malay Mail's Azman Abdul Ghani (in white) and wifey, KTMB corporate comm SGM, Shahriza Embi (in black), tucking away

So-po blogger marahku.blogspot.com and loose cannon's father-in-law discussing politics

Make a date with SHA

Salamon (centre, front row) and on his left, Kuganeson

As the Selangor Hockey League is four days away, the Selangor HA has gone into full speed in finalising and putting the finishing touches to the league, said SHA vice-president, Kuganeson Poologasingam.

Sandwiched between the end of the Raya break and a week before the league begins were a number of activities arranged to ensure a smooth running of the league. The Competition Committee chaired by SHA deputy president, Datuk Subahan Kamal, successfully organised and carried out the following activities:

* Technical Official's Seminar at Dewan Kuliah Pandamaran Sports Complex on Sept 26. Seminar was conducted by MHF Representative, course facilitator/instructor, Brian Fernandez. Over 24 people attended the seminar and 16 of them are newcomers who will be doing their practical during the Selangor League. The purpose of this seminar was to ensure uniformity and bring all
participants on the same page with regards to the latest policy and procedures relating to match management. All these will be implemented during the Selangor league.

* A fitness test for all umpires involved in the League followed by a briefing by the Selangor Hockey Association Umpires Board Chairman, Surjit Singh.

* Briefing & Team Managers Meeting to trash out any issues, chaired by Kuganeson. SHA president Datuk Salamon Salamat was present to give the welcoming and opening speech. Also present was Tournament Director T. Paramalingam.

"The Press has been invited to cover the matches. We urge hockey fans in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur to come and be part of the fun. Entrance is free," said Kuganeson.

There are eight teams in Division 1 and 12 in Division 2. Log on to www.sha.com.my, maintained by Kuganeson, for further details.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Turned over...

Aku menghulurkan salam lebaran dan rasa simpati amat mendalam kepada saudara pengendali blog ini yang bersulam dengan kata-kata sinis, pedas dan lebih "garang" daripada aku.

Tidak lama dahulu, dia "membelasah" aku dalam blognya. Menuduh aku dengan kata-kata indah syahdu. Bacalah di sini.

Susulan itu, akupun menukilkan warkah terbuka kepada seorang politikus yang kutulis dalam bentuk satira tetapi disalah tafsir ramai pihak. Bacalah di sini.

Aku tidak berhasrat memanjangkan isu ini, sekadar mengingatkan kawan-kawan agar kita memahami erti perjuangan dan dasar yang kita perjuangkan! Kelak nanti kebenaran terserlah! Tuhan lebih mengetahui!

Apapun, barangkali mudah benar juak-juak politikus kita di"turnover"kan! Bacalah di sini.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Sultan Ahmad Shah to quit

In a recent tete-a-tete with loose cannon, Sultan Ahmad Shah hinted that he would be relinquishing the presidency of the FA of Malaysia (FAM), a position His Highness has held since 1984. His Highness' term ends next year.

This would probably allow FAM to make a clean break and empower the next president and his men with the executive powers to impose changes or revamp the whole system without interference from State FAs or politicians.

My personal pick is for Sultan Ahmad Shah's eldest son, Tengku Abdullah, to take over the mantle. Why him, one might ask. For one Tengku Abdullah, a vice-president in 1984 and later deputy president until he quit in 2007 following the Asian Cup debacle, remains a strong advocate of club football and the idea of the MSL Sdn Bhd, the marketing arm of FAM, running the M-League.

There's also another candidate trying to win over the hearts and minds of those who matter - the State FAs who vote the office-bearers in - Kelantan FA president and former Sports Minister, Tan Sri Annuar Musa. Read between the lines here.

Loose cannon has nothing against politicians but let's support individuals who do not use the association's money to further their interests. Sultan Ahmad Shah and Tengku Abdullah are known to spend their own money.

Ideally, Tengku Abdullah should be assisted by someone in the mould of Windsor John, a FIFA expert in football development. Read Ahmad Khawari Isa's take here and jaihomalaysia's inside knowledge here.

1.With Tengku Abdullah providing direction and Windsor to implement things, there will be no more building the house from the roof! FAM will then subscribe to the maxim management is doing the things right, leadership is doing the right things.

More on the micro level later. Read also Joe Marcose's take here and his tribute here.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Salam lebaran


Ramadan al Mubarak berlalu pergi, Syawal menjelma lagi. Tidak cukup rasanya ibadahku sepanjang Ramadan. Aku berdoa agar usia kita dipanjangkan agar dapat bertemu lagi dengan Ramadan.

Kuhulurkan salam Eidul Fitri, 10 jari disusun memohon kemaafan, kepada keluarga, saudara mara dan sahabat handai di Johor, Melaka dan Singapura serta Kedah dan di mana jua, pengunjung blog ini, sahabat-sahabat di Intranet Profile Sdn Bhd, Kosmo!, New Straits Times, Berita Harian, Harian Metro, The Malay Mail, kumpulan Utusan, Radio dan Televisyen Malaysia, khususnya warga program Wisel Penamat dan Sebelum Wisel, rangkaian Media Prima, Astro, Sports and Event Network (SEN), Manjafilms Sdn Bhd, warga sukan, keluarga pentadbir di Kementerian Belia dan Sukan dan agensi di bawahnya, Majlis Sukan Negara, Majlis Olimpik Malaysia, Persatuan Bola Sepak Malaysia (FAM), LD Sports Sdn Bhd, rakan-rakan sepersekolahan di St John's dan semua rakan-rakan di Facebook.

Ikhlas daripada loose cannon, bagi pihak keluarganya.

Q and A with YB Minister

Is the one with the red pen taking down notes or being given instructions? Picture courtesy of Ahmed Faisal Jamal at fjjournal.blogspot.com


Loose cannon was granted a question-and-answer session with Sports Minister, Datuk Ahmad Shabery Cheek, recently. The interview will be carried by the EPL pullout in Kosmo!

Soal jawab dengan Shabery boleh didapati dalam sisipan EPLx Kosmo! esok. Dapatkan nashkah anda pada hari terakhir Ramadan al mubarak. Terima kasih kepada setiausaha akhbar Shabery, saudara Hisham Abdul Hamid, yang pernah sama-sama membuat liputan berita dengan loose cannon pada 1996.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Malaysia that I know has no 1 before it...


Hey, we are one Malaysia without having to keep on reminding ourselves of 1Malaysia. Why is it that we have to have 1Malaysia everywhere?

The idea of having Malaysia represented in Formula1 will bring about intangible benefits, for sure but it seems anything and everything that is connected to Malaysia must have the 1Malaysia branding.

Why don't we just stick to Malaysia, our beloved country. As far as loose cannon is concerned, a major portion of his life has always been to espouse the spirit of understanding, tolerance, camaraderie, co-operation and of course, of faith and toil with all, regardless of race and religion. Loose cannon can't help it for he was schooled in St John's, one of Kuala Lumpur's premier schools, which happens to be the alma mater of the man behind 1Malaysia.

Anyway read S.S Dhaliwal's entry here and Joe Marcose's posting here.

Significant Sept 16

The birthday girl, the rose among the thorns, is on the right

"OK, you have two options. Sept 9 or Sept 16," the curt reply from our obstetrician and former Berita Minggu columnist, Dr Fauziah Hassan.

The beauty of elective C-section is that we can pre-schedule the childbirth. But it was not by choice that Intan has to go through three C-sections to deliver our three kids.

Nur Alfiyyah is four today because I made the decision to welcome her to the world on Malaysian Day instead of her late paternal grandfather's birthday a week earlier. The reason being, I wanted the whole family to celebrate, commemorate and appreciate a significant date in Malaysian history. But Intan claims she opted for the date because she wanted to complete her schoolwork before delivery!

One of the first individuals to send me a congratulatory note for becoming a father for a second time was former national football coach, Bertalan Bicskei, who celebrates his birthday on Sept 17.

Nur Alfiyyah's birth meant a lot to me. She was conceived a year after doctors confirmed Intan's cancer of the colon had gone into remission.

The thousand light (the meaning of Nur Alfiyyah) came into our lives at the height of my run-ins with Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said, of which I received little support from the editorial powers-that-be. Most of the executives are no longer in the New Straits Times group! Hah! I clearly remember the sentiment then, that I was pursuing a personal agenda or vendetta against a politician! Apalah...bingai ka?
Former FA of Malaysia general secretary Datuk Seri Dr Ibrahim Saad, my fellow Leo, often likes to see things differently.

Around that time, his favourite question to me was "Eh, nama anak hang Azalina ka?". He would be repeating this question each time our paths crossed!

Monday, September 14, 2009

KBS-SAM awards, Pulitzer-style

The Sportswriters Association of Malaysia (SAM) will give due recognition to its members through its annual awards, ala Pulitzer Prize, thanks to the RM100,000 grant from the Sports Ministry. Photos can be accessed at SAM exco member Ahmed Faisal Jamal's blog here and here and of course SAM's blog here.

There's also an education grant for the sportswriting family to undergo fellowships overseas.

"Sportswriting and sports media are crucial components of the sports industry. It is timely that we recognise them in an awards night with a certain degree of prestige attached to it.

"It was pointed out to me that the Malaysian Press Institute (MPI) had dropped the sportswriting category altogether from its annual event. This KBS-SAM award is therefore an opportunity to create a highly anticipated and prestigious award that is modelled after the Pulitzer Prize, " said Sports Minister, Datuk Shabery Cheek, in announcing the grant before a packed ballroom.

He was responding immediately to the speech by SAM president, Ahmad Khawari Isa of Berita Harian, who mooted the KBS-SAM colloboration minutes earlier.

The education grant will be reserved for sports journalism fellowship open to commentators, writers or photographers.

An independent panel will be formed to select the award winners and the sports journalism fellowships, said Shabery.

Later in the press conference, Shabery said he hoped the KBS-SAM colloboration is maintained even if there is a change of leadership at both the Ministry and SAM.


What's inside the goodie bag?

Former president Shaukei Kahar giving his two cents to Khawari

Blogger Christopher Raj (left) catches up with Sports Commissioner, Datuk Nik Mahmud Nik Yusof, while in the background are Shabery's press secretary, Hisham Abdul Hamid and Youth and Sports director-general, Datuk Fathul Razi Bakri and deputy Secretary-General of the Ministry, Borhan Dolah

Shabery's arrival is greeted by (from left) Ahmad Faisal Mat Piah (ex-RTM, partially hidden), Aziman Rosdi (BernamaTV), Fadzrie Hazis (Astro Awani sports editor) and Norismadi Abdul Manap (RTM sports editor)

Shabery listens intently while Khawari conducts his sales pitch

Good for immediate past president, Abu Bakar Atan, to attend the session, flanked by Youth and Sports deputy minister, Wee Jack Seng and the Italian-speaking Datuk Yasin Salleh, Secretary-General of the Ministry.

This picture reminds me of the usual practice for a political party, where new members or those who party-hop submit their membership forms in a packed press conference. Could Bernama's Zulhilmi Supaat be joining Berita Harian? Heh...

Clad in recently-bought baju Melayu, Khawari (left) is fast learning to become the consummate politician

Not to worry, SAM office-bearers are not attending the marriage course, but merely conducting an immediate post-mortem minutes after the Minister left

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Tun Daim writes...


Our gratitude to Tun Daim Zainuddin for sharing his thoughts on football, Newcastle United, Manchester United and sports in general. I believe the article, written by the man himself, was the first of its kind.

Excerpts of the article published by the EPLx pullout in Kosmo! on Saturday...

Saya membayangkan Kuala Lumpur sebagai ibu kota pertembungan bola sepak Eropah, Latin Amerika, Afrika serta Asia.

Kita jadualkan lawatan 16 pasukan ternama seluruh dunia setahun. Manchester City dimiliki jutawan Arab. Kita boleh pelawa mereka bermain di sini, mungkin tidak pada musim panas tahun depan kerana bintang ternama terlibat dalam Piala Dunia.

Mungkinkah seorang daripada kanak-anak yang kita lihat dalam National Little League (Liga Kebangsaan Kanak-kanak) melalui Astro akan membanggakan negara? Saya terpegun melihat kebolehan anak-anak ini. Maaf, saya tak ingat nama mereka. Tetapi ada seorang penyerang yang memakai jersi No 6 yang sudahpun menjaringkan lapan gol. Saya lihat dia ada naluri sebagai penyerang modern seumpama Rooney.

Saya terfikir apakah amalan pemakanan dia? Apakah beliau dibimbing cara mengambil makanan secara professional? Lionel Messi tidak sebesar mana, tetapi dia kental dan langsung tidak gerun pada pemain-pemain yang lebih besar.

Saya sudah melawat beberapa kelab ternama EPL dan terpesona melihat disiplin pemakanan mereka.

Apakah bahan bacaan anak muda yang memakai jersi No 6 itu? Saya tanya mengenai bahan bacaan kerana kita dapati pemain Sepanyol dan Perancis lebih berilmu dan faham persoalan falsafah.

Pembaca sekalian tentu sekali ada mengikuti interviu dengan bekas penyerang Manchester United dan Perancis, Eric Cantona. Bandingkan pula temubual dengan bintang-bintang EPL. Pemain kita harus bijak seperti Cantona.

Saya pernah diusik rakan yang bertanya: “Tun, tak berminatkah beli pasukan ternama EPL?”

Saya sudah 71 tahun. Biarlah mereka yang muda terlibat kerana pengurusan kewangan, jual beli, menyediakan program merchandising, tajaan dan program latihan pemain negara semuanya memerlukan tumpuan sepenuh masa.

Ada yang bertanya mengenai Newcastle United. Satu ketika dulu, memang ada pihak yang saya kenali meninjau kemungkinan ke arah sedemikian tetapi Newcastle kini bermain di Divisyen Satu. Jumlah gaji atau kos saraan pemain terlalu tinggi. Apa jadi sekiranya mereka cedera?

Kelab-kelab Perancis atau Belanda lebih menarik untuk diterokai, pada pandangan saya. Mereka tidak putus-putus menghasilkan bintang baru. Kelab-kelab Perancis dapat menarik minat pemain Afrika dari Franchophone, tanah bekas jajahan Perancis.

Saya sering berkunjung ke Afrika bagi tujuan bisnes. Mana saja ada kawasan lapang, kita lihat anak muda bermain bola. Skil mereka agak luar biasa, serta mereka bertubuh besar.

PFAM - Players First, Association Much later...

Read Tony Mariadass' in-depth take on the recent launch of the Professional Footballer's Association of Malaysia (PFAM) here. Though we have to give the persons behind the idea the benefit of the doubt, we must tread with caution.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Sawasdee Kap, Scouser

UPDATED...oopss, FA of Thailand president Worawi Makudi is eyeing Captain Marvel to replace Peter Reid. Not Darby. Read http://news.asiaone.com/News/Latest%2BNews/Sports/Story/A1Story20090911-167185.html



Former Perak coach Steve Darby who once harboured the ambition of keeping goal for Liverpool, is the new Thailand coach, succeeding 1986 World Cupper, Peter Reid who has decided to return to the English Premiership. An official announcement will made today but S.S. Dhaliwal carried this earlier. Read here.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Till we meet again, Ayah

Ayah with the Tun

Ayah would have turned 72 today. I shall never forget the moment Kak Lin broke the news that Ayah had passed away suddenly, slightly after midnight Dec 20, 1997, 20 Syaaban, 1418.

Hours earlier, shock and sadness enveloped Balai Berita after we were told that former sports editor and renowned writer, Mansoor Rahman, had died of a heart attack while playing tennis.

Mansoor was generous with his encouraging words to me ever since I introduced myself to him in 1991. By right I should be making my way to his residence to pay my last respects. Somehow something was holding me back. I was reluctant to move away from my chair at the subs desk of the Malay Mail.

Husin Rahman, acknowledged as one of the greatest sportswriters of his generation, was asking me “hey come lah, let’s pay our last respects to Mansoor!” The call went unheeded.

It was sometime before 1.0am that I got the call, over extension 3473. No Twitter, no Facebook and of course e-mail was still a foreign word to most Malaysians at that time.

“Adik…(it was Kak Lin on the other line)…in between sobs…Ayah dah tak de (brother, Ayah has gone)…

My world came to a crushing halt. I felt numb. I was lifeless. My mind went blank. Thankfully Husin was there for me. It was Husin who drove me home in my Suzuki Swift. It usually took me 20 minutes to reach home but the trip lasted like a life time.

Ayah died in his sleep. Peacefully, without creating any fuss for his kids. The whole family made the trip to Yong Peng and eventually Kampung Sengkuang, Sri Gading, for the burial. With us was our late Atok who was inconsolable. Mak, her daughter, passed away at the age of 51 three years earlier.

More than 1,000 people from all walks of life paid their last respects to Ayah the next morning. There was a slight drizzle as Ayah’s body was laid to rest.

Ayah was a strict father. While my younger brother Man was the ever filial son, I was the loose cannon of the family, uttering words to Mak and Ayah which are not fit for print here. As a result I often felt the brunt of his loose buckle.

But months prior to his demise, I felt as if I was beginning to renew the bond Ayah and I had while I was in my childhood.

We talked about politics and life in general.

I remember as soon as I could talk, he taught me to memorise the name of my great grandparents by hard – Muhammad Rizal bin Hashim bin Mian bin Sulong bin Gantang bin Bontak…his way of telling me our lineage and roots.

“Ayah dulu pergi sekolah jalan kaki dan kaki ayam saja…zaman Jepun. Riz sekarang beruntung. Ingat. (I walked barefooted to school during the Japanese Occupation…remember you are very lucky)

“Riz kena jaga adik-beradik, siapa lagi nak jaga kalau bukan kita” (You have to take care of your siblings or else who would?”

Being an avid fan of sports, counting tennis, football and badminton as his favourite sports and a qualified level 3 referee, Ayah was supportive of my sporting pursuits though he must have realised I was not cut out for the rigours of the sporting world.

I remember the day when Sheldon Xavier, now a media personality, keeping goal, Zaimi Ridzwan and Harishah Shaari manning the engine room and Acis the musician in attack, representing St Johns 1 and playing SK Padang Tembak at their backyard in 1982.

I was fielded as a right-back by coach Cikgu Azmi. But I was a nervous wreck throughout the game and was eventually replaced. Ayah who was standing behind the goal without me realising, looked disappointed. He took time off to see with his own eyes how I made a fool of myself.

On the few occasions I did manage to make him proud, I did go on stage on Awards Day twice – once as a member of the winning-side in the inter-class football competition, and once as the most improved student in English.

Man who often accompanied Ayah wherever he went, is a blessed child. Man was the winner of the Lembaga Tabung Haji Award and the Tan Sri Kadir Award, as best student for Bachelor of Laws and best student for Bachelor of Laws (Syariah) of the IIUM, as reported by the New Straits Times in November 1997. His convocation was held 26 days before Ayah made the journey to the next life. Mak was pronounced dead shortly after Man recited a few verses of Yaasin at the Kuala Lumpur Hospital on Oct 31, 1994.

The good son and loose cannon

Still, Ayah and Mak nourished my passion for football. They knew when I locked myself inside my room, I was not doing arithmetic or memorizing scientific terms. Instead I let my mind wander and draw figures playing football. I even came up with my own clubs and designs for jerseys.

Football and art, combined

Ayah and Mak would buy me football books, most of them still in mint condition, and replica jerseys from their travels.

Dear Ayah, I am now blessed with a beautiful wife and three boisterous kids, who one day may prove to be a handful as God’s way of testing me for all my sins against Ayah and Mak.


Ayah's grandchildren he never got to meet

May we meet each other in the Hereafter. In the meantime Ayah, rest in peace and may your soul be shown the door to eternal paradise. Al-Fatihah.


The latest addition to the family, Man and Adilah's bundle of joy who was delivered to them after a five-year wait, on Ayah's birthday - 090909 - at the hospital of which Man served as the secretary of the board chaired by Tan Sri Hassan Marican

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Raja on Shakir

Four of the nation's brightest footballing talents are on the cover of the September issue of footy mag, Stadium. From left (clockwise) striker Ahmad Shakir Ali, goalkeeper Muhammad Zamir Selamat, defender Mohd Aidil Zafuan and his twin, attacker Mohd Zaquan Adha Abdul Radzak.

Shakir who shone brightly for Kedah for a fleeting moment before he was called up for the Harimau Muda squad and now the Under-23 team, provided the solitary goal from the three friendlies in the Middle East.

National coach K. Rajagobal has waxed lyrical over Shakir's attacking qualities. In an interview with New Straits Times' Ajitpal Singh, Rajagobal said: "Shakir has everything a perfect striker needs," said Rajagobal.

"He's fast, he's technically gifted and he's excellent on the ball. Shakir is a young lad and if he concentrates on his football, he will go far."

So impressed was Rajagobal with the 19-year-old Shakir that the coach included him in the National Under-23 squad in April.

Though Shakir, who scored 17 goals for Premier League side Young Tigers this season, has yet to start in an international match (featuring only as a substitute in recent friendlies), the young striker has impressed many with his strong presence on the field when given the opportunity.

Shakir was a substitute when the National Under-23 team took on Indonesia, Manchester United and Kenya in recent friendly matches and he provided the extra bite up front, though he did not score.

But Shakir's wait for his first international goal ended on Monday when he scored in Malaysia's 2-1 loss to Saudi Arabia in Riyadh.

"Shakir is a fearless striker. Despite his age, he is not afraid to take on experience defenders. I remember him giving Manchester United defenders a tough time in July," said Rajagobal.

"He is a very exciting player to watch. I believe, in time, he will be a great player." Shakir, if he continues with his performance, will likely feature in the Sea Games in Laos.

The other strikers in the training squad are Zaquan Adha Radzak, Norsharul Izlan Talaha, Farderin Kadir and Ahmad Fakri Shaarani.

Meanwhile, Rajagobal believes his Under-23 squad will reach their full potential as a unit in three years.

"They are improving with every match but it will take another three years before they make it big.

"My players are young and they need the exposure and experience. Of course the immediate target for them will be the Laos Sea Games," he said.

Rajagobal added that he will only set a target for the Sea Games after the draw is released in mid-October.

Selangor hockey goes online!

Selangor hockey has gone online.

Designed by Selangor HA vice-president, the webpage went online on Aug 31 as part and parcel of the drive to promote hockey in the State. The url is www.sha.com.my.

You may ask yourself, "Why Get a Website ? Why do we need a website ...." The internet does not sleep. Information is accessible locally and globally, to prospective visitors 24 hours, 365 days a year. More and more people these days are using the internet as a first post of call because of its convenience and to save time.

In Malaysia, many sports enthusiast and especially hockey lovers seek the internet for hockey news, information, and especially networking. In fact there is hardly an active state hockey website available in the country. We in SHA, aim to change that.

The MISSION & The Goal
www.sha.com.my will be the official website for the State Association. The site will offer a comprehensive collection of information on Selangor Hockey news, developments, events, contact information, reviews, results, forums, links to other hockey websites and sports & hockey equipment providers.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Towkay picks Best, Cruyff and Beckenbauer

Launch of PFAM

Finally the Professional Footballers' Association of Malaysia (PFAM) will be launched. Its reason for being is to protect the interests of the players and provide a shoulder to cry on, if ever they need one. To be launched during a buka puasa session in Shah Alam on Thursday, PFAM's tagline is For the Sake of the Game. PFAM is run by former FA of Malaysia head of the international department, E.R. Subramaniam, as the general secretary.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Uphill task for a sports leader...


The spirit of volunteerism is hard to nurture. Usually it is entirely dependant on the individual, whether or not the passion he has for his chosen field outweighs the demands of the world we live in. And whether he is sincere or not in giving something back to the society without asking anything in return.

There is quite a number of sports officials at grassroots level who are volunteers. Keeping up with the current trend, some of them also decide to share their activities in their blogs. Read vice president of an organisation, darthvadai's reality or failure, first press conference and selangor's role.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

1975 revisited...

I was too young to know what the commotion surrounding the 1975 hockey World Cup was all about...but every journalist interested in sports and sports fans in general must make it a point to learn the combination of factors leading to the historic occasion, the personnel behind the team and the scenario at that particular period. My thanks to Datuk Poon Fook Loke for keeping a scrapbook to remind future generations of the great contributions made by our hockey heroes!

Fook Loke, Khairuddin Zainal and N. Sri Shanmuganathan on the cover of the RTM official magazine. I remember my late grandfather's collection of Gema...


BAGUS! The Malay Mail...


Class of 1975



The then MHF deputy president, Sultan Azlan Shah


One particular person who was a witness to the drama of 1975 is the gentleman on loose cannon's right, a hockey coach who has helped produce countless hockey players and RTM radio sports commentator, Vincent Fernandez. He was once loose cannon's PE teacher at SJI

Read Ian Pereira's recollection in 2002, ahead of the World Cup in Kuala Lumpur.

IT was the late morning of March 11, 1975. The last preliminary round match of the the Third World Cup hockey tournament was all square at one-all at the Kilat Club ground in Jalan Pantai, Kuala Lumpur.

Defending champions Holland were hanging out for their dear lives against Malaysia who were also playing their hearts out for a place in the last four.

Poon Fook Loke, his shoulder-length hair blowing in the breeze, put Malaysia ahead with a 21st minute field goal - 42 minutes before Ties Kruize equalised with a penalty stroke. Fook Loke, a miniature master of feint, swerve and the first-time pass, paraded all the arts of forward play before setting the match on fire.

While Holland clung on to the richest prize in hockey, Malaysia were not going to settle for anything but a place in the semifinals.

Two minutes from time a pin-drop dead silence settled over the vast Kilat Club ground when Frenchman Alain Renaud blew for a shortcorner in Malaysia's favour.

Then almost immediately a tumultuous roar of approval from the throng filled the air following a final knife-edge contest. I saw Louis Gillet peer at his watch as Franco De Cruz walked back for
the push-in. De Cruz crouched over the ball like a prized golfer for a 12-foot putt.

He moved forward to address it. He had always been a reliable push-in man, but here was a test he had never remotely experienced.

There was a collective intake of breath as, distracted still, he broke away. Then the frightening silence again enveloped him and the entire Kilat club.

And so he did. With no more fuss or to-do, D'Cruz took a pace backward, settled for the moment as the seconds ticked away and boldly stroked the ball, firmly straight and true to his waiting captain and fullback N. Sri Shanmuganathan, at the top of the circle.

But there was still some mileage left for dramatics on the Kilat pitch. Settled for the mightiest hit of all-time, Shan tamed the ball, nudged it forward and flashed it into the corner of goal inches above the ground, just outside the reach of Dutch goalkeeper Derak Doyer.

The crowd burst into another roar and this time it was for skipper Shan who had turned the match Malaysia's way with just seconds left. The engaging D'Cruz, now in his mid 50s - still day dreams about the moment in particular.
When I met him in Melbourne, Australia, sometime back, he was all excited talking about it: "I placed the ball and said to myself: `Come on boy, you have got no choice but to get it right. You just can't afford to fail this time round. Anything could have happened. Even the ball could have stopped short. I even said a quick prayer: "God, please don't let me fail now." His prayer
answered and Malaysia took their place in the semifinals against India.

This brought the crowd to their feet. Raja Azlan Shah, the then MHF deputy president, secretary G. Vijayanathan and team coach Ho Koh Chye and hardened fans were in tears.
The rest of us blinked back the tears as well - tears for the sheer magic of the moment, that unrepeatable point in time.

Our makeshift Press tent with its zinc roofing was hot and in a bedlam. Few sportsmen and sportwriters have surprised the dramatic timing with which Sri Shan fashioned victory.
And we were richer by the experience of having been part of that great effort.
Pounding on our manual typewriters beside me were veteran sportswriters Leo Nathan, Francis Emmanauel, Alex Soars, George Das, Tony Danker, Mansoor Rahman, Tony Francis, Terrance Netto and Bill Tegjeu.
Also shouting on top of their voice over the airways was RTM's eminence R. Jayanathan and Vincent Fernandez, who is still behind the mike after 37 years.

Shan's teammates of that historic squad of 1975 who carved their names in the history of Malaysian hockey were: Khairuddin Zainal, Mohamed Azraai Zain, A. Francis, Brian Sta Maria, K. Balasingam, S. Balasingam, Phang Poh Meng, Wong Choon Hin, R. Pathmarajah, Len Oliveiro, M. Palanisamy, R. Ramakrishnan, Franco D'Cruz, M. Mahendran and Poon Fook Loke. Little more than an hour after victory, the Malay Mail greeted the rush lunch-time crowd with red banner headlines across the front page screaming: BAGUS! WE ARE IN!.

Lelaki Sabah

Aku berada di Doha membuat liputan Sukan Asia apabila aku diisytihar pemenang kategori kewartawanan sukan Bahasa Inggeris pada anugerah Institut Akhbar Malaysia (MPI) 2005 yang diadakan pada lewat 2006. Melepaslah aku naik ke pentas menerima hadiah daripada Timbalan Perdana Menteri ketika itu, Datuk Seri Najib Razak. Bagi kategori Bahasa Malaysia, pemenangnya Mustapa Lakawa dari akhbar Kosmo! Rupa-rupanya anak muda dari Sabah ini juga mempunyai blog. Nama blognya - lelaki Sabah. Klik di sini.

Nice, but wrong caption

The FA of Malaysia (FAM) website has been given a makeover. Nice. Click here. But the content will have to be uploaded soon. Oh, another thing, please amend the caption on the first photo on the flash intro. It's not Yang di-Pertuan Agong, guys, it's Tunku Abdul Rahman Sultan Abdul Hamid Al-Haj, our Bapa Merdeka!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Tennis $tars are coming...

TENNIS...ah, soon the stars of the ATP World Tour will descend on our shores yet again for the Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur 2009.

Having had the privilege of interviewing Jim Courier and Michael Chang when they came for the Salem Open in 1993, it gives me great pleasure to be involved in any way in any tennis tournament.

Dealing with people who surround Roger Federer too was almost surreal. The highlight for some people, including yours truly, is of course the opportunity to snap a photo or two with these millionaires, as the media personnel did with Fed-ex, John McEnroe, Bjorn Borg and James Blake during the official dinner hosted by the then Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Tun Razak at his Jalan Duta residence ahead of the Showdown of Champions last year.

Fed-Ex, James Blake, Najib, McEnroe and Borg

Adam Malik, V. Selvam, R. Ramachandran and Khoo Chin Bee at their peak gave us a reason to keep tabs on local tennis. The downside in the 90s was the never-ending internal problems, even though the Lawn Tennis Association of Malaysia (LTAM) were led by top guns, among them the late Tun Ghafar Baba and former Chief Secretary to the Government, Tan Sri Sallehuddin Mohamad.

Since 2005, however, LTAM, with president and corporate figure Datuk Abdul Razak Latiff at the helm, has succeeded at least in reviving interests towards the game, by sanctioning top-class events such as the Malaysia Open later this month, the Showdown 2009 and the WTA event next year.

With LTAM's policy of developing youngsters rather than sustaining the present crop of seniors, the chance of taking on the top players in practice sessions whenever there is a major event in Kuala Lumpur is a small step in the learning process.

I hope there will be a chance for our youngsters come the Malaysia Open later this month.

Tournament Director Nick Freyer who hosted a buka puasa session last night, is delighted with the way everything is falling into place, with the court installation process already underway, as the build up continues to the first of what is expected to be the biggest annual international indoor sporting event in the country.

Gathering members of the media, tournament sponsors and friends to acknowledge and sample some of the delights from four F&B Suppliers that are on board for the event, Freyer said:

“I often hear people say, in jest, that the real top sport in Malaysia is "Makan" or eating and so it is with great pleasure that I welcome top-notch and famous food and drink brands in Starbucks Coffee, Krispy Kreme, Gatorade and Eau Claire as Official Suppliers to the Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur, 2009."

The Press at the buka puasa tournament, oops, session

The Hong Kong-based Freyer, who is married to a Malaysian, said:

"Players coming to the Malaysian Open Kuala Lumpur 2009 continue to produce the goods on the ATP World Tour with Fernando Verdasco winning his first title of the year at the Pilot Pen Tennis in New Haven, Connecticut. Fernando was one of the first players we announced that was coming to KL and we are thrilled that he is doing well,” Freyer said. “Right now all attention in the tennis world is on the US Open in New York and we wish all our players the very best of luck at the year’s last Grand Slam event.”

The Malaysian Open Kuala Lumpur 2009 promises a fantastic line up of players. In addition to Verdasco there is Nikolay Davydenko, Gael Monfils, Fernando Gonzalez, Robin Soderling,
Lleyton Hewitt, David Ferrer, Richard Gasquet, Thomas Berdych and many more.

The tournament will be playing host to two from the world’s top ten, five from the top 15 and seven of the top 20.

Tickets for the 2009 Malaysian Open Kuala Lumpur are available through TicketPro
www.ticketpro.com.my or via their Hotline: +603 7880 7999, or members of the public can
purchase tickets through TicketPro outlets and to find out the closest one check out http://www.ticketpro.com.my/jnp/ticket-outlets/index.html.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Media Director, Malaysia, Ghaz Ramli at ghaz@gridgossips.com OR International Media Director, Craig Gabriel at craig@crosscourt.com.au

As I sift through the stellar cast, I wonder how much involved is the Government in terms of organising and financing? Surely these guys are paid appearance fees...Just wondering...

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Tomyam recipe

The FA of Malaysia can perhaps learn a thing or two on the need to market the league from the Thais. Read New Zealand-based Everton fan Afiq Rudzi's take here.

Coach Wan on internet TV

It's good that young coach Mohd Shazwan Wong Abdullah's seven-year stint in Shanghai is featured here.

On March 11, loose cannon posted something on coachwan under the posting Qilin-g time, definitely-not.

The father of two entertains the thought of setting up his own academy. Loose cannon is optimistic the former player will realise his ambition and eventually be interviewed in the main TV stations. He runs a blog here.