Column, Four-Four-Two, February 2014
Pining for Teutonic efficiency
“I cannot overstress the importance of developing good coaches.
“They are the fathers of the game. The quality of soccer in a country depends on them.”
So said Dettmar Cramer, the football guru tasked by FIFA to propagate the right coaching methods to the rest of the world, in an interview with Gerald Martinez of the New Straits Times in 1992.
In his capacity as FIFA roving coach who established football schools in Japan, Iran and Malaysia, Cramer was a familiar figure with coaches in Asia long before he brought Bayern Munich to two successive European Cups in 1975 and 1976.
A year after assisting Helmut Schoen in the FIFA World Cup in England where West Germany finished runners-up to the host country in 1966, Cramer stopped over in Kuala Lumpur to guide a Malaysian side that boasted M. Chandran, Chow Chee Keong, Abdullah Nordin and M. Karathu to fourth place in the Merdeka Tournament.
When the Munich Olympics in 1972 beckoned, again FA of Malaysia (FAM) turned to Cramer for technical and tactical input.
Cramer is not the only German to have left an indelible mark in the local game.
Hired by the Sports Ministry but attached to the FA of Malaysia, Karl-Heinz Weigang brought Malaysia the gold medal in the 1977 SEA Games and in April 1980, oversaw Soh Chin Aun and Co bestride the soggy pitch to qualify for the Moscow Olympics at the expense of South Korea and Japan before taking over the reins at Perak and Johor in the 90s.
A media personality, Holger Obermann, became the point man for many Malaysian-German projects which featured studying stints for K. Rajagobal and Norizan Bakar at Hennef Sports School, Rudie Ramli and Fadzli Saari’s brief sojourn to SV Wehen and the renowned Bayern Munich attachment programme where Rafiz Abu Bakar and Akmal Rizal Ahmad Rakhli were put under the wings of Lim Teong Kim at Bayern Munich.
Interestingly, the future of Malaysian football lies in the hands of Teong Kim, the former international who now thinks like a German, courtesy of more than a decade of experience in shaping the youth of Bayern.
The former Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Negeri Sembilan and Kedah hardman is in charge of the National Football Development Programme (NFDP), initiated by previous Sports Minister Ahmad Shabery Cheek but fine-tuned by his successor Khairy Jamaluddin.
Teong Kim replaced his elder brother Kim Chon, who is no slouch in the global scene. Kim Chon was a member of the FIFA technical study group, a prestigious phalanx of top technical experts tasked to dissect and analyse the latest advances and training methods, in the 2002 and 2006 FIFA World Cups.
For two years Kim Chon quietly performed his duties, negotiated with the schools authorities, worked with the coaches at grassroots and helped lay down the foundation in order to create a larger pool of talent between the ages of 8 and 17.
When the job fell vacant following Kim Chon’s decision to join the FIFA development office in Kuala Lumpur, it gave Khairy the opportunity to lure Teong Kim, out of contract at Bayern, to make a comeback.
Armed with the German Football Association (DFB) master licence which he passed at the Hennes Weisweller academy in Cologne in 2005, Teong Kim had hoped to be coaching in Bundesliga before he reached 50.
Fate has decreed that his future lies in his homeland.
This will be Teong Kim’s second bite of the cherry, having held the post as head of the academies at FAM between 1998 and 1999.
The former Hertha Berlin midfielder has no argument over Cramer’s statement all those years ago, that coaches hold the key to proper development of a footballer.
“We need to educate our coaches on the need to be teaching the right basics, mentality and culture to our youngsters during their pre and formative years,” said Teong Kim.
For sure Teong Kim will not be imposing a German benchmark to his fellow coaches.
They have had no standard to aim for all this while, so we shall not be harsh on them. I will be a friend to my fellow coaches. This project will take time.”
For a man who is accustomed to Teutonic sophistication, Teong Kim realises he has to work within a Malaysian eco-system.
Viel gluck, Teong Kim!