Thursday, July 31, 2008

SOS for hockey

A few moons ago I gave the heading SOS for hockey for an entry on the current state of the game in this beloved motherland of ours.

Thankfully our ex-stars are beginning to come up in the open, without resorting to technological means to express their concerns.

Read here

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

AFC, Mr Hammam and I

"Mr Hammam, honestly speaking, I feel as if I'm in a fortress," I pulled no punches as the gentleman in a dapper suit escorted me to the lift.

"I used to be able to walk into anybody's office or cubicle when AFC were sharing the same roof with OCM. Those days I could walk directly into Datuk Peter's office, but of course subject to prior approval of her PA."

The Arab gentleman shrugged it aside, saying: "We are trying to project a professional image. It is also for security reasons."

I left it at that.

By now Mr Mohamed Hammam Al-Abdulla, who was installed as the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) president in 2002, has grown accustomed to my style, direct and sometimes brusque to the point of being annoying.

On many occasions that our paths crossed, he assured me he would not entertain any calls for the AFC House to be shifted.

So when Hammam's proposal for AFC to move elsewhere was leaked out on Tuesday, a few hours ahead of the Malaysia-Chelsea match, read here it took me by surprise.

In a series of entries about AFC I intend to post in the foreseeable future, let's study the content of the interview I had with him in February 2002.

EXCEPT for their first four years when there were four presidents - all from Hong Kong - the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) have been helmed by Malaysians.

From 1958 until today, a Prime Minister, a Cabinet member and a former Yang di-Pertuan Agong have had a hand in turning AFC into a respected organisation in world soccer.

Yet two years before AFC complete their five decades of existence, Malaysia are in danger of losing the presidency to a Qatari.

FIFA executive committee member Mohammad Hammam Al-Abdulla, described as a true gentleman by insiders, has declared his intention to run for the No 1 post.

The 20th AFC Congress, scheduled for May 10, has been postponed after the 2002 World Cup in Korea/Japan, thus giving rise to the speculation that incumbent Sultan Ahmad Shah - who was unanimously elected in 1994 after Tan Sri Hamzah Abu Samah pulled out from the race two days before the elections due to health reasons - might pass the baton to Hammam.

Always immaculately dressed, Hammam, 53 on May 8, looks like some dapper businessman ready to conduct deals at the drop of a hat. The father of 10 - five sons and five daughters - shares his thoughts with Mailsport's Rizal Hashim.

SUNDAY MAIL: Why do you see the need to have a change in AFC's leadership? And what made you decide to contest the No 1 post?

HAMMAM: With due respect to His Royal Highness the Sultan, I felt the time was right for a change. The Press got hold of the fact that I was contesting the post before I had the chance to discuss the matter with the president. Now that I have spoken to the president of my intention, he understood my feelings and the reasons behind this decision. He did not want to stand in my way as he felt it was my democratic right to contest. I sought his blessings to do so. If he had said no, I would not have declared my candidature. Since coming into AFC six years ago, I have felt Asia is divided into several factions. Although it is not so, the opinion, within and outside the world soccer fraternity, is that we are not a family. My priority is to change that perception. The feedback I get is that AFC are divided and there are splinter groups - the Middle East is not on the same wavelength as leaders from the Far East or the former Soviet bloc and etc etc. Let me reiterate that the Sultan had contributed to the development of football in Asia. I have the utmost respect for him.

SM: The decision to postpone the AFC Congress is seen as a compromise to allow Sultan Ahmad Shah to lead AFC into the first World Cup in Asia before passing the baton to you. What is your opinion?

HAMMAM: AFC under the able leadership of the Sultan worked hard to bring the World Cup to Asia. Rightfully His Royal Highness should be accorded the honour to lead AFC into an event which is a milestone in the history of football. After all the Sultan was the one who had formally proposed the idea of co-hosting. I would not want to speculate on the possible contest because His Royal Highness has yet to make his position clear.

SM: Many see the presidency as a full-time job. If you were to become AFC's eighth president, how would juggle your time between your duties in AFC, FIFA and your family in Doha?

HAMMAM: I reckon I would be spending more time in Kuala Lumpur. But as it is, I have been criss-crossing the globe due to my commitments with FIFA and AFC. I supervise the GOAL project in every continent and I am also the chairman of the FIFA technical committee which convenes to discuss the technical matters and finer points of the game.

SM: How would you react should there be another candidate to emerge between now and nomination day?

HAMMAM: AFC have always practised democracy. In that true spirit of democracy the Sultan gave me his blessings to stand for elections. But I believe I have the support of even Sultan Ahmad Shah if there were to be some other candidates.

SM: The AFC secretariat have been based in Malaysia when it was moved from Hong Kong to Penang in 1965. In 1978 it was moved to Kuala Lumpur and two years ago, AFC's own building was completed. Do you see the need to shift it elsewhere?

HAMMAM: I have no intention of moving the AFC secretariat out of Kuala Lumpur. A lot of money has been spent in developing the AFC House and it is in no one's interest to contemplate a shift. Kuala Lumpur, after all, is a strategic location. From the Middle East it takes around seven hours to reach Kuala Lumpur and this city is around six hours away from Japan.

SM: Is the position of the general secretary, Datuk Peter Velappan, under threat should a new president be elected into office?

HAMMAM: The issue does not arise. Without Velappan, AFC would not be where it is now. Velappan is my partner, and a partner of Asia and AFC. He has been the backbone of the organisation long before others came into the picture. I also do not understand why is Velappan being dragged into the battle for presidency. Although his position carries a certain degree of influence, one must not forget that the executive committee is the supreme policymaker of AFC. The secretariat merely implements the policies. And the office-bearers are elected into office through a secret ballot from the delegates of 44 countries, 43 if you exclude Afghanistan.

SM: Tell us a little bit of your background.

HAMMAM: I have been involved in sports since 1970 when I became the president of Al-Rayyan, one of the biggest clubs in Qatar. I was president of the Qatar FA between 1992 and 1996 before moving on to AFC and FIFA. I also held the presidency of the Qatari volleyball and table tennis associations from 1979 to 1983. I was also a member of the Qatar Olympic Committee as well as a member of the Qatari Advisory Council which is equivalent to the parliament. I am involved in the construction business. I did Business Administration at Beirut University in Lebanon. This is a bit embarrassing, but I have 10 children - five sons and five
daughters. One more and I would have a football team! And contrary to reports, I do not fly by private jets.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Bibikku lari...

"Bang, balik. Bibik dah macam orang gila" bunyi sistem pesanan ringkas yang kuterima daripada Intan ketika sedang melawat sepupuku yang akan pulang ke Venezuela keesokannya.

Dalam keletihan, aku pulang kira-kira jam 10 malam. Kulihat bibik bersama Alfiyyah di ruang tamu, manakala Intan sedang bergelut dengan kerja-kerjanya sebagai seorang guru di kamar tidur.

"Bibik, bibik mau kerja atau nggak kerja," tanyaku dalam telo Indon yang tidak perlu dibuat-buat lagi.

Dia menitiskan air mata. Ku pinta bantuannya untuk menjaga Alfiyyah di depan televisyen sehingga aku turun.

Aku dapat maklum balas daripada Intan. Apabila aku turun kira-kira jam 12 tengah malam, selesai menghantar kolumku, Alfiyyah sudah mahu lena. Lalu ku kata "tidak apa bibik, boleh tidur sekarang."

Keesokan paginya, ku lihat pintu pagar sudah terbuka. Baju sudah ada di ampaian. Jam menunjukkan 6.50 pagi apabila aku bersiap mahu menghantar Intan ke sekolah. Sekolah? Pada hari Sabtu? Ya, demi mendidik anak bangsa.

Ku panggil bibik. Aku mahu minta dia jaga Anas yang sudah bangkit seawal 6.30 pagi.

Ku lihat pintu biliknya tertutup. Biliknya kosong. Barangnya sudah tiada. Aku lihat di bilik air. Juga tiada tanda-tanda digunakan. Intan terkejut. Kunci rumah kami ditinggalkan berhampiran rak kasut.

Intan tidak jadi ke sekolah. Aku pun pergi ke balai polis berdekatan untuk membuat laporan. Panggilan pertama yang aku buat kepada Emran, sahabat yang membantu kami mencari pembantu rumah ini. Bibiknya kebetulan jiran bibikku.

Siasat punya siasat (Intan sembang dengan Ina depan rumah dan Siti bibik rumah sebelah), bibikku memang ada berhasrat mencari kerja lain di Melaka. Ada seorang tukang Indon datang ke rumah ku dua hari sebelum itu dan mereka berbincang panjang di pintu pagar.

Emran datang jam 8.30p pagi dengan isteri dan dua anaknya. Dia menelefon Ibu Kisti di Batam dan meminta dia mencari pengganti bibikku.

Apapun aku dan Intan bersyukur. Bibikku seorang yang baik dan tidak mengambil apa-apapun milik kami dan dia memutuskan untuk meninggalkan rumah kami pada hari yang aku tidak bekerja. Sekurang-kurangnya aku harus beri kredit kepadanya.

Biarpun rasa penat mengambilnya di Stulang Laut belum hilang tanggal 19 April 2008, aku redha. Dia menunggu tiga bulan seminggu untuk mengangkat kaki.

Kami menunggu tujuh tahun dan selepas beranak tiga untuk mengambil pembantu rumah. Kini aku kembali melakukan tugas-tugas yang biasa aku lakukan, mencuci dan merebus botol, melipat kain, membasuh baju (pakai mesin, tak susah) dan apa lagi ek? Masak saja yang aku tidak buat, itu aku serahkan kepada pakar. Sambil itu aku curi-curi masa untuk memblog...

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

What's up, Doc?

Isu terbaru yang didedahkan oleh Berita Harian mengundang 11 juta macam persoalan.

di sini

Malaysia v Chelsea, again

No Makelele (off to PSG), no Drogba but the likes of Luiz Felipe Scolari, John Terry and Frank Lampard will be descending upon our shores for a second time as part of the Chelsea entourage for the friendly against Malaysia at the Shah Alam Stadium on July 29.

Scolari was here previously in 2002, where he stayed at the Palace of Golden Horses with the Brazilian team on transit to their fifth title at Asia's first World Cup in Korea/Japan. Brazilian journalists told me Scolari liked to discuss tactics with his assistant Antonio Lopes while brisk walking.

They did just that at the National Sports Institute warm-up track while Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Kaka and Co were doing the samba at NSC's Padang C.

A year later Terry and Lampard formed the Chelsea line-up that beat Malaysia 4-1 in the FAPL Cup. That was the game that saw Hairuddin Omar, son of a fisherman in Besut, outjump Terry to nod in the first and only goal for ex-Chelsea Allan Harris' men five minutes before the break. Lampard had opened the scoring in the 36th minute.

Since then a lot has happened. Even adidas (Malaysia and Singapore) managing director Darren Choy (below right, flanked by his lieutenant, sports marketing manager Dunstan Cheng), a diehard Liverpool fan, has no qualms wearing the new Chelsea kit.

P/S - Anelka or Bilal is looking forward to his third trip to Kuala Lumpur, as he was a member of the French Under-20 side that fell to Uruguay in the 1997 World Youth Cup and two years later he did not utter a single word as I chased him to get a few quotes as he was about to board the bus after the 1999 friendly between Arsenal and Malaysia. can be bought online at Still got time!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Datuk Boon Bee, finally

I think we should commend the Negeri Sembilan palace and the State Government for giving due recognition to former double international Ng Boon Bee. He's almost 71, unlike Nicol David who is now a Datuk at the age of 24.

Boon Bee played football, badminton and rugby, sports that until today enjoy mass appeal and surely more difficult to excel in.

Boon Bee was among 22 recipients of the Darjah Dato' Paduka Tuanku Ja'afar (DPTJ) award which carries the title Datuk, in conjunction with Yang di-Pertuan Besar Negeri Sembilan, Tuanku Ja'afar's 86th birthday, today.

Read the following interview conducted in 2006 and you may wonder why Perak did not bother to give him a Datukship.

SUCH was double international Ng Boon Bee's versatility that he was given an ultimatum to focus on one sport by both Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-haj and Tan Sri Khir Johari.

A rare breed who played badminton, football and rugby for Malaysia with equal aplomb, 1968 National Sportsman of the Year Boon Bee chats with Mailsport's RIZAL HASHIM.

Mailsport: You shone as a multi-talented schoolboy in Ipoh. How did it all begin?

Boon Bee: Sports was very much encouraged by our teachers, especially in missionary schools such as my alma mater St Michael's. I began my love match with badminton at the age of 10. My father, Ng Hor Lock, who was a postmaster, was a social badminton player. Like most my age, I grew up during the days of Wong Peng Soon and Eddy Choong. As such I was inspired and driven by their successes. At St Michael's, I was encouraged to play sports and I represented Henry House. Apart from badminton, rugby and football, I ran the 100m and 200m races for the school in inter-school meets.

MS: How were you able to make the national football team and the State rugby team while actively pursuing a career in badminton?

BB: That's hard to answer. I guess because those days, there was not much else to do and I had this burning desire to excel in sports. My first success came in 1955 when I became Perak schoolboy champ in the singles and doubles. A year later, I won the Perak junior and mixed doubles titles schoolboys' doubles champion. Around the same time, I was already creating an impression on the football pitch as well. I picked up the game at the age of 15 and made the Perak Combined Schools team in 1956. I was drafted into the Perak Chinese team for the MCFA Cup. I don't like to blow my own trumpet but after hammering in six of the Federation Combined Schools' 10 goals in 1958, I earned a call-up to take part in the Merdeka Tournament.

MS: How did it feel being part of the Merdeka Tournament, once described as Asia's premier football competition?

BB: As a young lad, it was a big honour to be part of the proceedings. The team coach was Choo Seng Quee, who was known as a taskmaster. I was an inside-left, with Robert Choe in the centre and Ghani Minhat on inside right. Completing the first-choice five-man strikeforce were Rahim Omar and V. Govindarajoo. The skipper was Chan Tuck Choy. We won the tournament beating South Vietnam in the final. The following year, we beat Hong Kong for the title. In 1960, we were declared joint champions with South Korea. For good measure, I found the net a few times to help the nation win the tournament in 1958, for which I was presented with a gold watch by the then Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman. In 1959, I was chosen for the inaugural Asian Youth Championship and among my teammates were Abdullah Nordin, Robert and Roslan Buang. We lost to South Korea in the final.

Boon Bee (sitting on the ground (right) with the 1958 team. Beside him is Robert Choe. Sitting behind the two are of course Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-haj, Abdul Ghani Minhat, Sexton Lourdes and M. Govindasamy.

MS: So for all your exploits in football, why did you finally opt for badminton?

BB: I was particularly fond of football but to be realistic, I knew I would never get beyond Asian standards. It was some time in 1961 that I decided to opt for badminton. Before that, I had a dinner with the then BA of Malaysia (BAM) president Tan Sri Khir Johari who wanted me to concentrate on badminton. Prior to that, FA of Malaysia (FAM) president Tunku Abdul Rahman had also hinted to me to pick football ahead of badminton. But having travelled around Asia, I wanted to grab the opportunity to see other parts of the world. I had competed in all regional tournaments I wanted to. I had this ambition of winning the All-England and I knew it was within my reach if I put all my efforts into badminton. I even made a promise to Khir that we would bring back the Thomas Cup one day.

MS: And you were virtually unbeatable as a doubles pair alongside your former schoolmate, Tan Yee Khan?

BB: It was a golden era for us. Our partnership grew from strength to strength since our victory in the Perak Open in 1960. We quickly established ourselves as the top pair and after two unsuccessful attempts at the Thomas Cup, Yee Khan and I were selected for the All-England in 1965. We had to raise half the costs of our trip while BAM provided the other half. We thrashed all our opponents and in the final, beat the scratch pair of Erland Kops and Oon Chong Jin. A year later, we retained our title, beating Danish pair Finn Kobero and Hammergaard Hansen. Those were the good old days. It was the happiest time of my life - beating those people and winning the titles. I represented the country about 30 times from 1960 to 1969. Most of it was when I partnered Yee Khan. The Danish Open, Glasgow, Germany and Indonesia - we won everything, including the Thomas Cup. The Jakarta mission was best remembered for the final which was abandoned when we were leading 4-3. Yee Khan and I were leading 15-2, 10-2 against Muljadi and Susanto until the crowd
disturbance. Rattled, we lost 13-18 but then English referee Herbert Scheele decided the match should continue behind closed doors. Indonesia refused. We were given a 6-3margin.

MS: You drifted on to a new partner, Punch Gunalan, after the split with Yee Khan in 1969?

BB: Yee Khan suffered an injury during the SEAP Games in Rangoon. I went on to win the 1971 All-England doubles title with Punch.

MS: So how do you occupy your time these days?

BB: I spend most of the time coaching youngsters six to 15, and manage my Pro Shop at the Ipoh Swimming Club. This is what I have been doing for over 20 years. I had a
short stint in tennis where I won the Perak Closed doubles title in 1978. And then I quit and started coaching tennis for seven years at the club. Now it's only coaching badminton and this Pro Shop. Twice a week, I still play tennis with friends and in my free time, gardening. I'm happy with my life now. My two children are grown up, the eldest Gillian is a chief stewardess with Singapore Airlines and Thomas, named after the Thomas Cup, is a lawyer.

Ng Boon Bee
Date of birth: Dec 17, 1937
Family: Third among four brothers and one sister. Married to Tong Yee
Cheng, daughter Gillian, son Thomas
1958-1961 - Represented Malaya in the Merdeka Tournament
1960-1973 - A member of the Malaysian badminton team
1962 - Asian Games men's doubles gold medal
1963 - SEAP Games men's doubles gold medal
1965 - All-England doubles title, SEAP Games men's doubles gold medal
1966 - All-England title, Asian Games men's doubles gold medal
1967 - Member of the Thomas Cup-winning side, SEA Games men's doubles
gold medal
1971 - All-England title

Give them the stick

For hockey lovers, a voice in sports offers a sharp observation.

Read here

Soul-less Sukma

THE trouble with us most of the time is that we allow our heads to be governed by our hearts.

When Sports Minister Datuk Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced tennis and taekwondo as the two sports dropped from the Malaysia Games or Sukma in Malacca in 2010, it was being typical Malaysia.

Instead of the 19 compulsory and 12 optional sports to be competed, only 18 compulsory and seven optional sports will feature in the Malacca Sukma.

Dropped from the list of optional sports are judo, rugby, canoeing, golf, volleyball, tennis and fencing.

Ismail Sabri said the only compulsory sport to be dropped was taekwondo as the national body in charge of the sport had yet to resolve its internal problems.

Why do you punish the athletes then? The Olympic Council of Malaysia can always take charge in the interim if the dispute cannot be resolved by then.

Like football, badminton and bowling, taekwondo and tennis enjoy mass appeal. Taekwondo can be taught anywhere, while I see tennis courts at almost every hotel. The National Tennis Centre at Jalan Duta comes alive every weekend.

In tennis and taekwondo, parents are willing to pay for their kids to get the right coaching.

We cannot run away from the fact that State governments put a lot of emphasis on the biennial Sukma, which means efforts to raise the standard of the two sports among the kids all over the country will take a backseat for the next two years now that they have been dropped from Sukma.

What's the purpose of having Fed-ex and Nadal demonstrating what's best about the game here but in the end leave the kids with nothing to aspire to competitively?

Tennis and taekwondo, as permanent fixtures in the Asian Games and the Olympics, should be in Sukma. Sukma which means soul, is in danger of losing its soul!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Foal play?

The Equestrian Association of Malaysia (EAM) adjourned its AGM indefinitely yesterday but it was reported by TV3 the leadership remained unchanged.

The forum section of may shed some light on the issue.

As it stands today, Datuk Seri Dr Jamaluddin Jarjis, who was supposed to relinquish his post in line with the Prime Minister's directive barring Ministers from holding any position in sports bodies in August last year, is still the EAM president. He was not re-appointed to the Cabinet following the elections.

Sports Minister, Datuk Ismail Sabri Yaakob, was a special guest at the AGM, announcing a grant of RM2 million for EAM. Olympic Council of Malaysia secretary Datuk Sieh Kok Chi was there as well.

New Straits Times has it here

and for further insights, read here



Thursday, July 17, 2008

Punch-ing bag

Datuk Punch Gunalan has been in the news of late. My friend has a take on this.


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Satu lagi tuduhan berat...

Majlis Sukan Negara (MSN) nampaknya dilempar dengan tuduhan amat berat, kali ini membabitkan penggunaan (atau tiadanya penggunaan) sistem perisian keputusan Sukan Malaysia (Sukma).

di sini

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Perginya Bapa Bola Sepak Kedah


Kelab penyokong Kedah (HKC) akan mengadakan majlis tahlil buat Allahyarham Datuk Paduka Ahmad Basri Mohd Akil selepas Maghrib di Masjid Negara pada Khamis 17 Julai 2008.

Aku baru dimaklumkan bahawa Datuk Paduka Ahmad Basri Mohd Akil, 69, menghembuskan nafas terakhirnya dalam jam 3.00 petang tadi.

Bekas Naib Presiden FAM itu dikatakan rebah ketika majlis sambutan Jubli Emas Tuanku Sultan Abdul Halim Muadzam Shah di Istana Anak Bukit dan meninggal dunia sejurus dibawa ke Hospital Sultanah Bahiyah di Alor Star.

Aku mengucapkan takziah kepada seluruh keluarga Allahyarham dan tentunya warga bola sepak negeri Kedah atas kehilangan sebutir permata yang menyinari bola sepak tempatan dengan ketokohannya, kelantangannya, keberaniannya dan gaya tersendirinya dalam mencari satu resipi kejayaan.

Aku sedih kerana aku berjumpa dengan Allahyarham dengan beberapa kenalan lain, termasuk Azraai, Zainul dan Bashah di Hotel Seri Malaysia di Alor Star untuk makan malam bulan lalu. Hotel itu bersebelahan Stadium Darulaman, gelanggang yang banyak mengharumkan nama Allahyarham selaku Bapa Bola Sepak Kedah.

Ketika itupun aku sedar Allahyarham tidak segirang dan seghairah dulu dalam membincangkan bola sepak Kedah mahupun negara.

Ada detik ketika aku dan Allahyarham bersama Datuk Dell Akbar Khan Hyder Khan dalam keretapi di Jepun terakam pada 1999 tapi seperti biasa, entah ke mana hilangnya gambar itu waktu ini!

Ketika itu aku bersama rombongan FAM dipelawa mengkaji struktur dan program pembangunan bola sepak negara Matahari Terbit itu.

Al-Fatihah buat seorang sahabat. Semoga rohnya ditempatkan di kalangan roh mereka yang beriman.

Dikemas kini

Sementara itu, bekas naib presiden FAM, Tan Sri Elyas Omar, amat dukacita dengan pemergian Allahyarham yang disifatkan sebagai satu kehilangan besar buat masyarakat bola sepak tempatan.

"Kita hanya boleh mendoakan agar rohnya ditempatkan di kalangan orang yang soleh. Bagi saya, Allahyarham seorang yang komited, jujur dan berdaya maju dalam pemikirannya.

"Kemajuan yang dikecapi Kedah adalah atas daya usaha Allahyarham. Kami berkawan rapat ketika kami sama-sama memegang jawatan di FAM. Tanpa mengira tempat, kami selalu berbincang bagaimana cara-cara terbaik membangunkan bola sepak negara.

"Kami banyak berkongsi suka duka. Dalam kejujurannya, Allahyarham selalu menyatakan isi hatinya, setuju atau tidak setuju, itulah datang daripada hati sanubuarinya yang ikhlas. Allahyarham tidak ada kepentingan diri. Dalam banyak aspek, Allahyarham mengingatkan saya kepada diri saya sendiri," kata Tan Sri Elyas.

Bekas Datuk Bandar Kuala Lumpur itu turut mengucapkan takziah kepada keluarga Allahyarham.

The Shebby treatment

The actors – B. Sathianathan and Shebby Singh.

The director – Harian Metro.

The war of words between national team supremo Sathianathan and ex-international and football pundit Shebby is not doing the game any good.

In my humble opinion, Sathianathan should not waste his energy retaliating.

After all every Tom, Dick and Harry, or in our case, Ahmad, Ah Chong, Mutu and Shebby Singh has an opinion as to how we should play the game!

Shebby and I come from the same kampung, Kluang. We used to be close until one fine day in February 2007 I wrote an Open Letter to him in the Malay Mail. It's reproduced here

TO Serbegeth Singh Dher Singh AKA Shebby,

My friend, I hope this letter finds you in great health. Allow me to congratulate you on TMFC's 2-1 victory over bottom-placed Sarawak in the Super League clash on Wednesday.

It was great to see you, a respected football pundit, putting your money where your mouth is, even for a fleeting moment as a caretaker coach.

There is no doubt that you have innovative ideas on how the beautiful game should be played. I was even intrigued by your decision to field Nazzab Hidzan, the erstwhile playmaker of TMFC, as a sweeper during the encounter at Petaling Jaya Stadium.

However, the reason I'm compelled to share with you my thoughts stems from your outburst during the post-match comments shortly after TMFC's 2-0 defeat to Perlis in the opening group match of the Malaysia Cup last Saturday.

Your thinly-veiled broadside directed at former TMFC coach Irfan Bakti Abu Salim came as a surprise to many.

You mentioned that his training methods were outdated and that you have had to start from scratch during the two sessions ahead of the clash in Kangar.

I tend to agree with most of the coaches interviewed on national TV, especially RTM1, who believed that your outburst was unethical. You simply do not run down your contemporaries.

I'm sure you would agree with me if I say becoming a full-fledged coach is akin to an undergraduate pursuing his first degree. It could even be a life-long learning process.

Furthermore, as a respected pundit, I'm certain you also hold to the basic coaching principle that one coach's views may differ from another. One man's meat is another man's poison.

Remember how Frank Lord converted right-back Zainal Abidin Hassan into a much-vaunted striker in 1983?

There could have been backroom differences between you and Irfan but you chose the wrong platform to undermine his coaching credentials. Irfan, after all, has broken a barrier of sorts by becoming the first Malaysian football coach to ply his trade in Indonesia, helming Persipura Jayapura in West Papua, which happens to be nearer to Darwin than Jakarta.

True, Malaysian football coaches are far from world-class. But a majority of them possess the class not to undermine their fellow professionals in public.

I'm happy that a professional set-up like TMFC trust you implicitly to find the right successor to Irfan. I heard it's going to be our fellow Johorean, Wan Jamak Wan Hassan.

Irfan, if you may recall, happened to be Wan Jamak's assistant in the inaugural Tiger Cup in 1996. It is my sincere wish that whoever happens to replace Irfan has been keeping himself updated on the evolution of the game.

Whatever, Shebby, I hope you take the content of this letter in the right spirit. After all we come from the same town.

I look forward to discussing this further at the Kluang Railway Station over a plate of roti kahwin and a cup of freshly brewed home-made coffee.

Till next time.


Rizal Hashim,

Jalan Dahlia, Kampung Melayu, Kluang.

TV3 interviewed Shebby’s team mate in the 1980s, Razip Ismail, last night, and he supported the former’s suggestion for Sathianathan to do away with senior players for the AFF Cup in December.

I beg to differ. I think Malaysia must always be represented by the best players, regardless of age. I have always been consistent in this, having debated countless times with Claude Le Roy, Ron Smith, Allan Harris, Bertalan Bicskei and Sathianathan too on this issue because I believe we do not have a large talent pool at our disposal. Players should be picked based on talent and current form, regardless whether he's an 18-year old chap or a 32-year old workhorse.

If we were to field a young squad for the regional tournament, chances are we would not go far. And this would be a ready-made excuse for the coaches because they would be singing this tune "we have a young team, it was a good experience for them".

Harris, a former coach of Espanyol and long-time assistant to Terry Venables, was fond of utilising under-age players for senior tournaments, citing it as building blocks for the future. He had a good team in 2002 when we beat Singapore 4-0 and Thailand 3-1 in the Tiger Cup but faltered in the semi-finals to the Indonesians.

Bicskei by contrast picked his players on current form. In the end we got mixed results. We have never reached the AFF Cup final since our runners-up finish in the inaugural tourney in 1996.

If Sathianathan takes a battle-hardened bunch for AFF Cup, then he will have to deliver. His KPI ultimately is the AFF Cup. Let him decide what’s best for the team and himself. Shebby can do his stuff from the studio! Or he can always coach MyTeam 3!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Ah, Penangites...

This is the tale of two Penangites - one an all-conquering squash star and the other a former athletics coach.

Both personalities will remember July 11, 2008 for a different reason. It has become a study in contrast, perhaps.

While Nicol Ann David was confirmed to be a recipient of the Darjah Setia Pahlawan Negeri which carries the title Datuk, from Penang Governor, Tun Abdul Rahman Abbas, C. Ramanathan, the man who helped produce Bionic Girl, Zaiton Othman, Rabia Abdul Salam and a host of others, was sentenced to jail earlier today.

Frankly speaking, it is premature to bestow Nicol the award. Why don't we wait until she retires? How many athletes were conferred the Datukship while still active? Why buck the trend now?

My point is, Nicol has already been richly rewarded in many terms. She will be remembered and history will judge her fairly, don't worry. Her place in the Hall of Fame is assured. The Datukship can wait.

If the idea is to rush to gain mileage out of all these, we should instead recognise the driving force behind Nicol, and certainly that individual or individuals are her parents.


Athletics Coach Ramanathan Serves His 4 Years Jail From Today

PUTRAJAYA, July 11 (Bernama) -- Former national athletics coach C. Ramanathan started serving his four-year jail term Friday after the Court of Appeal here set aside his acquittal on charges of molesting two junior athletes aged 15 and 16.

Justice Datuk Zainun Ali, in allowing the prosecution's appeal, held that the Sessions Court judge was correct in convicting and sentencing Ramanathan, 72, on the two charges at the end of the defence case.

"We affirm the Sessions Court judge's decision. The High Court decision (acquittal) is set aside and the sentence is to run forthwith," said Zainun, who heard the appeal with justices Datuk Wira Abu Samah Nordin and Datuk Sulong Matjeraie.

Ramanathan, who looked worried, was then sent to the Kajang prison. Zainun, in the unanimous decision, ruled that the five-year delay in giving the written grounds of judgment was not a miscarriage of justice to Ramanathan as held by the High Court judge.

Ramanathan was sentenced by the Sessions Court in 1996 to four years jail each, to run concurrently, for using criminal force on two junior athletes aged 15 and 16 with intent to outrage their modesty at the Malaysian Amateur Bsketball Association building in Jalan Hang Tuah here between 9am and 10pm on Oct 23 and 27, 1992.

Zainun said the court's finding was based not only on the two questions raised, namely the five-year delay and the recording of the demeanour of witnesses by the Sessions Court judge, but also on the entire proceedings in the Sessions Court.

She said the five-year delay would not vitiate the entire proceedings.

"The trial judge had given her decision one month after the defence case ended, the written ground of judgment was only out nearly five years later. The decision had been given early but the grounds of judgment were delayed. The delay in the grounds of judgment was not miscarriage of justice," she said.

On the question of recording the demeanour of witnesses, she said it was not mandatory for the Sessions Court to do so.

She said the trial judge had given credit to the demeanour of the witnesses and was correct in applying the standard of proof as was acknowledged by the High Court judge.-- BERNAMA

R.I.P, Supermokh, 17 years on

When footballing legend Mokhtar Dahari passed away after succumbing to muscular dystrophy on July 11, 1991, exactly 17 yars ago, I was on the verge of joining the world of journalism, as a trainee of the NSTP Pre-Editorial Training Scheme (PETS).

It meant getting the daily supply of four newspapers under the NSTP stable. Harian Metro and the Malay Mail front-paged the news and tributes came pouring in the other papers which lasted for weeks.

To catch a glimpse of the great man was always my aim every Friday back when I was schooling in the heart of the city. Masjid Jamek was within walking distance from my alma mater and those days Mokhtar was working, playing and coaching for Talasco.

I watched numerous games involving Mokhtar at the Merdeka Stadium at the tailend of his career, thanks to my late dad, a football fan and a referee who had officiated Datuk Peter Velappan as a player.

Later on I got the opportunity to speak to people who were close to him apart from his family, his friends such as Datuk Soh Chin Aun, Reduan Abdullah, Bakri Ibni (pictured below with Supermokh's widow Tengku Datin Zarina Tengku Ibrahim), and journalists who had the good fortune of getting up, close and personal with Supermokh.

Only after I joined Berita Harian that I got to know the ghostwriter for the Supermokh column On Target in the New Straits Times was Dan Guen Chin or sifu to most of us. Datuk Fauzi Omar also had tons of anecdotes to share from his experience with Mokhtar.

When I spoke to former England supremo Bobby Robson in a teleconference ahead of the FAPL Cup in 2003, he remembered the 1978 trip he made with the England B side mainly due to Mokhtar's goal.

"Yes I do remember the 1978 trip. I had just lifted the FA Cup with Ipswich Town when the FA asked me to take the England B side to KualaLumpur.

"We drew 1-1, I can't recall how the match went exactly but it was held under conditions which we were not accustomed to. Your team scored a good goal."

The late Mansoor Rahman covered the match. Here's the excerpts of the report

"Mokhtar Dahari, Malaysia's soccer pride, stole the limelight from under the noses of England's second stringers its this friendly match at Merdeka Stadium last night.

"After Alan Kennedy had shot England into the lead in the 14th minute, Mokhtar carved out a stunning equaliser 18 minutes later, which had a packed crowd roaring with delight.

"Mokhtar made two more distinctly dangerous runs - both the second half - and a shot hit the post and dropped out of play.."

" ... At the other end, Mokhtar was enjoying some tremendous runs but was unfortunately not having the support he deserved from the other forwards.

"Then he decided to try a goal-grabbing feat on his own. He drove the English team to panic stations with a delightful display of dribbling, culminating with a goal, one of the best from this master striker.

"Mokhtar collected the ball right in midfield, and showing superb acceleration, weaved past Kennedy and David Needham to work his way to the top of the box.

"He then unleashed a shot which found the far corner of the net, leaving goalkeeper Joe Corrigan clawing at thin air.

"The English players were definitely dejected and Mokhtar threw his clenched fist three times in his characteristic manner as the others rushed to congratulate him.

"Even opposing team manager Bobby Robson, who managed Ipswich to their dramatic FA Cup triumph against Arsenal at Wembley earlier in the month, was thoroughly impressed.

"Robson said: `It is one of the best goals I have seen so far."

I met former Selangor defender Walter Biggs the other day. He said: "I could feel the earth moving when Mokhtar was in full flow. He would be more determined and inspiring if we were trailing."

K. Rajagobal said he would have goosebumps having to partner Mokhtar, whether it was for the Selangor team or the PKNS side then managed by Datuk Yap Nyim Keong.

"I used to be overawed by his sheer reputation but he made the junior ones like me feel at home."

Datuk Dina Rizal was fond of reminding me he was skipper and left flanker of the VI team with Mokhtar spearheading the attack. Mokhtar was already knocking on the doors of the Selangor Burnley Cup team then.

A family friend revealed one of the secrets of Mokhtar's prowess was horse meat.

"His whole family used to eat horse meat for meals."

His son Mohd Redza and I share the same alma mater.

There will never be another Mokhtar, a real thoroughbred of a man and the epitome of a marauding, powerful footballer. Al-Fatihah.

p.s The VI Old Boys Association held a special tahlil at the Al-Bohari mosque yesterday.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Bearing the flag

This attractive lady (above) is Hannah Beech. She reminded me of Liv Tyler when our paths crossed in the city steeped in tradition, Athens, in 2004.
A few steps outside the Olympic village, there was an area reserved for the Press to mingle with the athletes. She was busy jotting down notes. You see, Hannah was Time magazine Shanghai bureau chief at that time. The subject of her interview was our diver, Bryan Nickson Lomas (below) Reuters pic taken in Athens.

Hannah was not the only journalist who wanted a piece of Bryan. Everybody else wanted to - from Suddeutsche Zeitung to the foreign wires - for the Sarawakian lad was not only the youngest, smallest and lightest male competitor of the Athens Games, but he too was given the honour of being the Malaysian contingent's flagbearer.
Bryan remains a member of the select band of 11 personalities to be bestowed the honour.
Here's the full list since Malaya made their debut in Melbourne in 1956.
The Melbourne Games 1956 - Tan Kim Bee (weightlifting)
The Rome Games 1960 - Kuda Ditta (athletics)
The Tokyo Games 1964 - Shaharudin Mohd Ali (athletics) now Datuk
The Mexico Games 1968 - Nashatar Singh (athletics) now Datuk
The Munich Games 1972 - Ali Bakar (football)
The Montreal Games 1976 - Ishtiaq Mobarak (athletics)
The Los Angeles Games 1984 - Sabiamad Abdul Ahad (shooting)
The Seoul Games 1988 - Nordin Mohd Jadi (athletics)
The Barcelona Games 1992 - Razif Sidek (badminton)
The Atlanta Games 1996 - Nor Saiful Zaini Nasiruddin (hockey)
The Sydney Games 2000 - Mirnawan Nawawi (hockey)
The Athens Games 2004 - Bryan Nickson Lomas (diving)
I sent the following dispatch from Athens as a preview to the opening ceremony.
HE tips the scale at a mere 33kg but the moment diver Bryan Nickson Lomas carries the Jalur Gemilang during the march past at the Olympic Stadium in Maroussi on Friday (Saturday 2am, Malaysia), he will be among giants.

Barely 14, Bryan is set to join the select band of 11 Olympians to have carried the flag.

The Iban boy from Kuching is certainly the youngest, smallest and lightest of all, and only the second Sarawakian to lead the contingent out from the dugout, exactly 40 years after hurdler Kuda Ditta, a policeman from Miri, performed the honour in the Tokyo Games.

Success in terms of medals, however, eluded Bryan's illustrious predecessors, except for shuttler Mohd Razif Sidek, who partnered his younger sibling, Jalani to the bronze in Barcelona `92.

Almost four decades earlier, weightlifter Tan Kim Bee was accorded the honour of carrying the flag in Melbourne in 1956 when Malaysia, then Malaya, were first represented at the Games.

Although he did not mount the podium, the Melbourne experience helped Kim Bee become the first Malaysian to win a bronze medal in weightlifting at the Asian Games in Tokyo two years later.

Hurdler Ishtiaq Mobarak survived a horrific crash in 1970 and carried the flag in Montreal'76 where he became only the second Malaysian after Datuk Dr. M. Jegathesan to qualify for the semifinal in an Olympic event.

But the true flag man of the nation was Nashatar Singh, who was born in Punjab.

He was the national contingent's flagbearer in all major multi-sport festivals for 10 straight years.
The next day, this piece appeared in the Old Malay Mail.
FOR a moment in time early this morning, the eyes of the world were fixed on the Malaysian contingent as the Olympic family celebrated the homecoming of the Games.
Clad in beige-coloured Malay traditional dress, the baju Melayu Teluk Belanga Johor style (round neck collar fastened by one button) with yellow, red and blue motifs on the samping tied P. Ramlee style, the contingent marched past with a three-time Olympian and former National Scientist of the Year leading them out of the dug-out and the smallest, youngest and lightest male competitor of the Games as the flagbearer.
The spotlight, naturally, fell on Bryan Nickson Lomas. The 14-year-old became only the 11th flagbearer in Malaysian history,following in the footsteps of Tan Kim Bee (1956), Shaharuddin Mohd Ali(1960), Kuda Ditta (1964), Nashatar Singh (1968), Ali Bakar (1972),Ishtiaq Mobarak (1976), Sabiamad Abdul Ahad (1984), Nordin Mohd Jadi(1988), Razif Sidek (1992), Nor Saiful Zaini Nasiruddin (1996) and Mirnawan Nawawi (2000).
The contingent emerged from the dugout after Morocco and were represented by 11 athletes. The rest were swimmers Allen Ong, Saw Yi Khy, divers Leong Mun Yee and Gracie Junita Terry Pega, sprinter Nazmizan Muhammad and race walker YuanYufang, sailor Kevin Lim, women's badminton doubles Chin Ee Hui-Wong PeiTty and shooter Ricky Teh.
The remaining 13 were excused to prepare for their events starting today while Josiah Ng and Elaine Teo are scheduled to arrive next week.
The officials were headed by chef-de-mission Datuk Dr M Jegathesan, a three-time Olympian and the first ever Malaysian to advance to the semi-final of the Games. He was also a recipient of the National Science Award in 1995. One of the most admired sporting heroes in Malaysia, Dr Jegathesan completes a unique distinction in Athens, having been part of the Games as an athlete, medical doctor, deputy chef-de-mission and now the CDM.
Next Tuesday, the Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) Board will convene to deliberate on a few matters among which is the selection of the flagbearer. Could it be shuttler Lee Chong Wei, who has to perform the next day, cyclists Azizulhasni Awang or Josiah Ng, or taekwondo's Elaine Teo, or archery's Cheng Chu Sian or Marbawi Sulaiman? Or Bryan for a second time?

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Horsing around?

I was reliably informed that not all Ministers adhered to the Prime Minister's directive in 2007 that all Cabinet ministers, deputy ministers and parliamentary secretaries be barred from holding positions in sports bodies!

I'm sure we all can recall in August 2007 that those holding such posts were ordered to resign with immediate effect.

Directly affected then were Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri Dr Fong Chan Onn (Malaysian Bodybuilding Federation president), Transport Minister Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy (Table tennis association of Malaysia president), Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Datuk Seri Dr Jamaluddin Jarjis (Equestrian Association of Malaysia), Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Mansor (KLFA president), Deputy Information Minister, Datuk Ahmad Zahid Hamidi (Perak FA president) and Deputy Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities, Datuk Anifah Aman (FAM vice-president).

Notice the right side of the picture? I put forward the pros and cons behind the decision, possible scenarios and a suggestion in this article which appeared in the old Malay Mail on August 2, 2007.

The Pros

# The Ministers will not be bogged down by voluntary duties in sports bodies

# time to take stock so that the interest of a few does not supersede the sport

# a signal for political parties and leaders at grassroot, State and national level to initiate changes and stop picking politicians - has -beens or budding ones - as head of sports bodies

# there is little risk of politicians in Governmental positions of exposing themselves to criticism from the Press and public alike

# paves the way for corporate captains and academicians to enter the scene

The Cons

# it eliminates Ministers who could be genuinely and sincerely interested in sports

# in the absence of his or her peers, the Sports Minister could become all too powerful and autocratic, with little space for dissent

# Members of Parliament and party leaders are allowed to use sports bodies as a stepping stone

Just a thought

# Herald a change in the Sports Ministry by appointing a former legend as the Minister. Brazil once had Pele as the Sports Minister. Not practical in our society?

The Minister in question is no longer holding any Cabinet post. Word is JJ is determined to cling on to the presidency of EAM now that he is no longer affected by the decision! But why did he not relinquish the post in August last year?

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Visi 2026 Kiddokickers

I came across this flyer at the grocery shop...and my mind quickly took me back to several conversations I had with a number of ex-footballers on the need to highlight their activities, not so much to gain mileage but to inform the public on the nature of their business. After all the idea is to widen the talent pool.

Check out or www. This sort of initiatives, where the culture of playing the game is greatly enhanced, must be lauded and encouraged fully. I know areas like Subang Jaya in the Klang Valley, or districts in Kedah and Perak are blessed with community-based programmes but Kiddokickers offers something unique in the sense that the ones offering the expertise are ex-footballers who have competed at international level.

This is one way of giving back to society, say the backbone of Kiddokickers - Ghani Malik, K. Sanbagamaran, Azrul Amri Burhan, Azrin Shah Zainal and Kamarulzaman Yub Abdul Majid. Their vision is of course to change the footballing landscape and help Malaysian football regain its footing.

Usaha Kiddokickers amat dialu-alukan. Setidak-tidaknya tenaga di sebalik program ini berusaha membuat sesuatu dalam mencari bakat untuk diketengahkan ke peringkat tertinggi. Mereka percaya pembangunan bola sepak boleh dijayakan seawal kanak-kanak itu berusia empat tahun!

Adieu, sayonara, Slider

I'm in the dark as to why Haris Hussain is called Slider by his friends, aides, accomplices and cohorts. But that's not the issue here.

The recently promoted associate editor of the Malay Mail tendered his resignation recently.

So I attended Slider's farewell do at Sooka Sentral, exactly a week ago! It was good to meet old colleagues and bitch about people, hahahaaha!Those who really made their presence felt were Nudge, Muli the Politician from Perlis and his significant other, my fellow Johoreans Dawn, Chew and Adly plus Jyja, the sales "girl" whom I have had the pleasure of being friends with since our teenage years. While they were in merry-making mood, I merely ate.

I don't have to agree with what His Momma says...and I also do not understand why does Haris have to show his tongue, it's not exactly tongue-in-cheek, eh? Seen in the background is Graig Nunis who thinks life revolves around either Liverpool or Seremban. And that is sad. Right after taking this picture, my battery went "kong"...and what does that tell you???

Introducing Raven, Malay Mail's version of Padayappa. We used to join forces in designing pages from Open Letters, the Mole column to the write-ups during the 2006 World Cup. He used to say: "I don't like you la are fussy!" Although this is a non-smoking blog (that means I don't smoke and I don't condone smoking), I've no idea how to crop the cigarette out of the here is Raven at his most Padayappa.

Dawn (right) and Chew...hey Dawn take me to your uncle's shop at Kluang Railway Station. Roti kahwin 3 set...

Yaakob Yusof (left) and T. Vignesh (his nickname at the sports desk was Apom)...the two self-proclaimed "bouncers". Yaakob is now with the production company that produces Expose Mistik at 105 (that's Astro Prima for the uninitiated) while Apom "the gangsta rapper" is enjoying life at the New Straits Times...

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Major stumbling blocks to Doha

We knew all along Malaysia's road to Doha for the AFC Asian Cup 2011 will not be paved with gold.

From the belly of the impressive Aspire Dome, where I had the good fortune of witnessing Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong's golden performance at the Asian Games two years ago, Malaysia were drawn in Group C with 1994 Asian Games gold medallists Uzbekistan, United Arab Emirates and India.


Uzbekistan will start as the favourites, having given Malaysia a lesson with a 5-0 thrashing in the AFC Asian Cup finals last year. Dynamo Kyiv attacker Maksim Shatskikh is young enough to spearhead their attack again.


The fickle and volatile nature of Middle east football sees a high turnover of coaches and it remains to be seen if Metsu, the Michael Bolton of world football, will be charting UAE's fortunes when the qualifiers kick off in January 2009.


India coach Bob Houghton was once shortlisted for the hotseat at Wisma FAM. So he has a lot to prove.

Coach B. Sathianathan has a difficult task ahead!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Perginya seorang rakan


Arwah Abu selamat disemadikan di tanah perkuburan Selayang jam 11 pagi. Warga MSN tidak putus-putus menziarahi jenazah di rumahnya, Jalan Indah 14, dari lewat malam tadi hinggalah talqin dibacakan.

Dua bekas petinju negara, Adnan Yusoh dan Balkis Ahlal, adalah antara yang mengiringi jenazah ke kubur. Aku terkejut melihat kelibat bekas pemain bola sepak negara, Karim Pin, turut hadir di kalangan ratusan lain.

"Kami sama-sama main bola dengan arwah di Taman Koperasi," katanya yang kini menetap di Rawang. Karim, ah, aku ingat zaman dia berganding bahu dengan Azizol Abu Haniffah.

Rasu Maniam, pegawai olahraga yang cukup dikenali kerana daya ingatannya yang kuat berhubung statistik, berkata: "Abu was a gem of a boy."

Hadir sama Ketua Pengarah MSN, Datuk Zolkples Embong, Ketua Pengarah ISN, Datuk Dr Ramlan Abdul Aziz dan pegawai kanan MSN.

"Zal, alah kau ni, sekali-sekali datanglah interviu aku. Aku ada cerita ni...tinju."

Alah, Bu, nanti lah...alasan aku biasanya ada Press conference...cover MAAU lah, BAM lah. Begitulah adat di Majlis Sukan Negara satu ketika dulu, apabila mesyuarat bersama diadakan di luar bilik Ketua Pengarah 1993-2005, Datuk Wira Mazlan Ahmad.

"Kau memang, asyik cover bos-bos besar aje, manalah ada time untuk orang macam aku ni."

Suara garau Abdul Wahab Ismail tidak akan kedengaran selama-lamanya. Baru berusia 42 tahun, Wahab atau lebih mesra dengan panggilan Abu, menyahut panggilan Ilahi malam tadi di Tangkak.

Seperti juga pegawai-pegawai Majlis Sukan Negara (MSN) yang lebih banyak berkhidmat di sebalik tabir, Abu bertugas bukan untuk glamour. Tapi arwah sesekali meminta tolong aku untuk menyalurkan maklumat bahawa MSN ada berbuat sesuatu untuk mengembangkan sukan kurang glamour seperti tinju, judo dan memanah.

Arwah Abu adalah antara watak utama merencanakan kewujudan pusat latihan tinju di Johor, hasil kerjasamanya dengan Haji Harun Ismail, bekas petinju yang masih giat mempromosi tinju di selatan tanah air.

Zaman aku membuat liputan di MSN, aku sering dapat scoop disebabkan kenalan yang ramai tanpa mengira status. Abu adalah antaranya. Dulu arwah di bawah bimbingan Haji Zaki Abdul Rahman di bahagian pembangunan dan kemudian Haji Azizan Zainol Abidin dan seterusnya Ghazali Hasan.

Arwah memperkenalkan aku kepada nama-nama seperti Zamzai Azizi Mohamad, Eddy Kalai...disebabkan arwah emak dan nenek aku dari Melaka, macam juga arwah, kami ada lah sedikit connection.

Hasnah Ab Latip yang menjadi PA setia Datuk Mazlan hingga persaraannya, memaklumkan kepada aku bahawa dia sempat bersembang panjang dengan arwah di pejabat minggu lalu. Ketika itu arwah banyak bercerita mengenai hal-hal peribadi dan keluarganya.

Arwah meninggalkan lima anak yang masih kecil. Jenazahnya akan dikebumikan di tanah perkuburan Selayang pada Rabu 2 Julai, jam 10.0 pagi. Daripada Dia kita datang, kepada Dia kita kembali. Takziah kepada keluarga arwah dan warga kerja MSN. Al-Fatihah.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The ball is in FAM's pitch

Sports Minister Datuk Ismail Sabri Yaakob has volleyed the ball back to Gifted Group Ltd (GGL) chairman Jonathan Price by asking the latter to seek FA of Malaysia's blessings for the Champions Youth Cup (CYC) to be held as scheduled.

After studying the one-sided contract drafted by the office of his immediate predecessior, Ismail is apparently concerned about the RM17 million that had been paid to GGL. The Government stands to lose a further RM35 million as compensation to GGL if the CYC is cancelled. So Ismail wants CYC to go on.

Sultan Ahmad Shah however has objected to it. It was learnt Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak had an audience with the Pahang ruler in London recently.

That is why in my earlier posting, I suggested to Ismail that a compromise be sought. A win-win situation. Let's do this year's tournament but cancel next year's edition on mutual basis. Habis cerita.

Manolo and Fernando

I was too young to remember Bernd Schuster's imperious performance in the 1980 Euros but by the time the tournament mooted by the French was hosted by the French, I was old enough to appreciate the good football dished out by Platini and Co, Yugoslavia, Spain and Denmark. I had a video collection of almost all the matches, but now they're gone. The 1984 edition was, to my mind, arguably the best. I saw live on TV how my all-time favourite full-back Manuel Amoros (bigger, tougher and more skilful than Philipp Lahm, like Lahm, Amoros was equally at home on both flanks) broke Allan Simonsen's leg (I don't think it was on purpose), Platini's goals, Chalana's midfield presence and Antonio Maceda's forays upfront or Rafael Gordillo's sorties on the left flank.

Also there was this enduring image that has stuck to my databank until today, that of an overweight person with a drum and a beret cheering on his team Spain from the stands ...That guy is Manolo el del Bombo, surely one of the game's most recognised faces .

I'm sure he did not sleep after the final. It was time for a fiesta. I would have loved to be able to interview him!

As for Torres who scored the winning goal, Abba's Fernando is a good way of paying tribute to El Nino. I was wrong to underestimate him. I thought he would be just like another Spice Boy, promising so much but failing in the end to deliver.

Can you hear the (manolo's) drums fernando?
I remember long ago another starry night like this
In the firelight fernando
You were humming to yourself and softly strumming your guitar
I could hear the distant drums
And sounds of bugle calls were coming from afar
They were closer now fernando
Every hour every minute seemed to last eternally
I was so afraid fernando
We were young and full of life and none of us prepared to die
And I'm not ashamed to say
The roar of guns and cannons almost made me cry
There was something in the air that night
The stars were bright, fernando
They were shining there for you and me
For liberty, fernando
Though I never thought that we could lose
There's no regret
If I had to do the same again I would, my friend, fernando