Friday, June 22, 2012

Harap tuah Ong lagi

Anak buah Ong Kim Swee berdepan tugas berat dalam pusingan kelayakan Piala AFC Bawah 22 tahun di Myanmar.

Baca laporan the Star dan laporan Utusan Malaysia.

Apapun, pelanggan Astro boleh menyaksikan kempen kelayakan ini secara langsung dan lihat sendiri sama ada team ini ada Ong atau tidak!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Busy July...

Exactly a month from today, we will celebrate the puasa month, but that does not mean the post-Euro 2012 will be a quiet affair. Far from it because a football feast will be served for fans of the English game.

English Premier League (EPL) champions Manchester City will make their first ever visit to Malaysia during their pre-season tour this summer.

The Citizens will be travelling to Kuala Lumpur straight from China where they will have played Arsenal at the Beijing Bird’s Nest Stadium on July 27.

Manchester City will meet K. Rajogobal’s Malaysian Select XI on July 30 at the National Stadium. The match is organised by the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) and promoted exclusively by ProEvents International Sdn Bhd.

"We are very honoured to shoulder the responsibility of hosting Manchester City as we are the only South East Asian country given this opportunity," said HRH Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, the deputy president of the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM).

Manchester City Interim Chief Executive Officer, John MacBeath, said: “This visit is hugely exciting for Manchester City. It is clear that there is significant appetite for the Premier League in Malaysia, and we are very excited to taking our talented squad there to put on a sporting spectacle for our fans in South East Asia to witness the fans excitement first hand will be a fantastic experience.”

Arsenal is also delighted to announce that the first-team squad will once again be travelling to Malaysia to play a match in Kuala Lumpur in July. The Gunners will be travelling to Malaysia for the second consecutive year, following their successful summer Asia tour in July 2011, in which the Club played matches in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and Hangzhou, China.

After arriving in Kuala Lumpur, the Arsenal first-team squad will take part in an open training session at the National Stadium, Kuala Lumpur on Monday, July 23, an event which was attended last year by over 30,000 people.

On Tuesday, July 24, Arsenal will play a match against a Malaysia XI, once again in the National Stadium Bukit Jalil, Kuala Lumpur, kick off 9.45pm local time. The visit to Malaysia is the first leg of Arsenal’s 2012 Tour. After the match in Kuala Lumpur, the Gunners will be travelling to China, to play against Manchester City in Beijing on Friday, July 27, and then the team will be visiting Hong Kong for a match against Kitchee FC on Sunday, July 29.

Arsenal Chief Executive Ivan Gazidis said: “Further to the overwhelming success of our visit to Kuala Lumpur in 2011, everyone associated with Arsenal is very excited to once again be visiting Malaysia this year.

 “We are delighted that our many loyal fans in Malaysia and neighbouring regions will again have the chance to see their team in action live.

"We had a fantastic time in Malaysia last year and we are all looking forward to visiting this great country and meeting its wonderful people again in July.”

Cricket, SAM, the Minister and I...

The Sportswriters Association of Malaysia (SAM) proudly pose for this picture with team manager Datuk Rahim Razali, a former president of the association...

Actually what's the fuss all about, after all both captains never played cricket before...

The KBS team was aided by squash star Mohd Azlan Iskandar

The Minister, not a bad batsman. Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek is one Minister who does not like protocol...

KUALA LUMPUR: Youth and Sports Minister, Dato Sri Ahmad Shabery Cheek took on the Kinrara Oval in style against the Sports Writers Association of Malaysia (SAM) XI for the Piala Menteri Belia & Sukan Malaysia in Bandar Kinrara recently.

In hope of promoting the sport, the Malaysian Cricket Association (MCA) hosted the Piala Menteri Belia & Sukan Malaysia, a possible annual event, which featured a match between the Youth and Sports Ministry XI and SAM XI.

The ministry’s team was led by Dato Sri Ahmad Shabery Cheek while the SAM side was captained by its president Ahmad Khawari Isa.

Also present on the ministry’s team was Azlan Iskandar, national squash player. SAM XI was represented by members from media companies including Astro Arena, RTM, Kosmo, TV3 and Berita Harian. Due to rain, the match ended with both teams declared as joint champions. This match was held also in hopes to spur on the national Under-19 side which will be competing in the Asian Cricket Council Under-19 tournament which will be held in Kuala Lumpur this month.

evoSPEED and Semua Boleh Bolt

PUMA is proud to introduce evoSPEED, the groundbreaking performance collection that for the first time in the Sportlifestyle brand’s history, features product offerings for all PUMA sport categories.

Inspired by Usain Bolt - the World’s Fastest Man, the collection answers every athlete’s need for speed by taking performance technology and innovations and incorporating them in footwear and apparel developed for running, football, motorsport, golf and indoor sports.

evoSPEED will be available from end of July in Malaysia. Designed under the criteria of “light, flex, and fit”, all evoSPEED footwear features lightweight materials, increased flexibility and an optimized fit that enables a greater freedom of movement without compromising support, to enhance speed.

For the first time in PUMA’s history, the classic Formstripe has been changed and a new lightening version, a signature graphic that emphasizes speed and harkens back to Usain Bolt, will be featured on the complete evoSPEED footwear collection.

The evoSPEED styles will be worn by PUMA’s key athletes in running (Usain Bolt), football (Sergio Aguero and Mario Gomez), motorsport (Fernando Alonso) and golf (Rickie Fowler) this summer and beyond.

Meanwhile in Malaysia, evoSPEED styles will be seen on national players Khairul Fahmi Che Mat, Baddrol Bakhtiar, Mahalli Jasuli and Hazwan Bakri (Football). Called Semua Boleh Bolt, the Malaysian campaign will kick off in Puma Malaysia’s Facebook fanpage with a surprise from Puma friends. Do Like the page and get the latest update and promotions this month and find out how to stand a chance to win a giant evoSPEED shoes!

Rapid ascent for LIMBC

Tun Dr Mahathir with Malik (centre) and Fauzan Ahmad Lutfi and Masziyaton Radzi

KUALA LUMPUR (June 21, 2012): The Langkawi International Mountain Bike Challenge (LIMBC) appears to be sprinting up the ranks in terms of its status in only the third year of its existence.

The 2012 edition, scheduled for Oct 15-20, has been selected as one of only ten mountain bike stage races worldwide to be included on the international calendar issued by cycling’s world governing body, the UCI.

As a result, LIMBC now carries the status of being a Class 2 cross country stage race (XCS) with world ranking points awarded to the top 25 highest placed overall finishers.

This was revealed at the launch officiated by LIMBC honorary patron, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, here today. Also present was race organizer and Human Voyage Sdn Bhd chief executive, Datuk Malik Mydin.

The course will take the participants to the best and most scenic places Langkawi can offer – treasured landmarks and beauty spots including Eagle Square, Telaga Harbour, Oriental Village, Langkawi GeoPark and a stunning beach finale at Pantai Kok.

Tun Dr Mahathir said a successful LIMBC 2012 would strengthen Langkawi’s current bid to host one round of the annual UCI MTB Marathon Series in 2013 and the UCI MTB Marathon World Championships in 2015.

Tun Dr Mahathir also said that “These events represent the pinnacle of mountain biking competition and bring with them considerable foreign spectator support, international media interest and television coverage. This is where LIMBC can play a valuable role in developing tourism."

This year’s LIMBC will flag off on Monday Oct 15 with a prologue individual time trial of 2.3km around Eagle Square and Lagenda Park, followed by Stage 1, a 65km round the island race. Stage 2 is a 45km race from East to West Langkawi, followed by the events ‘Queen Stage’, the gruelling 90km Langkawi Marathon. Stage 4 is an Olympic distance Cross Country race around Langkawi GeoPark followed by Stage 5, a stunning beachfront finale around a fast short circuit at Pantai Kok.

In 2011, Germany’s Karl Platt and Switzerland’s Nathalie Schneitter clinched the overall victory in the men’s elite and women’s elite categories, respectively. Registration is accepted either via online registration at or by sending the completed downloaded registration forms and bank-in reference number of the registration fee to fax number 603-9222 1786 or via email Log on to for further details.

Tun Dr Mahathir with winners of the media contest last year - Zaini Husin of Utusan Malaysia (for best published photograph) and Fadhli Ishak of New Straits Times (best published article).

Post script:

Tun Dr Mahathir was at his sarcastic best. In his speech, he fired a broadside at organisers of Le Tour de Langkawi. He said Langkawi was his favourite island, having fallen in love with it since he was transferred to the legendary island as the State surgeon in 1956.

"They called us State surgeons but we did perform surgeries...dominions of the British Empire are called Commonwealth countries but the wealth is not common...they called our Sultans the Malay rulers but they never ruled, we were ruled by we should not be surprised that the Tour de Langkawi is not held in Langkawi...that is why we came up with another cycling event in Langkawi, I hope it does not get hijacked...

"We hope the Press remains friendly to us and help promote the event. As you know, I breed horses in Langkawi...if you come during the event, you can perhaps visit my farm, I plan to breed cattle from Argentina, buffaloes from India...and visit my kedai roti, the Loaf."

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Euros, my personal timeline

My Euro timeline...

1980 - my first Euro was restricted to occasional news clippings on TV and reading pleasures months after West Germany lifted the Cup, thanks to Shoot! and Shoot! Annual. It was a blow that my favourite player, Trevor Francis, the David Beckham of his era, sustained an Achilles tendon injury and had to miss the tournament...I had to wait a further two years before watching Francis in action in the World Cup in Spain.

There were two weekly editions of Shoot! that I remember with fondness - the cover that featured Ron Greenwood's England team with thumbnail sketches of each player on Page 2 and 3 ahead of the tourney and the post-tourney edition that had Tony Woodcock in an aerial duel with Wilfried Van Moer (or was it Eric Gerets) of Belgium on the cover.

A marauding right-back, a big-sized striker, a blond playmaker, a master-class dribbler as sweeper, a left-footed playmaker and a left-back built like a tank formed the core of Jupp Derwall's victorious squad...

A team that had a tall midfielder with the cultured touch, a German-based energetic midfielder and several players from the all-conquering Liverpool side was hard to ignore...  

Greatly influenced and impressed by Hansi Mueller's left-peg on the occasions that I saw West Germany on TV, I visualised myself hitting the net in a footy match - oh yes I did slam a left-footed shot that hit the underside of the bar and kidding! There was no net those days...what do you expect from a Standard 4 inter-class tournament? hehe

A midfielder with the 1980 Standard 4 inter-class champion - 4 Merah. With Zaimi Ridzwan stoking the engine room, Acis of Gersang fame as striker and Iskandar Ahmad Sabki as the central defender, I played a supporting role.

1984 - At such an impressionable age, I could not help but be seduced by the cavalier approach of Les Bleus. To me, their victory made up for the disappointment of losing the World Cup semifinal in 1982 to Harald Schumacher's boots (remember the day he hacked Patrick Battiston). The best part, my cousin had recorded most of the matches on video. So instead of taxing my brains with mathematics or science, foremost on my mind were Manuel Amoros head butting Jesper Olsen, Jean Tigana's tireless running and Michel Platini's magical moments, not forgetting Rafael Gordillo, with socks rolled down to his ankles, Antonio Maceda and Carlos Santillana making the Spanish tick and the Dane Preben Elkjaer's gallant displays.

Les Bleus had a former rugby player as full-back, a classy dribber in central defence, a poetry-loving keeper, a former postman with his tireless running that formed part of Le Carre Magique, the iconic jersey and above all, the talismanic future president of UEFA!  

1988 - Ruud Gullit, Frank Rijkaard, Marco van Basten, Jan Wouters, Barry van Aerle, Adri van Tiggelen, Hans van Breukelen, Ronald Koeman, his brother Erwin...with the help of a stellar cast, the Dutch finally fulfilled their potential with a major title.

From, a blog authored by a Malaysian journo

But the team that really caught my eye were the Azzurris...

They might look like the Mafiosi but on the pitch, very few sides could boast a classy right flanker, a top-class libero, a deadly attacking duo that went on to manage English clubs and an array of European champions but my favourite player in Azeglio Vicini's outfit was the playmaker Giuseppe Giannini, dubbed the Prince by Italian journos. 

1992 - Attached to the pullout Jaguh, it was routine for me, as the rookie reporter, to be given the job of writing the main feature when it involved foreign sports. For Euro 1992, I penned several articles without relying on the foreign wires. Expectations ran high that an unbeaten French team, with Jean-Pierre Papin and Eric Cantona leading the line for Michel Platini's team, would steamroll past their opponents. But suddenly the French became ultra defensive, bemoaning the fact they had only Christian Perez as their creative fulcrum.

We had our own version of the Euros, the inter-unit Berita Harian World Cup - picture is the Berita Harian sports desk twenty years ago! Read  here

1996 - This was Aime Jacquet's first major tournament after succeeding Gerard Houllier in 1994. People spoke about Alan Shearer, El Tel and all, but my eyes were transfixed on Zinedine Zidane, who had just recovered from an automobile accident. He showed nice touches and combined instinctively with Youri Djorkaeff.

Ahead of the tourney, Editor of New Straits Times' Football mag, Khoo Kay Soon, offered me a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to pen a few words about the French team.

Davor Suker was two years away from emerging top scorer in the 1998 World Cup

Ooh Aah What is France without Cantona?

A Malay journo writing a piece on French football? Why not?

Funny thing was, I was not attached to any sports desk then, having been transferred to the news desk at Berita Harian. Instead of covering athletes covered in their glory, I was instructed to interview among others, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, our then Prime Minister. But the opportunity to write the piece was too good to   ignore. I suspect because of the article, I was then offered the chance to cross over to the Malay Mail.

Astro News Controller, News and Current Affairs, Vincent de Paul is on the foreground...covering for the New Straits Times during Raya 1996 at the old Sri Perdana

2000 - By the time Rotterdam-Brussels came, the French were already crowned world champions and I was into my fourth year at the Malay Mail, back as a sports journo.

A picture was taken with Platini...but not before speaking to him about the Euros

On June 8, 2000, the Malay Mail carried the interview below on the back page.

FIFA adviser, Michel Platini who led the French musketeers to the Euro '84 title at their own backyard, is backing his compatriots and Holland for this year's edition.

 In town recently in conjunction with the launching of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) house, the French folk hero and three-time European Footballer of the Year, was asked by Mailsport's Rizal Hashim on topics ranging from Euro 2000, soccer in Asia and the World Cup 2006 bid.

 Mailsport: Michel, who do you think are the favourites for Euro 2000?
 Platini: Holland and France. People everywhere have been talking about them and I'm not an exception. These two nations appear to be the strongest at the moment. If you force me to make a choice, I would plump for France for the title. Not because I am a Frenchman but I believe Les Bleus are a mature team packed with leaders in all positions.

 Mailsport: Don't you think their status as the World Cup holders too much of a burden for them to carry?
 Platini: No. On the contrary, that is an advantage. Although other teams will always perform to the best of their ability against the world champions, I can sense the present French side are hungry for more success.

 Mailsport: But no World Cup winners have ever landed the European title.
 Platini: Correct, but this French team can create history. Who ever thought France could defeat Brazil 3-0 in a World Cup final and Denmark to become European champions in 1992 despite being a last-minute replacement for Yugoslavia?

 Mailsport: Unlike his predecessor Aime Jacquet, France coach Roger Lemerre is fortunate to have an embarrassment of riches in the striking department. Do you think Thierry Henry, Sylvain Wiltord and David Trezeguet can do the job? (Nicolas Anelka was on the fringe then).
 Platini: Yes. I think the Henry and Trezeguet can renew their partnership as they know each other's game very well, having played together at AS Monaco and France Under-21 side. Lemerre too might have special plans for Anelka. With the right support from (Zinedine) Zidane, (Youri) Djorkaeff, (Robert) Pires, (Johan) Micoud and the defensive midfielders (Didier) Deschamps, (Emmanuel) Petit and (Patrick) Vieira, scoring opportunities will be aplenty. But the defence have shown the tendency to concede silly goals. I gave (Laurent) Blanc his first cap against Ireland in 1989 and 11 years on, he needs to be at his best.

 Mailsport: What about Holland?
 Platini: Holland can beat anybody on their day. Personally, I feel they have a beautiful attacking team. And ever since the heydays of total football, Holland have been boasting of versatile players. In (Marc) Overmars, (Clarence) Seedorf, (Edgar) Davids, (Dennis) Bergkamp, (Jaap) Stam, Holland have a group of world class players.

And the French did win it!

2004 - When Portugal hosted this edition, my mind was already thinking of the Athens Olympic Games. The only thing worth remembering was Zidane's vomit before sending David James the wrong way with a well-taken last-gasp penalty, seconds after curling in a free-kick for a 2-1 win over England. But Greece winning the Cup, hah, good story ahead of my trip to Athens!

2008 - Having departed from Malay Mail in April, I re-branded myself as a blogger and predicted Karim Benzema and Mario Gomez to emerge as the stars, four years too early maybe. Read here. Again, I was handed a pleasant surprise. I got a call from Terence Fernandez, a former Malay Mail colleague, asking me to help out on the Sun daily pullout. All I needed to do was to pick up the stories, previews, graphics and write the captions. A handful of us watched the matches in the office and it was routine for me to go home after Subuh prayers. It was a nice experience working at the Sun, and the pay was good too.

Occasionally, I was also invited to speak about the Euros on TV9, upon invitation from my former senior at Berita Harian, Wan Sabariah Shikh Ali.

Dollah Salleh is a fan of the Dutch team...

Yatt the actress with loose cannon

2012 - I had looked forward to a relaxed and undisturbed Unmissable moments, so that I can pick and choose which matches to watch and which to skip. But lo and behold, I was told by Slamet Sazly Yakub a few days before kick-off that I had been picked as one of the pundits at the studio..."what?" how come I was not told earlier? That means I have to work the graveyard shift??? At this age? And leave the studio around 5am, so that I can reach home in time before my wife goes to school? Arghhhhh...

But thank you Astro Arena for giving me the chance to share the chroma key centrestage with renowned commentator/anchor Zainal Abidin Rawop and ex-Selangor playmaker, Nazzab Hidzan

And of course former Negeri Sembilan, Selangor and Johor FC coach, K. Devan

Again, much to my surprise, Azahar Md Taib, my former colleague at Harian Metro who was my room mate throughout the Athens Olympics, sent me an email, asking me to answer a few questions, and a few days later...VOILA!

Now the cashier at the grocery shop has recognised chance of buying things incognito. As the article clearly indicated, I picked the Germans to lift the Cup named after a Frenchman.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Jelajah Olimpik Astro Arena


 Kuala Lumpur: Debaran dan demam Sukan Olimpik London 2012 semakin dirasakan apabila temasya sukan terhebat dunia itu bakal menyingkap tirainya pada 27 Julai hingga 12 Ogos ini.

 Atas usaha memartabatkan nama Malaysia serta hasrat mencapai pingat emas pertama di Sukan Olimpik, saluran sukan pertama Malaysia, Astro Arena (Saluran 801) akan mengadakan kempen jelajah ‘Menjelang Olimpik 2012’ demi memberi sokongan buat kontinjen negara.

 Siri jelajah promosi yang mendapat tajaan utama daripada Telekom Malaysia serta sokongan daripada Majlis Olimpik Malaysia (MOM) dan Majlis Sukan Negara (MSN) ini akan memulakan pengembaraan bermula 14 hingga 23 Jun 2012 di mana Pulau Pinang menjadi destinasi pertama.

 Selain itu, negeri lain yang akan terlibat termasuk Perak, Melaka, Negeri Sembilan, Johor dan Kelantan.

 Menurut Pengurus Pemasaran dan Penajaan Astro Arena, Azman Fahmi Osman, kempen selama sepuluh hari ini diadakan untuk meraih sokongan rakyat untuk menyemarakkan lagi semangat buat kontinjen negara yang akan beraksi di temasya berprestij ini.

“ Ini adalah kali kedua kita mengadakan kempen jelajah ini selepas temasya Sukan Sea 2011 yang lalu. Kali ini kami meneruskan lagi kesinambungan dan inisiatif menawan hati para peminat sukan tanahair dalam ekspedisi jelajah promosi ini.

“ Melalui kempen ini juga para peminat sukan akan mendapat maklumat dengan mengenali dengan lebih dekat atlit yang juga duta Astro Arena yang akan beraksi di sana nanti.

 “Semoga dengan usaha ini dapat membantu kontingen negara mencapai misi emas pertama sekaligus mengharumkan nama negara di Sukan Olimpik kelak, “ katanya.

 Sepanjang penjelajahan ini, pelbagai aktiviti akan diadakan bagi meraih perhatian warga tempatan untuk turut serta memberi sokongan kepada kontinjen Malaysia di London.

 Antara yang menjadi tumpuan pada jelajah ini ialah peluang kepada seluruh peminat sukan negara menyatakan sokongan mereka menerusi mesej dan tandatangan di bendera sokongan yang disediakan.

 Selain itu, pelbagai aktiviti lain akan turut diadakan termasuk interaksi bersama penonton, permainan dan juga kuiz untuk memenangi barangan eksklusif Astro Arena, Team Malaysia dan Mamee serta bergambar bersama kenderaan jelajah yang ditaja oleh Edaran Tan Chong.

 Astro Arena juga akan membawakan kepada rakyat Malaysia laporan terkini perkembangan serta aksi atlit negara di temasya Sukan Olimpik dalam Nadi Arena, buletin berita utama saluran Astro Arena. Antara duta Arena yang akan menggalas cabaran ke London ialah, Bryan Nickson Lomas (terjun), Leong Mun Yee (terjun), Pandelela Rinong (terjun), Azizulhasni Awang (berbasikal), Lee Chong Wei (badminton), Fatehah Mustapa (berbasikal).

  Sokongan dan sorakan anda pastinya menjadi pembakar semangat kontinjen Malaysia agar mereka dapat memberikan aksi terbaik di sukan Olimpik London. Semoga misi untuk mencapai pingat emas pertama Sukan Olimpik akan tercapai !!!

Monday, June 4, 2012

NSC and I, part 1

Before I begin a series of articles on the National Sports Council (NSC) and the National Sports Institute (NSI), let me stress that I have nothing personal against Zolkples Embong or Dr Ramlan Abdul Aziz.

Such was our friendship that Zol Embong came to my wedding in Batu Pahat in 2001, while Dr Ramlan's father was my childhood barber. But for those who know me personally and through my writings, personal connection or friendships do not hold me back from being as objective as possible in my assessment, despite accusations on the contrary.

How many of you, including journos, editors and officials, have interviewed or spoken to all six director-generals of the NSC? I have...and since I have covered the NSC and ISN since 1991, allow me the liberty to express my opinion without fear or favour. For sports fans or students of sports management, they need to understand the history behind NSC and its reason for being. Also media bosses need to fathom the politics before listening to one side of the story...and why NSC is as  important as the FA of Malaysia or the BA of Malaysia, if not more...

Episode 1 kicks off with this:

This Open Letter was published by the Malay Mail in 2007.

DEAR Datuk Zolkples Embong and Datuk Dr Ramlan Abdul Aziz, I hope this letter reaches the two of you in great health. First of all, allow me to congratulate you, Datuk Zol, on your appointment as the sixth Director-General of the National Sports Council (NSC).

Also felicitation to Dr Ramlan as the first DG of the National Sports Institute (ISN) although I must say I find it odd that what were formerly a mere division in NSC have been transformed into a separate entity than the NSC DG.

However, I'm sure you, Datuk Zol, would not consider this a setback. Even if a number of analysts consider the splitting of NSC and ISN heralds a new chapter in the governance of Malaysian sports, it is unwarranted, actually.

NSC, established under the NSC Act 1971, is an institution tasked with coordinating, monitoring and protecting Government's interests in elite sports, while ISN was just a division under NSC who is supposed to conduct scientific research and provide support services to its customers, mainly the athletes and other stakeholders.

For you, Datuk Zol, you have finally landed the job which was supposed to be yours anyway. Everybody in the sports fraternity knew you were being groomed by Datuk Wira Mazlan Ahmad for the job but the powers-that-be, perhaps ill-advised or by design, pretended they knew better.

Because of your links with Datuk Wira, who did not share the powers-that-be's reckless extravagance, Dr Ramlan, with his guitar playing skills and medical know-how, was seen as the right man for the job in August 2005.

At that time, however, there was no talk of giving ISN autonomous power. Why now? NSC has evolved since the agency was re-activated in 1982. I'm sure, Datuk Zol, you are aware of this since you have been there since 1984.

By 1998, NSC had grown into a huge and respected entity, particularly when Datuk Wira Mazlan, with the support of his crew and the relevant stakeholders, oversaw a comprehensive plan that enabled Malaysia to pick up 10 gold medals as hosts of the Commonwealth Games.

Under his guidance, NSC was perceived as being authoritarian, prone to making unilateral decisions and too thrifty. Others felt it was necessary to get things done. Some believed the decision-making process was done through a transparent manner, with the advent of joint committee meetings involving both NSC and the National Sports Associations (NSAs).

In that sense, Datuk Wira Mazlan's policy of using an iron hand in a velvet glove, of course with the blessings of Datuk Annuar Musa, Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Datuk Hishammuddin Hussein, was suited to the times.

After all, when Datuk Wira Mazlan assumed the hot-seat in 1993, not only NSC was tasked with the responsibility of producing the goods by the former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad himself, but he had to grapple with NSC's internal politics. He knew NSC, based at the Stadium Negara then, were split into two camps when he inherited the post from Datuk Kamalul Ariffin Abdul Rahim.

I'm sure you don't need reminding which camp you were aligned with, since you and your former boss at the development division, Zaki Abdul Rahman, were stationed at the Maba House. Datuk Wira Mazlan, with Datuk Ho Koh Chye by his side, used golf as the unifying factor and a reason to get his colleagues together.

It was also an open secret Mazlan had identified the late Rahim Haron, a graduate from Perth who was a workaholic and a very knowledgeable official, as his anointed successor before his sudden demise robbed the country of one of the most competent sports administrators.

The challenge for you, Datuk Zol, is to blend Datuk Wira Mazlan's leadership qualities with the charm of Dr Ramlan, and a huge dose of your own management skills.

At the same time, you have to play ball with certain individuals, which is unavoidable in our political and societal landscape, play hard ball with the NSAs, and be on-theball with the athletes, who basically are your top priority.

In dealing with your fellow mortals, Datuk Zol, a high IQ is nothing without a high EQ. As such, you have to balance feelings with logic, reason and reality and act out of desire, not because of guilt, force or obligation.

You have to be morally autonomous, emotionally resilient, and not motivated by power, wealth, status, fame and approval. You must not carry grudges. Being an avid sportsman, you have to be sporting enough to accept criticism and be open to ideas from your subordinates.

I'm sure for the past two years NSC staff were a little bit demoralised. You, Datuk Zol, have to rectify this and revive the team spirit that enabled NSC to deliver the results. Senior officials like Ahmad Shapawi Ismail, who was in charge of the international division until the powers-that-be established a parallel body under Datuk Seri Dr Ibrahim Saad, must be fully utilised to your own advantage.

As for Dr Ramlan, the challenge for you is to change the perception that you have been found wanting even during your days as the director of ISN. Some claim there was a reason why many good medical officers left ISN under a cloud. ISN, your detractors claim, has not done enough to warrant a split.

The bigger challenge for you is to - start delivering what is expected of ISN - scientific support at every State.

Anyway, thank you, Datuk Zol, for succumbing to my persuasion Malay Mail to register a team from NSC to compete at The Malay Mail Big Walk this Sunday. This is unprecedented in the history of NSC, but the The Malay Mail second time the NSC workforce are involved in our project since The he Malay Mail-Nestle Ladies Walk in January.

To Datuk Zol, I look forward to taking potshots at your favourite English club Manchester United over a plate of nasi ayam kampung beside the Kuala Lumpur Velodrome, while I owe Dr Ramlan a satay feast at Ismail Satay, a stone's throw from his parents' house. See you soon.

Warm regards,

 Rizal Hashim.

I remember getting a text message from Zol Embong saying that he almost cried reading this article...because   not everyone knew of the inner workings of NSC...

Bertemu Tokcik, episod 1

Alhamdulillah, baru-baru ini aku berkesempatan bertemu dengan bekas pengulas sukan RTM, Tuan Haji Amran Hamid, dikenali sebagai Tokcik (TC). Rasanya kali terakhir aku berdepan Amran pada mesyuarat agung Persatuan Penulis-penulis Sukan Malaysia (SAM) di Hotel Federal pada 1992. Bayangkanlah sebagai reporter muda, dapat peluang bersua Amran, Zulkarnain Hassan, Hussin Ibrahim, Abdullah Hasim - wajah-wajah yang hanya ditontoni di kaca televisyen.

Menjangkau usia 72 tahun, Amran yang rajin mengemas kini blognya dengan pelbagai isu, bersara sebagai Pengarah TV RTM pada 1995. Kesempatan bertemu kali ini sesudah kami berkenalan semula menerusi Facebook.

Dalam satu perbualan di dinding akaun FB beliau yang turut disertai Hafizal Hamad, kami akhirnya memutuskan untuk merangka satu pertemuan. Awalnya di satu lokasi yang mudah di tetapi akhirnya TC menjemput ke rumah beliau saja.

Perbualan kami berkisar sekitar cabaran menjadi pengulas sukan, kisah di sebalik tabir dan bagaimana penajaan siaran langsung Piala Dunia dan iklannya mengakibatkan insiden pecat-memecat sebuah syarikat besar.

Amran membuat liputan saingan hoki Piala Dunia di Amstelveen 1973, Sukan Asia Teheran 1974, Sukan Oilimpik Montreal 1976 dan Piala Dunia FIFA di Buenos Aires 1978, satu pengalaman berharga yang sepatutnya dikongsi dalam bentuk memoir. Cerita TC bersulam nasihat.

Cukup banyak kisah yang dikongsi, off the record dan on the record!

Selesai interviu, kami dijamu dengan pelbagai juadah. Terima kasih TC dan isteri.

Tanpa yang lama, tiadalah yang baru

HH dan anaknya Ilham Darwish dijamu dengan karipap, sardine roll, jelly, buahan dan mangga ais kisar (ice blended mango) yang dibuat sendiri oleh orang rumah TC...

InsyaAllah episod kedua menyusul.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Al-Fatihah buat Haji Haron

Haji Haron Ismail, Timbalan Presiden Persatuan Tinju Amatur Malaysia (PTAM), meninggal dunia di kediamannya di Johor Bahru selepas Maghrib tadi. Jenazahnya dijadual disemadikan di Johor Bahru pada jam 10.0 pagi.

Allahyarham, bapa kepada peninju negara Muhammad Farkhan, seorang pemurah. Tidak lokek dan sentiasa bersedekah. Pernah satu kenduri kesyukuran anjuran Majlis Sukan Negara (MSN) yang diadakan di Kompleks Sukan Keramat, Allahyarham korbankan beberapa unta.

Allahyarham memenangi pingat perak kategori heavyweight Sukan SEA di Kuala Lumpur 1989, tewas kepada peninju Indonesia asal Papua, Yance Kandaimu. Edisi Sukan SEA itu lebih dikenang kerana kemenangan Zulkifli Yaacob dalam kategori middleweight.

 Dalam program Kafe Sukan bulan April yang lalu, aku menunjukkan gambar di atas yang dirakam sedekad lalu. Baca di sini

Beberapa hari yang lalu, Allahyarham ada membuat panggilan kepada aku tetapi disebabkan aku ada siaran langsung, aku tidak angkat. Kemudian apabila aku membuat panggilan, telefonnya engaged. Kemudian aku terlupa membuat panggilan sekali lagi.

Kali terakhir aku bersembang dengan Allahyarham selepas insiden Farkhan dipukul. Kami bersembang panjang, maklumlah sudah lama tidak berhubung.

Salam takziah kepada keluarga Allahyarham. Semoga Allah mencucuri rahmat ke atas rohnya. Al-Fatihah.