Friday, September 28, 2012

Raja Bola is no more

When the rest of us were playing football barefooted, there was this one lad who came well-equipped. He had a pair of boots on! He stood out for being very different from the rest.

Ah, what a show-off, some would say. That's the Malaysian psyche those days. Especially among 11-year olds.

But Nik Abdul Halim Abdul Ghani is and was in the province of the privileged. He had footballing pedigree in his blood.

One day I saw his father picking him up.

"Eh that's looks like Ghani Minhat." Yes, having made the newspapers and sports magazines as my regular reading diet, I could instantly recognise him although he was no longer hitting the headlines in the 80s.
No wonder his son came attired in full-gear. It was meant to instill a sense of professionalism at such a young age.

The moment Fariq Rahman called me to inform of Tan Sri Abdul Ghani Minhat's passing this morning, the first number I dialled was that of Nik Abdul Halim. He did not respond, understandably so as he is the eldest son tasked to make the necessary arrangements for his father's final journey. To Nik and family, please accept my deepest condolences.

Never did I imagine being able to be face to face with Raja Bola whom I've had the pleasure of interviewing numerous times. One of them resulted in this piece below, which appeared in the Malay Mail in 2005:

HE remains Raja Bola to many.

To most of his South Korean contemporaries, he was known as Khani. Mailsport's RIZAL HASHIM catches up with legendary Datuk Abdul Ghani Minhat, a Negri Sembilan-born football wizard who weaved his magic with Selangor.

Mailsport: How are you Datuk?

Ghani Minhat: I'm fine. A little bit busy because my electrical company has a deadline to meet.

MS: Do you still keep abreast with football?

GM: Of course, but mostly on the telly. However, as I'm in the Negri Sembilan team management committee, I have been to a few matches including the Premier League final against Selangor.

MS: I believe 1959 was a very significant year for you. First you were bestowed the title Raja Bola by Selangor, and later you were voted by the Sunday Mail readers as the Sportsman of the Year in the biggest ever national sports poll by any Malayan newspaper then (second was sprinter Datuk Shahruddin Ali, followed by footballer Robert Choe).

GM: Yes, but that year also there was a smear campaign against me. I was dropped by the FA of Selangor because I was made the scapegoat due to the team's dip in form. Despite all the honours and adulation, one man does not make a team.

MS: Tell us about your early days.

GM: I did not come from a family of footballers. I played very little organised football until I was invited to play for the Police Depot team in 1951. My father was a staff at the Police Depot at Gurney Road (now Jalan Semarak) and I guess my talent was spotted while kicking a ball around with other youngsters. But I think I had managed to stamp my mark at school level. I can recall back in 1949 when I was representing the Selangor Combined Schools against the boys from Malay College of Kuala Kangsar (MCKK). MCKK players were equipped with boots while we were barefooted. We won 1-0. The MCKK headmaster wanted a rematch the following day, this time without the boots but still we won 6-0. Those days our mode of transport was a lorry belonging to the State Education Department.

MS: Your stint in Germany and England alongside Robert Choe in 1962 was described by the national media as the Big Freeze.

GM: Frozen pitches wreaked havoc to our plans. Our first stop was Frankfurt, with Eintracht, coached by Paul Oswald. It was during winter and I saw snow for the first time in my life. Then Robert and I were attached to West Ham, then coached by Ron Greenwood (later to become England coach 1977-82).

MS: Any regrets?

GM: The class of 1956 was good enough to play in the Melbourne Olympic Games but the FAM did not have the means to finance the entry fee.

MS: What do you think is lacking among today's generation of footballers?

GM: The willingness to go the extra mile to improve themselves. If you talk about the late Mokhtar Dahari, Awang Bakar, Shahruddin Abdullah and Soetjipto Suntoro, they shared the common desire to polish their technique and skills. While others were packing their bags to go home, they were either doing shooting drills or practising free-kicks. I used to start my day as early as 5am by jogging and running around Kampung Baru because I wanted to be superfit.

 Profile: Datuk Abdul Ghani Minhat
 Born: Dec 23, 1935 at Kg Solok (Kg Masjid), Rantau, Negri Sembilan
Family: Wife Datin Tengku Aishah Tengku Ibrahim, sons Nik Abdul Halim and Nik Mohd Hanif, daughters Nik Salwani and Nik Sarina
Achievements: Helping Malaya to the Merdeka Tournament titles in 1958, 1959, 1960, helping Selangor to the Malaya and Malaysia Cup titles on seven occasions (1959, 60, 61, 62, 63, 66, 68), Sunday Mail's Sportsman of the Year 1959.
Current position: Executive chairman of SLM Letronik Maju Sdn Bhd 
Coaching stints: Coach of Malaysia with a few breaks from 1969 to 1977, Selangor for two spells 1970-72, 1983-85 and currently member of Negri Sembilan Premier League management committee.

Later, I did another piece with Raja Bola below, this time for the weekly pullout EPLx Kosmo:

Read here

May Allah grant his soul the gardens of paradise. Al-Fatihah

Monday, September 17, 2012

Real lucky for LIMBC lucky draw

Proton Satria Neo top prize in LIMBC lucky draw

KUALA LUMPUR (Sept 17): Register for the Langkawi International Mountain Bike Challenge (LIMBC) 2012 Tradewinds jamboree on Oct 14 and you could be the one lucky person to drive home a Proton Satria Neo!

The car is the biggest drawcard among the lucky draw prizes worth almost RM100,000 to be given away after the Tradewinds jamboree race at Kuah, Langkawi.

“We are proud to say LIMBC 2012 offers prizes galore for the Tradewinds jamboree lucky draw. It is unprecedented in any jamboree organised in Malaysia to offer a car as the biggest prize,” said Human Voyage CEO, Datuk Malik Mydin.

Who will be the lucky one to drive home with a Satria Neo on Oct 14?

Malik added for just RM60, participants also have a shot at winning items such as iPads, tablet personal computers, Blackberry smartphones, Tissot watches, jerseys and other mountain bike-related equipments.

Some of the gadgets to be won

“Tradewinds jamboree participants will enjoy a great 40km off-road course, get a bag of real goodies and take home the much sought after LIMBC finisher’s medal. Every participant will then stand a chance of driving home with the Satria Neo.”

Malik Mydin entertains question from the media

The off-road jamboree ride is limited to 1,000 riders and serves as the precursor to the 3rd edition of LIMBC on Oct 15-20. For details visit, email, or call +603-9222 0786 or fax +603-9222 1786.

Upon registration participants will receive a goodie bag comprising two exclusive LIMBC T-shirts, a sling bag, a note book, a water bottle, car dashboard accessory, fridge magnet and a mug.

This year’s edition, co-sponsored by Tradewinds Corporation and Yayasan Sime Darby, offers a total prize money of US$125,000 (RM400,000) and is open to four categories of rider – Male Open (ages 19-39 years), Female Open (ages 19 years and above), Masters Men (ages 40-49 years) and Senior Masters Men (50 years and above).

LIMBC 2012 will flag off on Monday 15 October with the prologue - an individual time trial of 2.4km at the Eagle Square, followed by Stage 1, a 65km round the island race.Stage 2 is a 45km race from East to West Langkawi, followed by a gruelling Stage 3, the 87km Langkawi Marathon.

Stage 4 is an Olympic distance Cross Country race around Langkawi GeoPark followed by Stage 5, a stunning beachfront finale around a short circuit at Pantai Kok.

This year’s race has attracted the men’s elite defending champion Karl Platt, UCI MTB Marathon series world No 1, Steffen Thum and Burry Stander who finished fifth in the recent London Olympic Games.

Platt will defend his men's elite title

Top German sprinter Simon Gegenheimer is coming

Men's elite runners-up last year Burry Stander who finished fifth in the Olympics, will have wife Cherise for company

Steffen Thum comes to Langkawi with the tag as the No 1 UCI MTB Marathon series rider 

Tradewinds Corporation Berhad and Yayasan Sime Darby are co-sponsors as Platinum Partners for LIMBC 2012. Silver sponsors are Telekom Malaysia, Proton Holdings Berhad, Berjaya Corporation Berhad and Maju Group. Bronze partners are AmBank Group and ALM Group Sdn Bhd. The event is supported by the Langkawi Development Authority (LADA) and Ministry of Tourism Malaysia.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Doubles delight for ATP Malaysian Open

The Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur 2012, release the main draw doubles entry list today and that its inaugural doubles Champions from Poland, Marcin Matkowski and Mariusz Fyrstenberg will headline the field.

They are seventh in the race for the London World Tour Finals, with the top eight teams qualifying. The pairing won the Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur in 2009 as part of their current title haul of 13 tournaments. In 2010 they were also finalists in Malaysia, and clearly feel very comfortable with the court and playing conditions at Bukit Jalil.

In 2011 they were finalists at the US Open and this year they won the ATP Masters 1000 title in Madrid and were finalists in Dubai.

Tournament Director Nick Freyer of organisers IMG said:

“We welcome back Marcin and Mariusz back to KL for their third appearance in four years and enjoy watching them as much as they seem to enjoy Malaysia. But with so many successful tournament winning doubles players in the draw this year, a third finals appearance will be no stroll in the park.”

To prove the point that singles players are still playing doubles, we will see two players who have been ranked in the world’s top-ten for singles teaming up, Juan Monaco, currently ranked #11 and Jurgen Melzer who is also returning to KL after his first visit last year.

Monaco, who is making his eagerly awaited debut in Malaysia, is not a regular doubles player, but still has two titles and two finals to his credit, while Melzer has significant success on the doubles court - he owns 12 doubles titles including trophies from the Championships at Wimbledon and the US Open.

Asia is nicely represented by Treat Conrad Huey of The Philippines – the first time that the Philippines have been represented in the tournament.

He and British player Dominic Inglot have had a great season in 2012. Together they won the ATP 500 in Washington, reached the final in Houston, were semi-finalists at Newport and quarter-finalists at Estoril and Bucharest. They also made it to the last 16 at the French Open.

Heuy and Inglot are sitting in 17th spot in the race but a few big wins like in Kuala Lumpur, could catapult them into contention for London.

Alexander Peya and Bruno Soares are teaming up again. This year they were finalists at Bastad in Sweden. They also made the quarters of the US Open. Peya also won in Auckland this year while Soares won in Sao Paulo. Julian Knowle and Filip Polasek could very well be turning into quite a formidable doubles tandem. They were quarter-finalists at the US Open and in Winston-Salem this year, but with his other partner Knowle, he has fourteen titles and Polasek has nine.

This year Knowle who has been a career finalist at Wimbledon, the US Open and the season-ending championships, this year won in Kitzbuhel and was a finalist in Estoril, while Polasek won in Munich and Doha.

Another team that could be close to breaking into the London finals are Colin Fleming and Ross Hutchins. They are 13th in the Race and in 2012 won in Eastbourne and Delray Beach, the final at Newport semis in Atlanta, Memphis and Sydney and quarters at Queen’s. They also made the last 16 at the US Open. Last year in KL, both players made a memorable helicopter flight above the famous Petronas Towers, as part of the tournaments international marketing efforts.

Fleming (left) and Hutchins hovering around KL last year

The doubles enhances the singles draw which will be led by world No.5 David Ferrer who became only the second Spaniard after Rafa Nadal to reach the quarters or better at all four Grand Slam events in a single year. Joining Ferrer will be Juan Monaco, Alexandr Dolgopolov, Kei Nishikori, Sam Querry, Feliciano Lopez and a host of other ATP World Tour stars.

Ferrer, who made the semis of the US Open last week, will be heading to Kuala Lumpur following Davis Cup duties this week in Spain (against the United States), and tournament organisers IMG have confirmed that David will play his first match on Thursday evening, September 27th.

The Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur is supported by the Ministry of Tourism, Malaysia, and Tourism Malaysia and commercial sponsors including Rado, the DoubleTree by Hilton Kuala Lumpur, CNN International, Astro, Wilson, 100 Plus, Corona, The ATP World Tour’s Premier Partner, and is sanctioned by the Lawn Tennis Association of Malaysia. Tickets are available at

Friday, September 14, 2012

Speedy recovery for Joe Marcose

FA of Malaysia (FAM) media officer and former Utusan Malaysia sports editor, Joe Marcose, underwent a successful surgery on his left brain, or in medical terms, cerebral angiogram at the University Malaya Medical Centre a while ago. The doctors discovered a benign tumour on the left side of his temple recently. We pray for his quick recovery.

A cup for netball and football

Come to cheer and pledge your support for a children’s cause

Kuala Lumpur, 7 September 2012: Faisal Cup, the first and only football and netball tournament of its kind in Malaysia, is back for the seventh year in a row.

Round 1 of the event started on 24 August 2012, continued with Round 2 on 1 September, Round 3 on 15 September (tomorrow) and the Finals on 29 September at SMK Raja Ali, Jalan Ipoh.

The event features around 90 teams, 63 football teams and 27 netball teams, vying for their respective trophies. A total of 441 boys and 243 girls between the ages of 10 to 16 are participating in this joyous tournament and around 2,000 people are expected to attend to cheer the children on.

This also marks the first year the Asian Football Development Program (AFDP) has come on board as sponsors. The AFDP alongside the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and Mamee-Double Decker are providing their support for the tournament.

"We at the Asian Football Development Project are very proud to be part of Dignity for Children Foundation’s noble efforts to restore hope and empower underprivileged children through education as well as sports,” said HRH Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein, Chairman of the Asian Football Development Project and FIFA Vice President representing Asia.

“The Faisal Cup is an avenue for the children, where their dreams can become a reality and through which they can dream and hope. This event is also in line with AFDP’s commitment to engage the youth in Asia in a game for life that promotes social responsibility and development,” added Prince Ali.

The AFDP, a non-profit youth commission founded by Prince Ali and headquartered in Amman, Jordan, focuses its needs-based support on strengthening football development as well as promoting social development through football across Asia.

 Back row from left: John Sian Pi, Thawk Hnin Thang, Fais, Sulaiman, Mr. Windsor John, Executive Director of the Asian Football Confederation, Mr. Urs Zanitti, CEO of the Asian Football Development Project, Mrs. Petrina Satvinder, Co-Founder of Dignity for Children Foundation, Thang Sang, Junite, Van San Saw, and Ahmad. 2nd row from left: Shen Ting, Mary, Dai Ling Zing, Pam Mana, Kee Young, Bosco and Han Lay. Front row from left: Nay Ling, David, Lal Duh Thang, Van Hnei Thang, Thawng Lian, Aung Zaw Oo, Jessy, Khin San and Ling Hung Young. 

With the encouragement from AFDP, Faisal Cup will also be introducing the Girls’ Football team for the very first time. The delighted sponsors are eager to dispel the misconception that football is only a men’s game.

The debut of the girls’ team will aid in broadening the perspective of the communities. Training for the girls’ teams will begin as soon as this year’s tournament is completed. “We are excited and grateful that the Asian Football Development Project has agreed to journey with us in our humble effort to bring meaning, inspiration and hope to the many underprivileged children out there, who just like Faisal has not had the opportunity and resources to fulfil their dreams,” said Rev. Elisha Satvinder, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Dignity for Children Foundation.

Initiated by Harvest Centre Bhd in 2006, Faisal Cup acts as a voice of freedom and opportunity for underprivileged children. Though birthed through tragedy, the story of Faisal losing his life trying to retrieve a ball he saw floating in the Gombak River has inspired a tournament that emphasizes the value of organised sports and the skills and positive attitudes it cultivates in children.

Rev. Elisha went on to say, “Every year we see not just our project grow but the people who are involved in this journey with us grow as well. The joy and laughter the sports bring to the kids, the children’s firm believe that they are one; they are united no matter what colour or religion, the little things most of the privileged take for granted, all these and more, make it all worthwhile”.

The children have been putting in a lot of effort for the tournament and more than 12 coaches were engaged to provide training for over a period of nine weeks. This year, the organisers have also introduced a Peace Camp, a camp that teaches the children how to achieve personal peace and how to be at peace with others. The camp also focuses on the importance of sportsmanship and anti-bullying.

The Foundation is also hosting a Pledge-A-Ball campaign that will run year round to help create awareness and raise funds for the Faisal Cup. The public is encouraged to take action and pledge RM40 for just one ball. These balls will be used for training purposes as well as for future Faisal Cup tournaments.

This campaign is in keeping with Dignity for Children Foundation’s efforts to ensure that no child will ever have to give up their life just for a chance to play with a ball. Further information on this campaign can be found on the Dignity for Children Foundation’s Facebook page at

For the many underprivileged children just like Faisal, organized sport is a place of freedom, equality, hope, dignity and a place where they can truly strive for more. The proud organisers, Dignity for Children Foundation and the esteemed sponsors, the Asian Football Development Project (AFDP) are working together to ensure that children from underprivileged backgrounds have an equal opportunity to play in a safe environment. If you are interested in sponsoring Faisal Cup or volunteering for the tournament, please visit

For more information please contact Dignity for Children Foundation at +603 4044 1397 or visit Event Details Dates : 24 August, 1 September, 15 September, 29 September, 2012

Venue : SMK Raja Ali, Batu 5, Jalan Ipoh Time : 7.30am Contact Person(s) : Hassan and Beant Kaur Contact number : +603 4044 1397 Website :

Jawatan kosong di FAM

Ada jawatan kosong di Persatuan Bola Sepak Malaysia (FAM).

Jawatan Ketua Jabatan Pengadil di FAM akan dikosongkan oleh Kol Kamaruddin Sakhari mulai 20 Oktober ini. Kontraknya tamat 18 Oktober ini.

FAM mempelawa sesiapa yang berminat untuk memohon jawatan itu tertakluk kepada syarat-syarat kelayakan minimum seperti berikut:

1. Pengalaman sebagai Pengadil Kebangsaan sekurang-kurangnya 7 tahun.
2. Mempunyai pengalaman bertugas sebagai Penilai Pengadil atau Koordinator Perlawanan atau Kommissioner Perlawanan di peringkat kebangsaan sekurang-kurangnya 5 tahun.
3. Mempunyai rekod disiplin yang bersih iaitu tidak pemah dikenakan sebarang tindakan tatatertib.
4. Mempunyai rekod perkhidmatan yang baik sama ada di sektor kerajaan atau swasta atau mana-mana badan badan sukan di peringkat negeri, kebangsaan atau antarabangsa.
5. Mempunyai kemahiran dalam bidang pentadbiran dan pengurusan kepengadilan sama ada di peringkat negeri atau kebangsaan dan mempunyai prestasi kerja yang baik.
6. Mempunyai sifat amanah, jujur dan ikhlas dalam menjalankan tugas dan berkebolehan bekerja lebih masa atau di luar waktu bekerja bagi memastikan kerja-kerja dapat disiapkan pada masa yang ditetapkan.
7. Berkebolehan bertutur dan menulis di dalam Bahasa Melayu dan Bahasa Inggeris dengan baik.
8. Mempunyai kebolehan dan kemahiran yang tinggi menggunakan perisian komputer sekurang-kurangnya Microsoft Word, Excel dan Powerpoint.
9. Calon mestilah bukan: 1. individu yang dalam pendakwaan atas tuduhan rasuah, pecah amanah, penyalahgunaan dadah, pemalsuan atau fraud; 
atau -  individu yang disabitkan dalam kesalahan yang dinyatakan di dalam perenggan (i) di atas dalam tempoh 5 tahun yang lalu;
atau - individu yang dikenakan tindakan bankrap belum dilepaskan.

Calon-calon yang berminat hendaklah memohon kepada FAM dengan menghantar biodata yang mengandungi perkara-perkara di atas dan salinan-salinan sijil yang diperakui sah serta sampul surat beralamat sendiri berukuran 11.5 srn x 24 srn kepada FAM sebelum atau pada jam 12.00 tengahari, 12 Oktober 2012.

Calon-calon yang layak akan dipanggil untuk menghadiri temuduga pada tarikh dan masa yang akan dimaklumkan kelak.

Tahu alamat FAM kan? Jangan hantar memorandum pulak!

Amacam Cikgu Subkhiddin Mohd Salleh? Apa tunggu lagi?

Harap siapa saja ambil alih bersikap terbuka, telus dan cepat merencanakan pembangunan pengadil kerana satu ketika dulu FAM berbangga dengan penonjolan T. Nadarajan, Tan Sri Zain Mahmud Hashim, Datuk George Joseph, Steven Ovinis, Othman Omar, Mohd Nazri Abdullah, Nik Ahmad Yaakub dan Subkhiddin.

Baca Subkhiddin for AfricaCoaching refereesKasihan Pengadil dan Topik hangat di Kafe Sukan.

Ada beberapa calon yang layak - Nik Ahmad yang pernah bertugas di Indonesia, Amir Sharifuddin Wong yang kini di Maldives dan Subkhiddin.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Revving things up

A mammoth task awaits newly-appointed national hockey coach Paul Revington and his assistant, Arul Selvaraj.

The previous partnership of Tai Beng Hai and Nor Saiful Zaini Nasiruddin worked doubly hard to weed out the bad hats from the team. It resulted in an improved performance and greater team spirit leading to the silver medal in the Guangzhou Asian Games in 2010. Gold medal would have assured Beng Hai and his charges an automatic ticket to the London Olympics and possibly an extension to their contract, but alas, God had other plans.

Failure to qualify was followed by the damning media comments on Beng Hai's report. Subsequently I came up with Nothing wrong with Beng Hai's report. By then three names had already cropped up to replace Beng Hai - Ric Charlesworth, Revington and Paul Gaudoin. Read here. Revington, a South African who pitched his tent in Ireland before quitting in May, was unveiled by the MHC recently.

Speaking on Astro Arena's Kafe Sukan recently, Revington - the fourth foreigner to be handling the team after Terry Walsh (1990-94), Volker Knapp (1995-98) and Paul Lissek (1998, 2001-2004), said:

"From the history point of view, I've played against Malaysia a lot of times, I believe there is talent and ability here."

Having spent 21 days in London covering the Olympics, Akbar Sahari conducted the interview with Revington in English, not bad...

Revington and Arul come as a package, with the latter eager to share his knowledge with his fellow Malaysians after six years on the road with South Africa and Ireland.

"Having garnered the experience of coaching hockey in three continents, it has always been my dream to return and give something back to the national team. My wife (K. Soloseeni, former national 800m runner) influenced my decision that it was time to come back."

Revington remains fully aware of the media glare.

"Having been at a couple of tourneys, I know the Press ask a lot of questions. When the comments centre on the failure to qualify for the Olympics, it increases the pressure on the group.

"A lot of people say to me there is a big media influence et cetera but I don't think there is that much difference with other places, there have always been expectations. The bottomline is, I know what I am supposed to do."

He admitted the national squad were well organised but emphasised on the need to embrace a slightly different style that requires defending and attacking in numbers.

"My immediate target is to qualify for major events. Absolutely critical is the road to Rio 2016. But there is the danger of forgetting the minor details that need tweaking today. We need to inculcate the winning culture, we have to keep on winning as consistently as possible and not take every game for granted. In harping on the failure to qualify for the World Cup or the Olympics, it is also essential to focus on development."

Revington is also ready to cope with the media's intense scrutiny.

"When I wake up in the morning, I would not be thinking of what the Press has been writing. My job is to turn quality players Malaysia has into truly world-class players. I love coaching and I get excited with the vision of transforming the players's fortunes and they are not far from it. The media and the pressure come with the job.

"My job is to make sure I produce the goods so that the media can write positive things about the team, as long as I do my job correctly.

Having observed the quality dished out in the ongoing MHL, Revington said:

"Credit to the coaches for producing the players but they are not playing enough top level matches on a long period."

On his selection policy, Revington said:

"The national side team will field the strongest players, at the end of the day we are here to win, so in my simple selection policy, there is no favouritism. I will pick players regardless of age. Although the juniors won the Asia Cup, we should not forget some of the older players who can pass on their experience to the younger set of players. We need to have the balance right, the juniors playing with the older guys, as a  natural progression."

Read also the NST here and the Star here

Had the pleasure of covering Walsh from the sidelines. A good coach who managed to blend together the talent of Mohamed Abdul Hadi with the discipline of Nor Saiful Zaini. MHF set a target of finishing sixth in Barcelona'92 but Malaysia ended up ninth. 

Although his critics claim his team-first approach stifled the natural ability of our players, Paul Lissek's biggest legacy is the silver medal in KL'98...he was first offered the job in 1994 following Walsh's departure but having taken up the role of director of coaching with Germany, he proposed his protege

Volker Knapp... once slapped with the Turkey of the Year title by the Malay Mail. Knapp's days in KL came to an end after Malaysia finished 11th out of 12 teams in the 1998 World Cup in Utrecht 

If Revington and Arul failed to rev the team up, waiting in the wings are the duo Dharma Abdullah and Mirnawan Nawawi who guided the juniors to the Asia Cup title in Malacca

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Patching holes


Did you know the dry gym at the National Sports Institute (NSI) was not properly maintained that Pandelela Rinong had to use duct tape to patch the holes and tears on the trampolines?

Well, my apologies, the dry gym comes under the NSC...

"Pada Selasa 11 September 2012, di dalam laman blog saudara Rizal ada satu kenyataan yang bertajuk Patching Holes yang telah memaklumkan mengenai perkara berikut : Did you know the dry gym at the National Sports Institute (NSI) was not properly maintained that Pandelela Rinong had to use duct tape to patch the holes and tears on the trampolines?

 "Untuk makluman dan pembetulan, setelah dirujuk kepada Ketua Pegawai Eksekutif ISN, En Ahmad Shapawi memaklumkan bahawa dry gym yang dimaksudkan adalah milik Majlis Sukan Negara (MSN) di mana ia terletak di Pusat Aquatik, Bukit Jalil. Jika saudara mempunyai sebarang makluman atau pertanyaan boleh menghubungi saya untuk keterangan lanjut. Terima kasih di atas perhatian dan kerjasama yang diberikan."

 NORMILA BINTI ISMAIL Pegawai Belia dan Sukan -PS(M1) Unit Komunikasi Korporat (UKK)

While we congratulate the Sports Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek for his swift action in approving a budget to upgrade the aquatic centre and the dry gym (read here), one wonders what have the officials at National Sports Council (NSC) done to maintain facilities right under their noses and spectacles? Lack of money, maybe?

Maybe the Ministry might want to audit the number of overseas travelling enjoyed by certain or all personnel at NSC and ISN.  Has it been at their own expense or the rakyat's hard-earned ringgit? How about it Datuk KSU? At least those thousands of ringgit can be channeled to buy duct tapes...hehe

Also, why not restrict the Director-General to one overseas assignment each that he can focus on doing what's best for the country - that is crack his brain to strategise and pulverise the opponents!

In the meantime Mr Minister, kindly monitor the tender or bid process...make sure no hanky-panky please! No one from the association or any related agency should be making money out of the exercise. Really.

Enjoy the picture, nonetheless.

Pandelela Rinong appeared on Kafe Sukan on Aug 18

Pandelela was elated with the gift - a dolphin soft toy courtesy of assistant producers Nurul Ain Mohd Nor and Azrin Hamzah 

No, that chap on the left is not someone who was born in the Ahmed Shahrazad Sani, Pandelela's mum Hartini Lamin, Pandelela, her father Pamg Joheng and yours truly

Dengan Izin, dengan Malek Rahman

Paparan youtube di atas diambil daripada laman web

Program Dengan Izin terbitan Slamet Sazly Yakub di Astro Arena 801 Jumaat lalu, menampilkan bekas perancang Selangor, Malek Rahman. Sambil mengaku menerima sogokan untuk menang yang mengakibatkan dia digantung satu setengah tahun pada 1994, Malek dengan beraninya mendedahkan beberapa perkara berkaitan rasuah yang harus dijadikan renungan pencinta bola sepak tempatan.

1. Rasuah hari ini lebih besar daripada skandal 1994/95 kerana sekarang ada perjudian atas talian.

2. Bookie terbabit dalam pengurusan sebuah kelab.

3. Kenapa pihak berkuasa dilihat lambat mengambil tindakan.

Gambar aku dengan Malek (kiri) dan Ismail Ibrahim pada 1992

Malek dan aku 2012

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Farewell to Tan Sri Hamzah Abu Samah

Tan Sri Hamzah Abu Samah's was laid to rest at the National Mausoleum after Zohor prayers today, a fitting and ultimate tribute to the only Malaysian who reached the pinnacle of sporting officialdom as a member of the executive members of FIFA and the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

Read New Straits Times' report herehere and the Star here.

When Hamzah was made the Culture, Youth and Sports Minister, one of his first tasks was to establish the National Sports Council under the National Sports Council Act 1971.

He mooted the idea to host the Commonwealth Games and suggested for the country to have a clarion call which led to Milo's Malaysia Boleh slogan ahead of the Singapore SEA Games in 1993, as Datuk Dina Rizal can testify here

Hamzah's timeline in the world of sporting officialdom:

1971 - tabled the National Sports Council Act, as Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports

1976 - Elected to head FAM and OCM, succeeding Tun Razak who passed away in London, for both seats

1978 - Elected to head AFC in the Bangkok Congress on Dec 18 to co-incide with the Asian Games, succeeding acting president Kambiz Atabai who presided over the governing body following Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra's resignation in 1977. Elected to be a member of the IOC executive, a position he held until 2004.

1980 - president of FAM that oversaw the team qualifying for the Moscow Olympics and entering the  Asian Cup finals, also underwent coronary bypass

1982 - Elected as FIFA vice-president

1984 - replaced by Sultan Ahmad Shah as FAM president

1990 - lost to Sheikh Fahed Al Sabah of Kuwait by one vote for the FIFA vice-presidency from Asia in the AFC Congress in Bali but maintained his position as AFC chief

1992 - crucial in lobbying for the rights to stage the Commonwealth Games, culminating with the victory over at the Barcelona Olympics

1993- Joint chairman of Sukom 98 Berhad with Senator Annuar Musa

1994 - withdrew from defending AFC presidency, paving the way for Sultan Ahmad Shah to take over

1998 - Unseated as OCM president by Tunku Imran Tuanku Ja'afar

When I wrote about the country's 50 most influential sports figures for the Malay Mail in conjunction with Malaysia's 50th birthday, Hamzah's name was certainly among those on the top. Read here

For former Utusan Malaysia sports editor and later Berita Harian writer-cum-sub editor, Ismail Ahmad, Hamzah was a leader par excellence.

"I have a lot of personal insights and experience with the late Hamzah. In the 1970s and early 80s, NSC were dormant. So OCM and the Sports Ministry were the driving force of the sports fraternity. On a tour to Australia, the national hockey team requested for financial assistance to a tune of RM60,000 but I told him "no Datuk (at that time he was not yet a Tan Sri), the team had lost four matches. RM60,000 was big money those days! He was open enough to accept ideas."

Ismail or Iba to his friends, covered the Asian Games in Bangkok, when the national football team were given a 7-1 hiding by China.

"Hamzah felt cheated. He told me "Mail, if given a choice I would send the players to the guard room," Ismail said, alluding to allegations of bribery surrounding the team then.

"There was once the late Mokhtar Dahari confessed of having been approached by Indonesian officials to fix a Merdeka Tournament match. Mokhtar disclosed this to Hamzah before me at the Equatorial Hotel. It was an open secret Mokhtar announced his retirement a few times at the height of his powers as he had grown disillusioned with the game. Hamzah said Mokhtar was clean and perhaps he belonged to the group of minority who did not sell their soul to the highest bidder."

According to Ismail, Hamzah enjoyed the highs and suffered the lows of officialdom, probably the most tragic was when he lost to the FIFA vice-presidency from Asia by a vote in the AFC Congress in Bali in 1990!

"It was the darkest moment of his career in sports. Hamzah lost the FIFA vice-presidency for Asia by one vote, 15-16 to Sheikh  Fahed Al Sabah of Kuwait,  and two were spoilt votes. I was there with Fauzi Omar (now Datuk) of New Straits Times and saw the commotion when the late Datuk Abu Bakar Daud, an FAM delegate in the Congress, was ordered to leave the room. Fellow journalists from neighbouring countries came to us asking what happened...the delegates from FAM had betrayed their former president."

"Hamzah was upset by a betrayal he considered of the highest order. I met him later that night when I saw with my own eyes how tears flowed down the cheek of a former Minister. I was called to his room accompanied by Peter Velappan (Datuk), the AFC general secretary.

"He told me "Mail, the FAM conspired to oust me. Mail, you listen to me, Sheikh Fahed will not last long in the seat. True enough three months later Iraq invaded Kuwait on August 2, 1990 and Sheikh Fahed was killed and Hamzah was re-installed as FIFA vice president from Asia."

The Arabs were intensely canvassing for votes the night before the election as they went room to room, promising the world to the delegates. When I bumped into Sheikh Fahed having dinner, he asked me: "Are you on my side or Hamzah's side? I told him as a journalist one has to remain neutral. But he knew I was very close to Hamzah."

Later after Velappan was asked to leave the room, Hamzah told me to pick up his briefcase and then took out three pills before I helped him to bed. I was afraid he had suffered a heart-attack!"

Ismail can be seen here

Hamzah (fifth from left, front row) with FAM exco members in 1976 - History of Football in Malaysia 1900-2000

Hamzah with Sheikh Hamdan Zayed Al-Nahyan, president of UAE FA and FIFA president Joao Havelange during a match in the 8th Asian Cup in Abu Dhabi in 1988  - Power of Dreams

With IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch  - Power of Dreams

Ismail's junior by a few years, Nasir Ahmad, said one incident involving his colleague Zainal Abidin clearly defined Hamzah's character. Hungry for more information, Zainal almost threw himself onto Hamzah's car. Hamzah opened the door and the two continued their conversation as the car sped off!

"MUNGKIN saya tidak begitu rapat dengan Allahyarham berbanding bekas bos saya, Ismail, Mustakim dan Allahyarham Zainal Abidin (Spy13), namun sifat rendah diri, menjadikan Hamzah Abu Samah sangat istimewa di kalangan wartawan sukan. Satu peristiwa, sebaik tamat sidang media di Stadium Negara, 'Spy13' yang tak puas hati bahannya, menerkam ke kereta Allahyarham yang bergerak perlahan untuk pulang. Hamzah membuka pintu, mengajak Zainal masuk untuk 'sambung' temubual dan kereta terus meluncur pergi. Hari itu sejarah pun tercipta. Ia sekadar memberi isyarat, Hamzah boleh ditemui di mana-mana dan pada bila-bila masa. Al-Fatihah!" - NASIR AHMAD

"Hamzah was very open to criticism and took them by his stride. Imagine he was chief of FAM and OCM, as well as AFC...but he remained a gentleman until his death," said Nasir.

Tan Sri Hamzah Abu Samah
Date of Birth: Jan 5, 1924
Marital Status: Married to Toh Puan Zainon Hussein, seven children
1990 Merit Award, Olympic Council of Asia (OCA).
1996 IOC Centennial Sporting Excellence Award by Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM)
1999 "Tokoh Sukan" National Sports Awards
2000 OCM Hall of Fame, Olympic Council of Malaysia.
2003 Sports Leadership Award, Pahang.

Our deepest condolences to Tan Sri's family! May his soul be granted the gardens of paradise. Al-Fatihah.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Piala Emas Raja-Raja kembali November ini

Kuala Lumpur: Kejohanan bola sepak tertua di negara ini, Piala Emas Raja-Raja Edisi Ke-72 bakal meneruskan tradisi kegemilangannya apabila 16 pasukan memulakan cabaran awal peringkat kumpulan bermula dari 9 hingga 11 November depan.

Dibahagikan kepada empat kumpulan menyaksikan Pahang selaku juara 2011 diundi dalam kumpulan C bersama Angkatan Tentera Malaysia, Perak dan Pulau Pinang.

Kumpulan A menyaksikan Kedah selaku tuan rumah bersaing dengan Kuala Lumpur, Johor dan Singapura. Sementara Melaka, Negeri Sembilan, Selangor dan MASUM berentap dalam kumpulan B. Aksi kumpulan D tampak sengit apabila Kelantan juara Piala Agong 2011 serta pasukan yang paling banyak menjuarai Piala Emas Raja-Raja berdepan satu lagi pasukan jaguh pantai timur, Terengganu yang turut menyaksikan cabaran pasukan Perlis serta Polis DiRaja Malaysia.

Mesyuarat Jawatankuasa Pertandingan yang dipengerusikan Dato’ Lt.Kol (B) Mohd.Nor Mohd Darus bersidang Ahad lalu turut menggariskan beberapa perubahan dalam peraturan pertandingan, antaranya kesemua 6 pemain dari Liga Super atau Liga Premier yang mahu diturunkan perlu mendapat surat pelepasan dari majikan masing-masing sambil mengekalkan hanya empat pemain berstatus profesional yang dibenarkan beraksi pada sesuatu perlawanan.

Jadual peringkat suku akhir secara timbal balik dijadualkan 17 November 2012 dan 24 November 2012. Peringkat separuh akhir juga secara timbal balik pada 1 Disember 2012 dan 8 Disember 2012. Kemuncak perlawanan akhir Piala Emas Raja-Raja 2012 ditetapkan pada 22 Disember 2012.

Tirai pertandingan Piala Emas Raja-Raja 2012 bakal dimulakan dengan perlawanan Sumbangsih diantara Pahang selaku juara bertahan Piala Emas Raja-Raja 2011 menentang Kelantan selaku juara Piala Agong 2011.

Perlawanan tersebut dijadualkan di Stadium Darul Makmur Kuantan, jam 8.45 malam. Jawatankuasa pertandingan pada mesyuarat tersebut juga menawarkan kepada mana-mana syarikat atau organisasi yang mahu menaja Kejohanan musim ini agar menghubungi PBSMM ditalian 03 78803001 atau melalui fax ke 03 78803002.

Sorakan 12

Berbanding dengan Formasi yang diterajui Zainal Abidin Rawop dan lebih berteraskan diskusi pra dan pasca perlawanan, program bola sepak terbaru Astro Arena Sorakan 12 lebih menjurus ke arah perbincangan berasaskan isu semasa. Daripada pengacara Ahmed Shahrazad Sani hingga kepada penerbit Hafiz Fazre Wahid, Sorakan 12 adalah hasil kerja tenaga produksi yang cukup muda.

Progam ini sarat dengan topik berat - misalnya isu Muslim Ahmad dan Ismail Faruqi As'hari dengan Peter Butler. Semoga berjaya!

Ahmed dan Shasha Alkhred bersama Azlan Johar dan Dayne Azmin Ghazali dari Utusan Malaysia

Catch the ball and win a Rado watch

The Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur on Sept 22-30 is excited to reveal the 2012 version of its’ signature competition played daily after every centre court match, the “Catch the Ball Challenge”.

On the last three days, Friday to Sunday, a Rado watch worth RM 6,600 each will be available as the Grand Prize of the day.

IMG's Nick Freyer, tournament director, said: “One of our goals every year with the Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur is to make sure our wonderful fans get to watch great tennis but most of all have fun and enjoy an experience to remember.

“Our player field is tremendous with players like David Ferrer, Juan Monaco, Alex Dolgopolov, Kei Nishikori, Sam Querry, Ryan Harrison to name a few and now Brian, and no doubt activities like our “Catch the Ball Challenge” with its prestigious Rado Grand Prizes will be right up there in the fun stakes.”

Meanwhile Brian Baker, the American tennis player who for almost a decade was not able to compete on the Tour because of injuries and surgeries, has been given a new lease of life.

Now, at the age of 27 he has been given a second chance. Since late April, Brian Baker has been on a wonderful journey and that journey will be making a transit stop in Kuala Lumpur, as the ATP World Tour weaves its way through Asia later this month.

“We are excited that Brian has accepted the first singles main draw wild card,” Freyer said. “His story is truly inspirational; to think that a year ago he was coaching a college team in the United States having undergone five major surgeries to include a repaired elbow, hip and more.

“His comeback has been one of the most talked about stories in tennis and his determination to never give up has allowed him to move his world ranking from the deepest depths, to now be at a career high of 70. His story is one of THE sports stories of 2012 and our very welcoming tennis fans will have the opportunity to congratulate him for his achievements live when he plays the Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur.”

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Tales from London, according to the mole

A number of moles told me:

1. Officials from Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) had to take turns in rubbing shoulders with the who's who in the world of sports due to the limited Olympic passes in London. One official though was accorded special privileges - a pass from his/her international governing body, another pass from OCM's allocation. Class! Since OCM president Tunku Imran Tuanku Jaafar is a member of the elite club IOC, his presidential pass was given to his deputy Datuk A Sani Karim who however could not make it. The NOC President's pass entitled the holder to a chauffeur-driven car/limo among the privileges! Wow. So who got to enjoy the ride?

2. Assuming Pandelela Rinong Pamg's prospects looked bleak after a poor first dive in the 10m platform women's individual final, a top OCM official chose to go to the Olympic Stadium to watch the blue riband event - athletics, thus missing diving's medal ceremony which put Malaysia onto the world map. Of course the opportunity to watch Usain Bolt in the flesh is much better than celebrating Malaysia's first medal outside badminton!

3. Extra tickets already paid for were not given away to fans or supporters for selected events...apa susah, not their money...

4. Up to 15 officials from the National Sports Institute (NSI) flew to London, with chief medical officer Datuk Dr Ramlan Abdul Aziz and two physiotherapists embedded with the contingent, the rest outside the Games Village. Wah co-ordinator from Bath to London ah, what else to co-ordinate from outside? Balik saja lah...A few balik, like chef, fitness and conditioning experts...but need two sportscode operators ah?

5. A few OCM office-bearers were privileged enough to be accompanied by their partners/spouses. One of the perks of holding office.

Bathing, not basking, in the glory. Bath is basically Hertfordshire II on a smaller scale. Read  here and here. Read the debate here

Thanks to the huge profit from organising the Malaysian Open, BAM officials got to enjoy the London Games.

6. The Malaysian contingent were served by two secretariats - one inside the Games Village, one outside. Maybe one to serve athletes/coaches, another to be at the beck and call of VVIPs.