I am not here to be blasphemous on the effort made by Malaysian soccer authority to develop soccer in this country. Their endurance to keep the game interesting as well as developing talents however more often than not have come to a nought. Sad.
As for me, no matter how bad the game is in Malaysia, I am still an ardent fan of the national team. Never mind if we gets trashed by our opponents but I have always been at the stadium when we had international matches. Never mind if I am the lone soul wearing Malaysian colors in between the sea of reds when MU came and had practice matches with our kids.
After all that we have gone through, changing management in the national association, brought known overseas coaches, spending money to send kids to learn a trick or three from foreign clubs etcetera, very little progress have been seen.
After 20 years of lackluster performance of he national team, we finally won a gold medal in the recent SEA games although we were a bit lucky to get that goal which sometimes we could say a god sent goal. But I must say I like the attitude of the players coach Rajagobal has developed. At least they have shown they have the mettle to take their opponents and their never say die attitude even when they are trailing were something we seldom see in the past. Our short stoppers were good but I still missed the great Arumugam! The backlines are decent but I am still waiting to see the likes of Chin Aun, Santokh Singh, Namat Abdullah, M Chandran, just to name a few. The engine room still lacks brains of Wong Choong Wah and a work horse like Shukor Salleh. I would not want to continue talking about the strike force as so far none is as good as Super Mokh, Syed Ahmad, Ghani Minhat, Sharuddin Abdullah, Isa Bakar or James Wong. The only promising talents seen that came close to the greats was probably Zainal Abidin Hassan and Akhmal Rizal. Unfortunately Akhmal Rizal games were suffered when he has to come back to play soccer in Malaysia because he was denied a working permit in France only for the reason that Malaysia is lowly ranked in the world’s soccer ranking. I even has seen Akhmal Rizal was tagged with a price in one of the Europen soccer website when he was with FC Hagenau (sorry if I got the name wrong). Am I not proud of him? Even today I enjoyed watching him althouh he is not that sharp anymore.
Having lowly ranked in the world’s soccer rankings is indeed a disadvantage to Malaysian budding talents but looking at the positive side, although these talents have dream to don the colors of their dream team, they should progress from the lower leagues from the well developed soccer nations. But these kids need to be bold if they want to swim with the bigger fish in the bigger pond. Perhaps Lim Teong Kim could share his thoughts as he has made a bold move to Germany all by himself and eventually involved in the development of kids from Bayern Munich after he retires from competitive soccer.
Those who have watched those great stalwarts will always compare those greats vis-a-vis the current ones as they have brought a lot of success for us. The new generations might not have known but we have lived the glory moments especially seeing our team played in the first Olympics. Never mind if we have not won any of the matches but just imagine seeing our team played in one of the world’s top notch tournament. Should we opt to play in the Moscow Olympic, we could have done a little bit better. Just my wild guess. Well, even Japan and Korea progressed slowly in the World Cup when they first qualified in this modern soccer era. But they have been making inroads at the world stage when they can now win matches with great European or South American teams. Korean makes headways in the world’s greater soccer leagues with many of their players able to make first team appearance in the teams they played.
Although is may be seen impossible, our kids too could make their dreams come true with right attitude and right development. Everything must start very early. From simple things like diets to more complicated things like mental preparedness. The African kids are very strong at heart and that makes them making waves in many soccer leagues in the world. They are indeed lions who can survive any conditions. Perhaps that is the only avenue that will take them out of obscurity.
Parents who inspires to see their kids profess in the game name soccer at big stage must support and invest in their kids development towards the sport and it can be in any sports. A lot of people makes tons of money being exceptionally good in certain sports. Isn’t this a very good investment than forcing your kids to do something not close to their heart and finally end up working in a bank and then struggling to make ends meet? Education is important but if your kids don’t like it you must at least force them to master English or any other language that can help them communicate. The basic knowledge they learn at junior school shall be sufficient to help them count the money they have in the bank. But if they can profess both in sports and education, let them be! All you need is to support them and give them freedonm to express themselves.
But at the end of the day, BIG HEART is all that matters! Ask the soccer greats, past and present and they will tell you how. Ask the African players and they will prove they could achieve their dreams too. Ask yourself if you agree and ask you kids whether they really WANT IT!