The concept of stadium tours and club museums is alien to Malaysian football despite the rich history the teams have.
As such, I was pleasantly surprised when I came across ‘Hall of Fame Selangor’ on Facebook. The person running it is Norrisyam Ramli and I ‘met’ him virtually over the weekend to find out more about his initiative.
Norrisyam became a Selangor fan when Selangor played at the Merdeka Stadium. He was 10 years old at the time and worked part-time taking care of the motorcycle helmets of fans who thronged to the stadium to watch matches.
He would sneak into the stadium in the last five minutes of the matches to watch the players in action. That was where his love affair with the Red Giants began.
His inspiration to create the Hall of Fame came from the late Datuk Mokhtar Dahari, who was a one-club man at Selangor. Norrisyam sports a similar look to his hero but wasn’t able to play for Selangor. He felt creating the Hall of Fame for his favourite team was his way of showing affection to his beloved team.
He created the Hall of Fame seven years ago and it is located at the Shah Alam Stadium.
Visitors to the Hall of Fame can find memorabilia and items such as trophies, medals, old magazines, old tickets, players’ training kits and supporter kits, dating back to 1921.
He amassed this treasure from collectors of vintage memorabilia, former players, and supporters – paying out of his own pocket for most of the items, except for some that were donated to him.
He prefers to buy them outright as he would then hold the rights to the items.
The challenge he faces is in locating these historical items, as many are no longer available.
Unlike in Europe, these historical items are not taken care of, and not really valued by their owners.
Hall of Fame Selangor is a private initiative by Norrisyam, and has even caught the attention of the Football Association of Selangor. The organisation is aware of his initiative from the dawn of his project, but Norrisyam is disappointed that the association had not offered him any support – including helping him to procure items for the Hall of Fame from past and present players.
As he is working on this initiative full-time, he has to fund the items either by using his savings, assistance from his friends, or by reselling contemporary jerseys.
In this regard, his greatest challenge is in identifying an item for his Hall of Fame, saving up, and paying for said item.
His initial concept was to do a paid stadium tour as they do in Europe, as he feels it would provide an additional source of income for the club. It would also be beneficial for the state government to encourage this concept as this could be marketed as a tourist attraction. Unfortunately, the authorities have yet to come to the same realisation.
He was recently introduced to an adviser from the Fifa World Football Museum, Salvador Duarte, who advised him to expand his collection to include memorabilia and history from other state teams in Malaysia. This, according to the Mexican, would turn Norrisyam’s Hall of Fame into a one-stop centre for the history of Malaysian football.
If Norrisyam receives support from the relevant authorities, he would like to take up the challenge of upgrading his Hall of Fame to a museum for Malaysian football.
His Hall of Fame has received visitors from nearby Singapore, Thailand, and Indonesia, to as far away as Brazil, Germany and Wales. Some of the most popular visitors included Fandi Ahmad, Malek Awab, Samad Allapitchay, Zainal Abidin Hassan and members of the Tottenham Hotspur team, including Erik Lamela, when they were in Kuala Lumpur for a pre-season friendly in 2015.
He hopes his efforts would one day be recognised by the relevant authorities and to take this venture to the next level.
This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Twentytwo13.