A couple of weeks ago, the Crown Prince of Johor Tunku Ismail Ibrahim suggested that the move to place promising football talent Luqman Hakim Shamsudin at a club in Belgium owned by local tycoon Tan Sri Vincent Tan is a political black hole.
Harmless stuff, you would have thought, especially as it is true, but the local football community went ape.
Not long after that, came the news that the wonder kid – a graduate from the National Football Development Programme (NFDP) – sold his soul to an intermediary based in the UK. Later, rumours of growing interest from Newcastle United and Bayer Leverkusen circulated on social media but turned out to be a complete sham.
I mean, if you were out “robbing”, you would be fairly sure that some kind of document was prepared or made to thwart the subsequent inquiries from the ‘football police’.
I know what happened here. Millions of taxpayers’ ringgit were channeled into a pointless project which was focused entirely on technical development and did little for talent placements.
The trouble with NFDP is that everyone was engrossed in building good talents but don’t know what to do with them upon graduation. Now, when you leave your car in the middle of the road with all four doors wide open and the key in the ignition, you can be sure that someone will be having a very early Christmas.
You may want to tell me that at the end, all the graduates of the programme had some place to go to pursue their professional football career. But that’s just got me opening another can of worms.
First, the placements were actually initiated and kindly assisted by the former chief executive of the programme, Safirul Azli Abu Bakar. And second, it was reported that all the graduates were offered to only two clubs in the country, leaving us the nasty notion that all the other clubs are rubbish and a foul place to kick off your football career.
The simple fact of the matter is this: NFDP is a government-funded programme. In other words, taxpayers must be able to churn some form of social returns from their investments.
Being a taxpaying fan from Kemaman, it absolutely bothers me to know that not a single player was offered to Terengganu FA and about 20 players were acquired by Selangor FA alone, with the rest going to Johor Darul Ta’zim.
NFDP must introduce and deploy a fair delivery system that ensures that all professional clubs in Malaysia gain equal access to talents leaving their programme. The drafting system used to place college sports talents in professional leagues in the US is a model that NFDP can surely explore.
The technical team at NFDP has done a magnificent job with our local football talents. But the enthusiasts need to be assured that it is also a sustainable and a fair-minded programme with the interest of the public at heart.
This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Twentytwo13.