Children should not be rushed into playing friendly matches or tournaments as they have been out of action for 12 months.
Following the relaxation of the Movement Control Order (MCO) in Malaysia this month and the government allowing contact sports including friendlies, Youth Football Academy (YFA) Red Star technical director N. Rada Krishnan said the focus should be on building the stamina of the children.
“Right after the government relaxed the MCO earlier this month, several teams have asked us for friendly matches. In fact, there’s a youth tournament coming up,” said Rada Krishnan.
“I’ve told my coaches that our trainees will not commit to any friendly matches or tournaments for the next two months. We’ve just been letting our young footballers kick the ball around and have not been going hard on the drills because they have not been playing competitively over the past year.”
YFA Red Star trainees train on the weekends at the Hospital Canselor Tuanku Muhriz (formerly known as Hospital Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia) field in Bandar Tun Razak, Kuala Lumpur.
The first MCO was enforced in March 2020 because of the Covid-19 pandemic. The lockdown was relaxed months later but a spike in cases saw the return of the MCO in January this year.
Football and other contact sports activities, especially at the youth levels, came to a standstill.
“The children need time to build up their stamina. They need to get back their strength. You can’t just push them into competitive mode.
“I hope other coaches also go easy on their trainees. We must always remember that we are dealing with children,” he added.
Kuala Lumpur Education Department director Zainal Abas, in an interview with Twentytwo13 earlier this month, said the body mass index (BMI) reading of 80 per cent of Bukit Jalil Sports School students increased due to the lockdown throughout the year.
He said if a bulk of student athletes, who had been training remotely, saw their BMI shoot up, an increase was also expected in other children.
No sporting events are allowed in schools at the moment as the Education Ministry is still monitoring the number of Covid-19 cases.