Malaysian football last qualified for the Olympics, 41 years ago. Since then, it has been struggling in the Southeast Asian region.
Yet, it remains the nation’s number one sport.
When Harimau Malaya wins a match or two, there will be those who will praise the performances of the national team as though they have won the World Cup. Some are even rewarded handsomely, with titles or money.
However, when the national team loses (and the team has been losing quite a lot since 1980), there will be a sudden interest in grassroots football.
Twentytwo13 editor Haresh Deol, in his latest column in Getaran, said the same was seen when the national team lost 4-0 to Jordan, and 5-1 to Uzbekistan in two friendly matches, recently.
“Questions were raised as to the effectiveness of the development programmes in Malaysia, and how long it would take for Malaysian football to be on a par with the best in Asia,” Haresh wrote.
“Stakeholders will stress that there are several development plans, including the National Football Development Programme, and the upcoming SupaRimau League.
“But these plans are quite new. The grassroots programme, over the past 40 years, doesn’t seem to have succeeded. Many may not want to admit it, but the state associations have failed in this regard. Our education system, which places too much of an emphasis on academics, has also frustrated the development of sports in general.”
Haresh said more emphasis should be placed on grassroots sports. This would help unearth more talents, ensuring a continuity of quality players for the national stable.
Haresh, together with Twentytwo13 executive editor Graig Nunis, also spoke about the matter on their weekly talk show, Rembat!
The show, in partnership with Football Tribe Malaysia, saw former national coach B. Satiananthan wading into the conversation of grassroots football.