Grassroots, community football in mind as FAM hopes for M-League to resume

While the guardians of Malaysian football are eager to get the M-League going, the FA of Malaysia (FAM) has not forgotten about community leagues and the sport at the grassroots.

In fact, FAM general secretary Stuart Ramalingam revealed talks were ongoing to ensure football at the lower levels is not forgotten as the world battles the Covid-19 pandemic.

Malaysia has been under the Movement Control Order since March 18 and the order was relaxed on May 4 to revive the economy. However, contact sports, including football, remain on the National Security Council’s list with the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) ending on June 9. It remains unclear if there will be an extension.

“The face of the (football) industry is the M-League. The impact (of Covid-19) is also seen at the community level, grassroots and social leagues. Grassroots is important to us,” said Stuart on the weekly talkshow The RSS with HD over the weekend.

“We have had discussions internally about grassroots football. But we also don’t want to risk children’s health in open spaces.”

Stuart pointed out it would be difficult to adopt the standard operating procedures, which include testing for Covid-19, in social leagues or at the grassroots.

“It will be easier for the M-League. We have in fact proposed two papers to the Youth and Sports Ministry. One is an SOP for training and the other for matches, if the league resumes.”

FAM has set September for the M-League, with the ball now in the government’s court to allow the Super and Premier Leagues to resume.

The national body is expected to meet the authorities yet again in mid-June to discuss the matter.

Stuart also said the M-League would not resume if the football community was not ready.

Footballers in the English Premier League have expressed concerns over their league restarting in mid-June as UK has recorded 240,000 Covid-19 cases with over 34,000 deaths to date.

Players in Malaysia, some forced to become fishermen or sell food, are eager to play.

“It’s not an apple to apple comparison. Money is no object to players in England. But if you compare the severity of the pandemic, our Health Ministry has done a good job in keeping the numbers down.”

Malaysia has fewer than 7,000 cases with 113 deaths to date.

“There, however, could be pop-ups of new clusters and we need to monitor that.

“If we all stick to the SOPs and guidelines, we can start in September. We still have breathing space. By mid-June, we will be able to make better informed decisions,” he said on the show.

Hosted by actor and comedian Rashid Salleh and joined by Twentytwo13 editor Haresh Deol, The RSS with HD is a weekly YouTube talkshow (The RSS) that has featured several big names in the sporting scene, including Malaysia’s first and only Formula One driver Alex Yoong, former National Sports Institute chief executive officer Datuk Dr Ramlan Aziz, former squash star Sharon Wee and mixed martial arts sensation Colleen Augustin.

The show is produced by Toucan Media and Professional Storytellers while the official apparel is sponsored by Amnig.

Catch the show every Sunday at 4pm while The RSS with HD – Extended, which features topics beyond sports, is aired every Wednesday at 4pm.