Devinder Singh is a freelance sports journalist. He is also a hardcore Kuala Lumpur fan.
Ever since football returned following the partial lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the 42-year-old from Wangsa Maju has been publishing Kuala Lumpur match day programme books called ‘Sampai mati Kuala Lumpur’.
He has been forking out his own money to come up with three books so far that are stashed with facts and statistics of Kuala Lumpur’s home matches against UKM (Aug 28), Terengganu II (Sept 12) and Selangor 2 (Sept 25).
The programme book has match reports, past results, quotes from Kuala Lumpur coach Nidzam Adzha Yusof and players, match preview, facts about the city team and its opponent, past encounters and statistics of the players for the 2020 season.
“It’s purely my initiative at my own expense,” said Devinder.
“Fans can’t watch the matches at the stands, so it’s a good way for them to be kept informed of their team’s progress.”
He pointed out the idea was not new as the city side had in the past produced match day programme books.
“In fact, I have one at home … it is from the 80s … and I drew inspiration from that book. It’s been done before but it’s not been done for a long time. And I don’t think any other team in the country is doing something like this.
“It’s an experiment for now. I would like to see the response as the long-term goal is to mass produce and sell to fans who watch Kuala Lumpur’s home matches.”
Devinder, however, acknowledged that fans may only appreciate such an initiative if it is given to them for free.
“Are they (the fans) willing to buy? I’m not sure, to be honest.”
Devinder, who covers Kuala Lumpur home matches, said based on initial feedback, the fans were appreciative of the books.
“I’ve got the match day programme books online but I’ve also been printing between 10 and 15 copies to pass around to the fans who linger outside the stadium and officials on match day. They have been receptive.
“It can be viewed as a collector’s item. Such programme books are a big thing in most football-developed nations.”
While fans are still not allowed to watch the matches from the stands, Devinder said six to seven hardcore supporters have been lending their support outside the Kuala Lumpur Stadium in Cheras.
“There’s a small gap where they can watch the match. It’s a different feeling watching football matches without any fans. At least last time 50 to 100 city supporters would come to lend their support.
“But these fans who watch from outside, their voices can be heard, so it somehow makes up for the awkward silence in the stadium.”
Devinder said some Kuala Lumpur football officials have asked him about his initiative.
“They did ask if I could produce the programme books on their behalf, but it’s just informal talks.”
He added such an initiative was easily done and that a club need not have a million ringgit allocation or a huge committee to get it done.
In fact, Devinder has shown that the match day programme book can be done by just one person.
“The problem is that most football teams in Malaysia are run by individuals who are not business-savvy. We need business-minded people to develop the business side of football.
“Football teams can’t just rely on volunteers these days as they don’t really put in the effort as they are not paid to do it.”
Devinder insists his love for the Premier League team is justified although it is struggling to achieve the greatness of the late 80s.
“It’s my hometown team. If a football fan does not support the hometown team, who else will?”
The final Kuala Lumpur home match day programme book for the season will be published on Oct 9 when the city side takes on Kuching FA.
Kuala Lumpur is eyeing promotion to the Super League as the team is second in the Premier League having secured 20 points from nine matches.
Devinder welcomed advertisers to be part of the initiative.
“It would be a great help, at least it can cover the printing cost. Printing in colour can be expensive,” said Devinder in jest.
For those intending to advertise, contact Devinder at 0162792310.