Datuk Soh Chin Aun answers your 10 questions


What was the inspiration to captain a football team that played for the state and the country? How can we raise the standard of Malaysian football? Nobin K. Chaudhury, Seremban.

I have been playing football since young and when you do that, you will know (your capabilities). I felt I had the capabilities to be in the national team, especially when I compared myself with the other players. I knew my strengths and felt I had a shot at making the team.

As for your next question, I believe we need to start (training) from school days, when they are still young and willing to learn. They need proper guidance and coaching. We have to start from fresh, as we cannot depend on the present national team. They are not going anywhere.

From the current team, there is nothing much you can change anymore. We must have at least 10 years planning. After that 10-year period, then perhaps we can see some fruits of success. We should start our players from 10 years old.

You always seemed so cool and relaxed when you were on the field. Where did this distinct playing style come from? K.T. Tan, Subang Jaya

This is something special for me. I think it came naturally. To be frank, before the game I was never cool. The tension was always very high. I would be thinking that I was going to lose the game and all sorts of nerve-racking thoughts. Once I warmed up and went into the field, it became second nature, and I become cool. That was just my style.

We Asians tend to be shorter and smaller. Technical skills aside, does physique and height play a large part in making a good footballer? Hibiscus Tee, Taiping

Not necessarily.

Of course, good physique counts a lot in football, but it is not everything as some of the best players in the world are not that big.

Look at Maradonna and Lionel Messi. Even Wayne Rooney is short. However, with height and good physique, there are differences. In terms of body contact and high balls, they have an advantage.

However, it does not mean that you cannot be a good footballer.

What really are the root causes of Malaysia’s dismal world ranking? Is it possible for Malaysia to play in the FIFA World Cup finals? AbangLong, Johor Baru

Nothing is impossible. We have to think of long-term planning. To depend on the current crop of players, well that will just be impossible. The current players are not very clever. What I mean is, their football knowledge is shallow.

They do have the technical skills, but football is not just about kicking and running. You must use your brains to play football.

Everything counts. Also, the physical conditions and size of our players, who are quite small. Most importantly, they must start from young. There are good coaches here and there.

Maybe as host will we be able to play in the World Cup. I think this is the easiest way.

Is it true that we lack political will to move forward and too much of political intervention had led to our downfall in the standard of the game? AbangLong, Johor Baru

Politics play an important role in Malaysian football, especially the business part. But what is most important is to learn the technical part from technical people.

Politics is good. It is important for getting funds and sponsorships. The problem is you have people who don’t know anything about football and they want to get involved and take charge. That is bad.

Leave it to the technical people to take care of the technical part. Everybody has do their respective part, then only can we improve.

Do you think Malaysian football is heading in the right direction after the SEA Games triumph in 2009? Kevin Yap

This is yet to be seen. We cannot judge just by winning one tournament. It is wrong. We have to prove ourselves more often, and be more consistent in our matches.

Congratulations for winning the SEA Games, but we are still far behind.

We are now nowhere when compared to Japan and South Korea. During your tenure as Malaysian captain, we beat these two teams! What has gone wrong? Adzhar Othman

I think the Japanese and Korean teams learn from their defeat whereas we are still not doing enough for Malaysian football.

We are stagnant, we don’t improve. The Koreans questioned why they lost to us. We are happy with what we are. We have to change the whole system.

Malaysian football was once a football force to be reckoned with, but now we’re heading nowhere. What do you think is the first thing we must do to address the situation? Ooi Beng Sun, Penang

I think we should start from now, then maybe we will be able to see some good football after 10 years.

Do you think the best man to lead FAM should be a footballer? Khairul Idris

I don’t think so, but one thing for sure is that you need people who know about football. Everybody does his part – people who can look for money, people who can coach.

We need a lot of ex-footballers to be involved, but in their respective fields.

Lately, there is “a sense of urgency” to uplift our football standard. For example, sending our under-23 squad to Slovakia for exposure. In my own observation, it is quite timely to hire a foreign coach to train our young team. Previously FAM had hired a few high-profile coaches but showed no results. What do you think, Datuk? Arshad Tan, Puchong

I always believe that unless we have the material, we do not need a foreign coach.

We must have the good players first before getting the coach to form a good team. It takes time. Why do you want to waste money? In anything, we must do it right. We must train our own boys first. We must supervise them.

The training given to the players has to be right. Some people think they are doing the right thing, but they are doing it wrong. There are pros and cons to this issue.

I think we need to better train our boys.

COMING SOON DR CHANDRA MUZAFFAR, one of the country’s prominent social activists, has authored and edited over 20 books in English and Malay. He founded Aliran, a social reform group in 1977 and sits on various boards of international NGOs. He is president of the International Movement for a Just World. Do you have a burning question for him? Email to 10questions@thestar.com.my

COMING SOON

DR CHANDRA MUZAFFAR, one of the country’s prominent social activists, has authored and edited over 20 books in English and Malay. He founded Aliran, a social reform group in 1977 and sits on various boards of international NGOs. He is president of the International Movement for a Just World. Do you have a burning question for him? Email to 10questions@thestar.com.my

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