FORMER international Wong Choon Wah’s contribution to Malaysian football will be remembered.
A group of his friends are organising a football tournament as a tribute to Choon Wah, who passed away last year, at Club Aman on Saturday.
The event is initiated by Wen Parker, a United States-based social football club and Kuala Lumpur’s International Football Club (IFC).
IFC adviser Ho Hon Seong, a former international and close friend of Choon Wah, said six veteran teams have been invited for the tourney.
“Wen Parker organised an annual tournament in New York and invited a Malaysian veteran team. Choon Wah has many friends playing for Wen Parker. Choon Wah was supposed to go to New York for the annual tournament, organised by Wen Parker, but unfortunately he passed away before that.
“They are all coming to Kuala Lumpur for this tournament in memory of Choon Wah,’’ said Hon Seong.
Wen Parker comprises of Malaysian Chinese who had gone to the US to seek their fortunes. Many of them started as restaurant assistants and had worked their way to become successful businessmen. Wen Parker founder Alex New is supporting the tournament.
Choon Wah was the first Malaysian player to venture into professional football in Hong Kong with South China Athletics Association from 1972 to 1974 before the likes of Lim Fung Kee, Chow Chee Keong and Yip Chee Keong followed suit.
He was among the footballers who played in the Olympics – in Munich 1972 – the only time Malaysia played in the Games (Malaysia boycotted the 1980 Moscow Olympics). He played in all three matches – against West Germany (the tournament’s opening match) the USA and Morocco in group stage.
His teammates included Wong Kam Fook, Fung Kee, Othman Abdullah, Namat Abdullah, Chandran, Khoo Huan Khen, Hamzah Hussain, Sharuddin Abdullah, Wan Zawawi, V. Krishnasamy, Ibrahim Salleh, Harun Jusoh, Ali Bakar, Mohamad Bakar, Loon Teik, Rahim Abdullah and Bahwandi Hiraral.
Choon Wah, who would have turned 67 on March 31 last year, made his Malaysia Cup debut in 1968, playing for Selangor. The state never lost a Malaysia Cup final when Choon Wah was in the team, winning in 1968, 1969, 1971, 1975 and 1976. He also turned out for MCIS in the local league and FAM Cup.
Known for his precision, defence-splitting passes and total control of the engine room, Malaysia has not seen another player of his calibre since.
Hon Seong said several former internationals would either play or attend the tournament to honour Choon Wah.
Among the former internationals expected to make their presence include Datuk Soh Chin Aun, Datuk Santokh Singh, Datuk M. Chandran, Datuk Chen Wooi Haw, Chow Kwai Lam, N. Thanbalan, Vincent Thambirajah, Loi Loon Teck, Yap Kam Choon, Khan Hung Meng, Chow Siew yai, Koo Luem Khen (who resides in Hong Kong now), Yip Chee Keong, Chan Chung Yoong and Chow Chee Keong.
Guinness Anchor Berhad (GAB) have agreed to host a welcome reception while the official dinner will be sponsored by Wen Parker.
Hon Seong said they had invited Choon Wah’s family members to the dinner.
”There will be no winners as the tournament is to honour and remember Choon Wah. All the players involved in the tournament will get a commemorative medal as remembrance of the memorial tournament,’’ added Hon Seong.