Ong’s passion for the beautiful game earns him glory at SEA Games

PETALING JAYA: As a player and a coach, Ong Kim Swee has had a sterling career in Malaysian football since he first made his debut as a midfielder for Malacca in 1989.

Crowning his two decades in the country's mainstream football scene was winning the gold medal at the just-concluded SEA Games for the Harimau Muda team that he had nurtured since 2009.

He had warned the youngsters about the intimidation they were likely to face from the Indonesian fans and that they should be mentally prepared for the worst,

“If you had been aboard the bus with us and experienced the intimidation, you wouldn't have played,” he told the media when they arrived home to a hero's welcome at the LCCT on Tuesday.

The team, however, was only able to rest for half a day as they had to train to face Syria at an Olympics qualifying round yesterday.

“If I had my way, I would want the team to have more rest,” said Ong, who was a member of Malaysia's Barcelona 1992 Olympic team under the legendary Chow Kwai Lam.

Ong, 41, lives with wife Alodle Donna Derick and two children in Kuala Lumpur.

Former PKNS coach Abdul Rahman Ibrahim remembers him attending coaching courses and matches in Spain and Czechosovakia to learn footballing strategies.

“He has done well,” he said, commending him for leading the young tigers to their back-to-back victory in the SEA Games.

Ong, who has also played for Sarawak and Sabah, retired as a player due to knee injuries in 1998 and became Malacca's head coach in 2002 and 2003.

The following year, he trained players for the Football Association of Malaysia, which led him to coaching the national teams over the rest of the decade.

In 2009, Ong replaced Datuk K. Rajagopal as Harimau Muda head coach and won the Malaysia Premier League that year.

In person, though Ong appears authoritative, he is said to be sensitive to his team's concerns.

Dollah explained: “He always listens to the consensus of his team, managers and advisers before he arrives at a decision. That's good management. It gives them room to improve as one cohesive unit.”

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