IF you walked around Ipoh in the ’90s, you would have seen people wearing the famous Puma-designed Perak jersey.
Kids playing football would mimic the likes of V. Saravanan, Khalid Jamlus, Ahmad Shahrul Azhar and Azrul Amri Burhan.
Every weekend, fans would throng Ipoh Stadium. It was one of the best experiences for me as a kid. The players were heroes to us and at the time, Karl Heinz Weigang was king!
Fast forward to 2015 though and things are very different.
The reason this week’s column is on my state football team, is due to Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir’s recent statements on the side.
“If players have to be fired, so be it. There’s not much point in keeping players who think they are more important than the team.
“If we have to sacrifice the management and coaches, I will do so. I’m not tolerating any more of this,” said Dr Zambry.
To be honest, I’ve heard this before.
The management comes up with a plan but never sticks to it. If the team fails to perform, they blame the players and coach.
Since 2010, the team has gone through so many managerial changes and players have come and gone. There is no stability at all.
Once we were a team to be feared …
There is no point saying that Perak have not been relegated for years. More important is that since the Malaysian Super League started in 2004, Perak have not won it.
In the last six years, we have had nine head coaches and every time the team falters, the coach is axed or gets “rested”.
To me, politicians leading a football association is a recipe for disaster. The irony is, they often call for stability in their parties but when it comes to football, there is no support for the coaches and players.
These last few weeks, Perak has been riddled with injuries to players and various other issues. So it is terribly unfair if players and a coach are going to judged on a four game slump.
Earlier this season, when the team did well and beat sides like Selangor and Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT), the coach and players were praised for a doing such a great job.
Yes, Perak have had a dismal last five weeks and dropped from 3rd in the table to 8th but the decision to rest Datuk M. Karathu, one of the most respected Malaysian coaches, was not right.
The management should take a look at how things were handled at Borussia Dortmund, for example.
At one point last season, Dortmund, champions just the year before, were close to relegation. But the club’s management stood by Jurgen Klopp and his players. Klopp has, of course, since left the club, but the management never went crazy and decide to sell most of their players in the transfer window.
The Perak management needs to come up with a long-term plan if they want the team to be force to be in Malaysian football again. Instead of relying on the state government, the association should set up a team of professionals that is able to get corporate sponsors and manage a football side.
Instead of being jealous of JDT, learn from them. They are able to get the funding because of their professional set-up.
The current squad is capable of doing well with the right guidance. Youngsters like Idris Ahmad, Hafiz Ramdan, Norhakim Isa, Muhd Nuridzuan and Nasir Basharuddin are players who are capable of making a difference.
I want kids in Perak to sing their names. I want to see the stadium full again. I want the team to have its own training centre and academy.
I want to see my state do better than the other states. Perhaps that’s selfish. But having supported the team for 18 years, I only want to see the best. And I admit, I am jealous when I see the likes of JDT and Pahang do well in the league.
Stability is key and the foundation of the state football association is pretty shaky. Things have to change … We need to get going and live up to the slogan of “Kejor Yeob Kejor”!
> The views expressed are entirely the writer’s own.