PETALING JAYA: When it comes to having an intrinsic knowledge of administrative acumen, no one can beat Datuk K. Rasalingam.
Datuk Rasa, as he was fondly known, and one of the founding members of the Kuala Lumpur Football Association (KLFA), passed away on March 26 at the age of 79.
Many fans of the City boys will remember the likes of Datuk Goh Ah Chai, Hamzah Muhamad, MJ Vincent, Shariff Mustafa, Jeswant Singh and T. Manickarajah and Rasalingam who were responsible for the birth of the Federal Territory Football Association in 1974.
FT, as they were known then, made their debut in the Malaysian football league in 1979. They renamed themselves as KLFA in 1986.
Rasalingam, an ardent football lover, was a former council member of the Football Association of Selangor (FAS) from 1970-1972 and was their secretary from 1973-1974. He also served as council member in the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) from 1978-2000.
But his greatest success was with Kuala Lumpur, who became Malaysia’s football powerhouse under the leadership of Tan Sri Elyas Omar from 1985-1996.
The team went on to become Malaysian League champions twice in 1986 and 1988, Malaysia Cup champions for three consecutive years (1987-1989), Charity Shield three times (1988,1995 and 2000) and FA Cup thrice (1993,1994 and 1999).
KLFA’s current secretary-general Nokman Mustaffa said Rasalingam was one of the best teachers he ever had in the world of football administration.
“Datuk Rasa was the secretary-general when I was one of the KLFA youth team’s managers. His dedication and attention to detail is certainly something else... and it was a great honour to learn from him, ” said Nokman.
“He was one of our founders and went on to form a great combination with Tan Sri Elyas as they revolutionised the KL team, who had a metropolitan outlook and we were among the first teams in the M-League to sign import players like Singapore’s Fandi Ahmad.”
“It’s sad to hear about his passing away and I wish his family well... we will work to bring KL back to the glory days under Rasalingam.”
Meanwhile, former KL skipper Razip Ismail said Rasalingam’s management style is something to behold.
“I didn’t have much contact with Datuk Rasalingam as he doesn’t meddle in training and playing but one thing I noticed is that he never follows the team for away matches, ” said the 57-year-old former international.
“I always notice most teams will have exco members following their team for away matches but it was different in KL. Only those involved with the team will travel and it was very professional to me.
“I don’t know if it was his management style but it did leave an impression with me and earned the players’ respect. I hope we can have more football administrators like him.”
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