Football in full bloom?

Youth and Sports minister Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican (bottom row, third from left) at Wisma FAM, together with FAM president Datuk Hamidin Mohd Amin (fourth from left).

PETALING JAYA: Full contact training for football clubs from July 15? Social football to resume as it was pre-Covid 19?

These are the questions that will be answered today – which is D-day for Malaysian football.

The National Security Council, which comprises all the high-level ministers, will meet today to decide on the fate of the country’s football, which until now has been limited to non-contact training.

The signs do look encouraging after Sports Minister Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican said he was pleased to see teams adhering to the first phase standard operating procedures (SOP) well.

According to Reezal, based on reports given by the state and district branches of his ministry, all teams have shown great commitment in abiding by the SOPs.

He was confident the chances of a second phase or full training looked brighter, but everything would still depend on the meeting today.

“So far, everything looks good. I feel we have reached a level where teams are bored, and mentally, they are challenged to continue non-contract training. They want more than that,” said Reezal.

“Players want to be at their optimum level, and because of that, I would like to state that on Thursday (today), I will bring these concerns to the Cabinet meeting on movement control order (MCO) measures. I hope full contact training can resume.

“The issue is also about matches involving the public being allowed, with certain SOPs. This would open up the opportunity for tournaments to resume without any spectators soon. We all know football is the most-watched sport in the country.”

Football Association of Malaysia secretary-general Stuart Ramalingam said they had requested and hoped that contact training can start as early as next week, and that the M-League could restart as early as August.

“The NSC have said their intention is not to stop football, but they want to control the spike as they lift some restrictions. They were monitoring things and released restrictions in stages.

“We’re hoping signs of recovery now favour us. In all of my meetings and correspondence, my intention was to back the entire football community, not just those in the elite level.”

If full contact is allowed this month, and football competitions are allowed to resume in August, other sports will also undoubtedly see the light at the end of the tunnel.

With most sports allowed training with SOPs now, the next step is the resumption of competitions which many are looking forward to.

Reezal also urged some quarters to be patient when it comes to allowing spectators back to the stadiums because the matter needs time to be assessed in stages.

“Let us take things one step at a time. If you look at other leagues such as the English Premier League and Germany’s Bundesliga, matches are being held behind closed doors.”

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