JOHOR BARU: The Malaysian Snooker and Billiards Federation (MSBF) have defended their decision not to consider the veteran players for international assignments anymore because “they have lost their hunger and urge to win”.
Four veterans had alleged in a press conference on Monday that the MSBF were unfair in not giving them the chance to prove their worth in international championships, including the SEA Games and the Asian Games.
The four were Malaysia's best known snooker player Sam Chong, 43, Yong Kien Foot, 34, Wong Ann Seng, 44, and Chew Lean Teng, 35.
In a reply yesterday, an upset MSBF president W.Y. Chin (pic) said: “They (the seniors) could not deliver at the KL SEA Games (2001) and the Busan Asian Games (2002).
“I watched them play in KL and Busan and they simply did not have the hunger and urge to win ... the determination and fighting spirit were missing. So what choice have we got? We have to start exposing the young talent.”
He added that Malaysia were no longer a snooker powerhouse in Asia and needed to groom young talent with the target to do well in the 2006 Asiad in Qatar.
“We used to be ranked number two in Asia but now we are sixth or seventh. We cannot just sit back and watch our present standard. We have to sacrifice one or two years and take steps to expose the youngsters,” said Chin.
He added that they had plans to send the youngsters to tournaments in China and India but had to call off the trips because of concerns over SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome).
Chin said that he felt “entirely betrayed” by the outburst of the four.
“I must admit that age is not a problem in snooker. Mohd Yusof of Pakistan won the world title at the age of 42 while an Australian won the same title at the age of 31,” he said.
“But our seniors have lost their determination and fighting spirit to win. They are quite contented with what they have now.”
Chin reminded the four not to take blind shots at the MSBF.
He pointed to Kien Foot, saying that when the player was stricken with cancer, the MSBF and the National Sports Council (NSC) forked out between RM60,000 and RM70,000 for his treatment.
“Now he is one of those who is hitting back at us. This hurts me very much.”
He also said that he had approached Sam to take up a coaching job.
“The first thing he asked was how much we could pay him? This upset me because a player whom we have helped so much should consider contributing something in return.”
Chin added that the four had called him up to apologise over their outburst.
“I can only tell them to be careful with what they say if they have any grouses,” he said.
Meanwhile, Sam said that he and the others were “misled and misinformed” about the whole matter.
“We are sorry. We made a mistake. I must admit that none of the MSBF officials informed us about their policies on the seniors or juniors,” said Sam.
The press conference on Monday was organised by the Gerakan Local Authority and Government bureau chief, Tong Kim Chuang.