by Simon Ingka Crown.
Posted on August 6, 2010, Friday
KUCHING: The three Ps — profitability, profes-sionalism and passion — are key to uplift the standard of football in Sarawak.
Without these pillars, the game in the state will not improve much.
Ending another season on a low note, the Crocs have been getting a lot of flak for lacking dedication, team spirit and technical competence in their Premier League campaign.
But the finger should not be pointed solely at the team as the whole system is equally to blame, if not more.
Absence of the three Ps is at the heart of the problem. So not surprisingly, the consensus is that playing football has no future in the state — and the country, for that matter.
Financially, players have nothing to fall back on after hanging up their boots. This is fact, not idle talk.
Businessman and ardent Crocs fan, Winston Jemari Siga, sees a need to change the football development strategy.
Fans yearn for the return of the glory days of Sarawak football but he believes this could only happen if the future of players were looked after in terms of both education and jobs.
He suggested sports excellence be considered when awarding scholarships for higher education while state players be assured of a secure future after retiring.
He stressed this was important because student players needed to know their talents counted for something when applying for further studies while it was only natural for state players to be concerned about security since most would still be quite young (usually in their 30’s) when they retired with years of working life ahead of them.
The question they will want to ask is what after football?
Jemari said the state government and the Football Association of Sarawak (FAS) could provide what he called “strong institutional roots” to help players flourish based on the survival-of-the-fittest concept and a market-driven approach.
“By strong institutional roots, I mean comprehensive football development programmes throughout the state, an active and progressive local league and a very strict ruling body to oversee football matters such as refereeing, discipline and technical consultancies.”
From all these, he added, it would be possible to pick the best state team for the national league.
Moreover, if football development were done professionally, market-driven support and sponsorship would emerge.
Jemari said development of new blood, supported by “institutional roots” such as football academies and a competent FA, would ensure a continuous flow of talents and only then would the senior team’s foray in the Premier League or even the Super League serve its purpose.
Such a vision, he admitted, would not mean much if the voice of the footballers were not heeded.
“I’m sure the players have some honest feedback to offer because after all, their livelihood depends on the success of football in the state,” he noted.
On professionalism, he said there was a need for players to have a business-like attitude on the field, regardless of which the clubs or states they represented.
He stressed the players had to be professional in all aspects of the game – listening to the coach, turning up for training punctually and without fail and, most importantly, play like pros.
For another fan, Robert Mercury, it is important to “respect the state flag and emblem.”
According to him, some non-Sarawakian players should not be emulated, saying: “While pay is important, there must also be love for the state.”
He noted the fighting spirit shown by the Ngap Sayot outfit and the squad under Alan Vest was less seen in the present state team.
“If Sarawakians do not have the spirit to fight for their team, what to say of non-Sarawakians. We must take the lead and not depend on others to help us back to the top.”
He said passion for the game should complement the other prerequisites.
“The three Ps are important. Without them, there probably wouldn’t be pros like Lionel Messi, Fernando Torres, Kaka, Wayne Rooney and Didier Drogba.”
For the Crocs and the system, the philosophy of coaching and management must be geared towards one common end – reinventing the Sarawak team — and making it better.
The question is not who is in charge but using the right strategy to bring Sarawak football out of the doldrums.
But does the present system allow this? The results speak for themselves.