Malaysia needs to learn how to put the right football club structures in place to attract funding, says football commentator Serbegeth Singh.
"What we have right now are just registered clubs. But our state football associations need a club structure and to have a youth development department to progress," he said at a press conference to announce an upcoming football business forum.
The International Football Association will be hosting IFA Asia 2009 from November 22 to 24 at Shangri-La Hotel, Kuala Lumpur.
Better known as Shebby, Serbegeth who will be a guest moderator of IFA Kuala Lumpur 2009, said the country could benefit from this forum as prominent football personalities could share their technical know-how with local footballers.
Among the speakers attending this event include Chelsea FC board member Peter Kenyon, AFC president Mohammad Hammam, Football Federation Australia chairman Frank Lowy and FC Barcelona senior youth coordinator Albert Capellas.
"Albert, who will be speaking on turning talents into stars, can share his technical expertise, because that is what we lack in this region," said Shebby.
He added that clubs in Southeast Asia could use the forum to learn how to market their leagues or clubs, as done in Europe.
Meanwhile, guest moderator Wan Zaleha Radzi added that Malaysia could learn how to develop sustainable relationships with corporates to build the local talent pool.
"Currently, sponsorship and funding comes in easily for sportsmen who are already successful. We need funding to nurture rising talents," she said.
The event will be the third IFA Asia forum, with the previous two held in Beijing, China.
In cooperation with the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and sponsored by Chelsea Football Club, some 200 to 250 delegates will attend the forum to exchange ideas and opinions on the global football business.
The attendees will also include representative from European clubs such as AC Milan, Inter Milan, Real Madrid, Manchester United, and Hamburger SV.
IFA founder and chairman Marcel Schmid said the event that draws football professionals, marketing pros, senior executives, media pundits and top traders allows for new ties and reinforces existing relationships.
Schmid said Malaysia was chosen not only because AFC's headquarters was based here but also due to the country's multicultural setting that would draw participation from other Asian nations.
Topics to be presented during the conference include professionalising Asian club football, trends and opportunities for investments in football clubs, how sponsorship rights fit a company's communication strategy, and will the FIFA World Cup 2018 or 2022 go to Asia.
Lim Teong Kim was a member of the national team who won the gold medal in the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games in 1989. That was the last time the national senior team emerged as the champions of the regional international tournament. He is currently the assistant coach of Bayern Munich's U-19 team.
“When football is still the same (in Malaysia) after so many years, how can we expect to see any changes to the game or standard? Why criticise the present batch of players and keep banging them on their heads for failures when no one cares for the development of the game,” he said.
“Football is a national agenda. I feel that every state should have an ideal infrastructure to develop the game.
“I have been in Bayern Munich for eight years now. Even the eight-year-old players travel extensively to play in invitational tournaments to gain experience. There are eight professional coaches at the youth level and players get plenty of exposure.
“The facilities are well-equipped with dressing rooms, rehabilitation rooms, physiotherapy, sauna and relaxation rooms.
“In Germany, we have technical problems but no infrastructure problems. If there are no fields how can the coaches get to work?
“The National Sports School in Bukit Jalil alone is not good enough. State FAs must get their infrastructure in place otherwise they cannot expect to produce results.
“I am just trying to pass my experience and knowledge learnt in Bayern Munich. It is difficult to see success if changes are not made. There is a saying in Germany – changes bring prosperity, contentment brings complacency.”
As we speak, Malaysia are fighting to make the semifinals of the South East Asia (SEA) Games in Myanmar. The Malaysian boys will have to beat defending champions Thailand on 11th December 2009 for that semifinal berth. A tall order indeed, especially as Malaysia have to make do without suspended striker, Mohd Zaquan Adha Abdul Razak and defy the fact that Thailand have never failed to qualify for the semi-finals in SEA Games men’s football for 18 consecutive editions since 1973.