Earlier this month we took a trip to Johor to interview four Johor Darul Ta’zim players – Safiq Rahim, Aidil Zafuan, S.Kunanlan and Amirulhadi. Since we are an English football website, it it preferable if we could interview the players in English. Especially when my Australian Managing Editor will be interviewing them – Safiq and Aidil. But in my experience, Malaysian players are normally more comfortable to speak in Bahasa Malaysia (BM) so we gave them the option – to answer in BM if they want to. We can always insert subtitles anyway.
We didn’t expect them to be fluent. As long as it’s understandable, it’s good enough for us. It’s their answers that matter not the language they speak.
I didn’t interview Safiq, my Editor did. I spoke to Kunanlan and Amirulhadi instead. To my surprise, well not completely, Safiq chose to speak in English. This is great improvement! Four years ago when he was a guest on Astro SuperSport’s Football Overload, he’d only speak in BM. He has surely matured since then and his confidence has improved too.
He knew his English is not perfect and he knew the video is going on the internet, but he would still try. Try is good. Maybe you think what’s the big deal? It is kind of a big deal because trust me it is not easy to find a Malaysian player, Malay player especially, who would speak English for a TV interview.
As expected there were some people who made fun of his English and some said it was a good effort. But what’s weird is that someone commented about his Malay accent. Is he supposed to sound American or British when he’s a Malay?
I have realised that Malaysian players need media training since I first started working. It is one of the departments that needs improvement. The players represent the club and it is the clubs’ responsibility to make sure their players are properly informed on why it’s important they behave or do not behave a certain way in public or say or don’t say that in interviews. It sounds like a lot of work but it needs to be done. Most clubs disregard the need of it. So they first must realise that it’s important and realise that it will help them in a long term.
Anyway, only Safiq and Kunanlan spoke in English in this interview. Aidil and Amirulhadi did in BM instead. The videos will be released soon. Stay tuned to find out what are the games that changed their lives, what they thought about their teammates and more!
p/s: If we came a day after the interview, we would have filmed Safiq with his blond hair!