Safiq Rahim Speaks English

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?

Interview with JDT for FourFourTwo
Briefing Yol and Kuna

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!

About Time PFAM Gets Active Again

Malaysian football can never get away with player transfer controversies every time the transfer window opens. State teams and clubs can have a new president, new management or a new coach but they still failed to follow the rules when it comes to player transfers.

Normally a transfer conflict happen when it involves Harimau Muda players. By rules, Harimau Muda players must return to their hometown, play for their state team after they graduated from Harimau Muda. They can opt to play for other teams if their home teams are not interested in signing them. More often than not, they would want the players to join them because these players have international experience during their time with the Malaysia U23 team, which will be valuable for the team.

However, the players will of course receive offers from other teams besides their home team which they’re supposed to go back to. That’s when the problem arise. For instance, the one player who has been causing a stir recently is, Gary Steven Robbat. He has decided to leave Harimau Muda this year and will play in the Malaysia Super League next year. The question is, which team? Kedah (his home team), Pahang and Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) have all claimed that Gary will play for them.

On 14th November, Gary and his Harimau Muda teammate, Saarvindran signed a contract with Pahang. The photo of them with the contracts which was released by Pahang later on, was taken on that day itself. Around the week when Pahang announced their team for 2015 was also when the rumours of Gary joining JDT surfaced. Confusions everywhere.

Gary said he has informed Pahang that he has changed his mind and would play for JDT instead but according to him, Pahang went on to announce the squad anyway. And now Gary will leave the matter to JDT and Pahang. This could be a problem for Gary because he could be punished with a suspension and that’s the last thing any player would want to happen. According to Datuk Ong Kim Swee, the Malaysia U23 coach, it would be a loss for Malaysia if Gary gets suspended as he is still eligible to play in the SEA Games 2015 in Singapore.

Gary is not the only player who’s facing the same contract confusion with Pahang and JDT. Pahang player, Faizol Hussain too is registered with Pahang and Johor Darul Ta’zim II for next year. According to Pahang, Faizol will still play for them next year since he still have a year contract with Pahang. However, he has already emptied his house in Pahang….

Another Harimau Muda player from Perak, decided to leave Harimau Muda too but unfortunately he has not been released by his current employer, the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM). That’s not the main problem here. The mistake he has made is that he has signed for Felda United despite not getting a release from FAM and approval from Perak. Worse, the player has even joined Felda United for their pre-season in Dubai.

Messy is probably too nice to describe the Malaysian football transfer system. It’s completely shambolic. But who do we blame? The players? The teams? FAM?

What if the players were never properly briefed or informed about their contract terms and how the transfers work? What if FAM are not strict enough with their own rules? What if certain teams get certain privileges?

This is where Professional Footballers Association of Malaysia (PFAM) comes into the picture. After years of hiatus, they are now back to assist players in Malaysia with their contracts with their respective teams. They vow to fight for the players and protect them from any mistreatment from their clubs in terms of contractual rights. The players are not well informed on their rights as players and that led them to be taken advantage of by their employers. Every year we will hear about players not being paid their salary on time, which is ridiculous. PFAM should play an important role in the players’ career, not only they should fight for them but most importantly, educate them thoroughly.

Until then, it is fair to question the professionalism of Malaysian football.


Generasi Yang Hilang by PFAM

If you don’t know about PFAM yet, get to know them. I’ve always thought Malaysian players need them and I think and I hope they will help improve our football in any way they can.

Their CEO, Izham Ismail has recently wrote an article called ‘Generasi Yang Hilang’ on their website. It’s a good read:

Minggu lepas saya menerima kunjungan bekas penyerang Harimau Muda, saudara Izzaq Faris di pejabat PFAM. Orangnya tinggi, berbadan sasa dan mempunyai pesona tersendiri. Selama satu jam kami berbual, mengenang gol kemenangan yang dijaringkan beliau ketika Sukan Sea 2011 yang melayakkan kita ke final, bercerita tentang pengalaman beliau bersama skuad juara AFF Suzuki 2010, bertanyakan khabar kecederaan yang beliau alami dan impiannya dalam dunia bola sepak. Ternyata beliau seorang yang amat baik budi pekertinya dan kuat jati diri. Malah, masih kuat kedengaran loghat Terengganunya di sepanjang perbualan kami itu.

Pada saya, Izzaq adalah merupakan sebahagian dari permata muda kepada bola sepak negara kita. Hakikatnya, kita mempunyai ramai pemain muda berbakat daripada skuad Harimau Muda yang rata-ratanya adalah seangkatan Izzaq. Wan Zack Haikal, Rozaimi Rahman, Hazwan Bakri, Irfan Fazail, Nazmi Faiz, Syahrul Azwari, Thamil Arasu, Shakir Ali adalah antara nama-nama yang pernah mencetuskan fenomena dalam kalangan peminat bola sepak negara. Melihat kepada aksi mereka tatkala mewakili Harimau Muda, ia memberikan kita kepuasan dan lebih penting – harapan untuk kembali meletakkan bola sepak kita di landasan yang tertinggi. Kehadiran mereka telah meyakinkan kepada kita – pencinta bola sepak Malaysia – bahawa kita tidak pernah ketandusan bakat yang berkualiti.

Namun, itu semua adalah singkapan memori emas di zaman kegemilangan mereka di Harimau Muda. Entah di mana silapnya, sinaran emas tersebut tidak berterusan memancar ketika mereka sudah menjadi ‘graduan’ Harimau Muda…..Read More