NEW FA of Malaysia (FAM) president, Tunku Ismail Ibrahim, the Tengku Mahkota of Johor (TMJ), wasted no time making decisions that might have ruffled feathers, especially of those vanquished in the elections.
Tunku Ismail’s decisions — the replacement of national team coach Datuk Ong Kim Swee by former Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) coach Mario Gomez; Kim Swee’s demotion to the Under-22 squad; and the removal of Frank Bernhardt — made before any council or team management meeting, caused a shock to some quarters.
But a majority, especially those who were elected to a new term of office, had no qualms because it was what they had bargained for.
When he was approached to head FAM by several affiliates, Tunku Ismail had said he would manage the body as he deemed fit.
In fairness to Tunku Ismail, he had met the new council briefly after the elections before he announced a slew of decisions to the media.
Eighty per cent of the delegates at last Saturday’s election comprised of young and new faces who had given the mandate for sweeping change, underscored the reality that change was what they wanted.
As one senior official observed: “For far too long FAM have been managed by consensus and sometimes good proposals have been thrown out by previous presidents because state FAs opposed for reasons best known to them.
“This has affected the development of football and brought us to our current situation.
“It’s about time we tried something new and with Tunku Ismail being young and having proven himself with his stewardship of JDT, we need to give him full support.
“It may look dictatorial, but what has common consensus with agendas attached, brought us to? Let us allow Tunku Ismail to work his way. What have we to lose?”
It’s important Tunku Ismail gets full backing and not back-biting from the state FAs.
Anyway, Tunku Ismail is a man who won’t tolerate nonsense. The non-compliant will probably have no place in his leadership team.
But still the state FAs play a big role in determining whether changes in football’s governance will succeed or fail.
States FAs will be expecting the new regime to put many things right for them, especially in terms of funding from broadcasting rights.
If they get the allocations they are seeking, they will have to spend wisely.
Tunku Ismail is passionate about development and wants the National Football Development Programme (NFDP) to come directly under the jurisdiction of FAM which includes funding (presently under the Sports Ministry) and rightly so.
He believes grassroots development, which is non-existent among a majority of state FAs and clubs, must be priority.
Indeed, exciting times are on course for Malaysian football, but state FAs must not buck the national interest.
Tunku Ismail has to change the mentality that allows state interest to take precedence over national interest.
Tunku Ismail must be careful not to be over reliant on foreign expertise. Even if he does, he must make sure the foreigners are the best and have locals as understudies.
The council must be prepared for an earful when they meet for the first time under TMJ in Kota Kinabalu next week.
Tunku Ismail is expected to outline his style of management. More sweeping changes are expected.
However, judging from the positive feedback, there seems to be hope for change. However, only time will tell.
Quality long term programmes, patience, hard work, dedication and concerted effort are the pre-conditions for light at the end of a long dark tunnel.
TONY is a sports journalist with close to four decades’ experience and is passionate about local sports.
He can be reached at