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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Musa - Govt determined to boost Sabah football

By IZHAM B. HASHIM & MARRYAN RAZAN
New Sabah Times

 KOTA KINABALU: The state government is determined to improve the performance of the state football team, said Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Haji Aman. Musa who is also the Sabah Football Association (SAFA) president said he had met with the players and told them to give their level best. “Football is the most popular sport not only in Sabah but throughout the world. And, understandably, many fans are unhappy with the dismal performance of the state team.

 “However, allegations over the lack of spending for football is incorrect when SAFA spends millions for the state football team,” he said, noting that the state government even aided SAFA to write off the large amount of debt accumulated over the years. Responding to questions posed by Kuala Penyu Assemblyman Limus Jury at the State Legislative Assembly sitting here yesterday,

 Musa assured the state leadership is committed to football development and will bolster efforts to bring the state team to greater heights. The Chief Minister stressed many football fans were unaware of the high cost of managing the state football team which involved millions of ringgit. SAFA, he said spent between RM7 million and RM8 million every year on player transfers and their salaries, among others.

 “Undoubtedly, football is an extremely popular game but also very expensive by which salaries for one player can amount to between RM20,000 and RM30,000 per month. We can engage good players but what happens if they suddenly decide to change clubs? As a result, they don’t play for the whole six months and the season is wasted,” he pointed out.

 Underlining the importance for closer cooperation to develop the sport, Musa reiterated the state government’s support through the Youth and Sports Ministry to bolster talent identification programmes by holding more football tournaments at various levels to unearth young local talents to be developed further.

 “I would also like to urge families with children talented in football to consider letting them pursue a football career which is a very lucrative profession with players earning between RM20,000-RM100,000 per month,” he said. The Chief Minister also said everyone, including members of the opposition, could contribute ideas to beef up the state football team. “We do not have any problem in accepting feedback, views or recommendations from anyone, including the opposition because our goal is the same, to see Sabah’s football standard improve,” he said.

 Meanwhile, Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Tawfiq Abu Bakar Titingan said the ministry through SAFA had initiated various programmes to unearth talented footballers in the state. He said the development of coaches had also been intensified through coaching courses conducted at district level and to date, all 26 SAFA districts have a team of coaches with the ability to coach players at their respective areas. He also said the ministry aimed to regain Sabah’s past football glory by adopting an integrated strategy combining short-term, medium-term and long-term plans aimed at grassroots development of the next generation of footballing talent.

 According to Tawfiq, increasing the number of football championships and tournaments is integral to create a more competitive environment to encourage greater participation and widen interest in football and urged state representatives to join the ministry’s efforts in football development by organising more leagues and tournaments in their respective districts. “Under the ministry’s long-term plan, we are working closely with the federal youth and sports ministry to prepare infrastructure plans equipped with sports facilities, which includes upgrading 36 football fields between 2013-2015 and providing sufficient infrastructure and facilities for 13 sports complexes throughout the state,” he said. In reply to questions by Tamparuli Assemblyman Datuk Seri Wilfred Bumburing on progress of the Tamparuli Sports Complex,

 Tawfiq said the ministry has identified a new site for the project in Kampung Laya-Laya as the previous site was deemed unsuitable for development as it is located at a low lying area and prone to flooding according to a soil survey study. “The first location is situated at a low lying area and therefore prone to flooding which would cost further problems to the structure and increase cost of maintenance,” he said, adding that the ministry has managed to acquire the 100-acre site from the federal government for the sports complex.

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