Monday, February 23, 2009

A Malaysian Football Academy idea that never was

I read Sakmongkol's latest post on the theft of an idea with a huge dose of wistfulness. My friends and I have had similar experiences. You find someone who knows someone who knows someone else who knows a politician in government who can sanction an idea that you have. And then, you are asked to provide the working papers and studies that you've spent your own time and considerable resources to prepare.

Then, there's a long silence. All follow up calls and meetings are met with various responses that the papers have been delivered. Just wait. Next meeting. Will catch the politician at some kenduri, some visit to some kawasan and, so on.

And, then, the shock of reading a major announcement about your idea but with a different set of people.

I'm posting something non-commercial that my friends and I proposed some four years ago, for the betterment of a sport that I have loved forever; football. I was so fed-up by the whole nonsense that I have never bothered to find out if it had been copied by people with better technical know-who. All I know is that the state of Malaysian football remains moribund.

Here is part of the proposal. It remains my copyright (for all that it's worth). Football fans should read it because, if nothing, it improves your appreciation of a wonderful sport:

_________________________
OVERVIEW OF PROPOSAL

The concept of the Malaysian Football Academy ("MFA") is to provide an additional avenue for the development of football playing and coaching talent in Malaysia. By so doing, MFA’s goal is to create a sizeable pool of players for the national team, state teams and football clubs throughout Malaysia. The focus will be youth football skills development.

We have seen Japan and Korea develop football talents from the 1980s to become semi-finalists in the FIFA World Championships in 2002. MFA hopes to be able to participate in bringing positive changes to the Malaysian football scene by giving technical and skills training to playing and coaching talent in Malaysia’s most popular sport.

Financial Highlights

Estimated annual allocation

by Sports Development Fund : RM20 million

Outline of the function of the MFA Technical Director and Structure of Coaching

Its is proposed that the Technical Director of the Malaysian Football Academy [MFA] have at least 15 national staff coaches directly under him. Former national and professional players with Physical Education degrees would be preferred. This support group works with the Technical Director in selecting and preparing candidates for training at the MFA. Below this core group will be accredited MFA coaches throughout the country working directly under these staff coaches at various levels.

It is planned hat twice a year these coaches come together at the MFA National Training Center, to ensure they are all working on the same page and are all following the technical guidelines set down by the MFA. Together they will plan the technical outline for each following year, implementing a new plan every four years for all the professional level clubs.

During this time four levels are stressed:

  1. The Coaching Schools – This is the key to football development in Malaysia. Every player that will go through the Malaysian system must be coached by educators certified by MFA coaching schools. This ensures continuity in technical and tactical development. In order to obtain a professional license and therefore become a professional coach, an individual must coach or study in a foreign country with a club and write a research paper.

  1. The National Youth Identification Program – Here guidelines are developed for the scouting of players for the U16, U17 and U18 national teams. Each team has three fulltime coaches, a trainer and a doctor.


  1. Youth Soccer Curriculums – Coaching for the 6-11 year olds revolves around having fun with soccer. At age 12-16 it is more focused and the emphasis is on technique and learning how to be a professional player. Players here train two hours daily on the techniques necessary at the top level.

An educator who specializes in youth soccer coaches each of these players. MFA’s target is to ensure that all youth coaches are properly trained and certified. The best players from this group will become professional players, as the clubs know about the top players at age ten.

Outline of Proposed Football Youth Development Program

This is an outline of the development program for the players between 13-20 years old in Malaysia modeled on the lines of the French Football Federation Youth Programme centred in Clairefontaine, France.

Players are identified at age 11 through districts and then regional teams.

The best 20-30 players at age 13 will be selected go to the national training center to be established by MFA in Kuala Lumpur.

At this center and the other six centers, the players are educated with these concepts in mind:

  • To forget what is at stake
  • That results only come from the game
  • To respect the principles of playing soccer and play within the structure the coach gives you
  • Victory is the only goal
  • The first consideration is to be present (to become an impact player) in the game, to free the youth trainee from his opponent, and to ask for the ball

The Coach

The most important person in soccer is the coach. Coaches at this level must be researchers into the game as well as trainers. The MWSF must have the ability to train all of these coaches.

Training Issues

When the coach is preparing his training sessions, the emphasis should be on technical ability, and his own convictions and conception of what soccer should look like. He must take into account the age of the players and the proper objectives linked to that age. He must be precise and professional. Every coach has access to many soccer exercises but has to know the proper way to proceed and to present them. The advice given to each player is very important. The coach must be careful of his language in order to help the players understand his methods. No yelling is tolerated. Objectives and issues in training are clear to the players. The players have the best training conditions and train one time daily, five days a week.

The priorities for the players are:

  • To become a professional player with the maximum chance of succeeding (this includes the four factors of soccer)
  • Keep up with their studies so they can have a career in case soccer does not work out

The priorities for the coaches are:

  • The methods in which they work. Malaysia will be one of the few Asian countries to have a youth coaching license required
  • To develop a highly qualified technical staff, all licensed and well trained

In the training sessions emphasis is given to repeating the quality of soccer movements. These are corrected and repeated until they become a regular part of the player’s package of skills. The coaches must be quality demonstrators.

The coaches will then work on:

  • Making the player’s movements faster and better
  • Linking movements efficiently and wisely. Coaches constantly ask the player why they use a certain move in a certain situation
  • Using the weakest foot. Coaches will develop specific sessions to work on weaknesses in the player’s game
  • Technical exercises with high reoccurrences
  • Games with the possibility of many choices and reflections
  • Simple tactical exercises forcing the player to make a quick decision
  • Realistic activities which make the player feel as if he were in a real game

“All the big time players keep the game simple”. An example of this would be not dribbling (unless going to goal) instead of making a 30-yard pass (as this slows the game down).

Sir Bobby Charlton was quoted as saying at the Post-to-Post International Training Center that, “Soccer is a simple game made difficult by the players”.

Johan Cruyff, while at Barcelona, stated that the coach who gave his player more than two options does not understand the game of soccer.

Training therefore is done with this context in mind:

  • Quantity
  • Quality
  • Consistency
  • Demands of the game
  • Simplicity

The Selection of Top Level Players

  • They must have exceptional technique
  • They must have intelligence on the field
  • They must have a high work rate on the field
  • They must have a good school record
  • They must pass their medical tests
  • They must pass their physical tests

The Weekly Schedule (club)

  • U13 – Participate in two to three training periods and one match
  • 13-15 years – Participate in four to five training periods and one match with a minimum of 35 matches a year

The Weekly Schedule (pros)

  • 16– 17 years – Five to seven trainings with one match, 40 matches per year and four to five weeks without any training at all
  • 17-20 years – Seven to nine trainings, one match, with many competitions against older players

Training Priorities

Age 13:

  • The range of the players abilities (age specific)
  • The choices the player makes. Every player plays with the ball for the first fifteen minutes of training. The player decides what to do with the ball. This starts to personalize his game.
  • The game. This is the most important part, in training or actual competition

Age 14:

  • The range
  • The situation. Here the coach decides on the activities to bring out the individual’s technique
  • The choice
  • The game

Age 15:

  • The situation. The coach plans everything.
  • The efficiency
  • The competition (lots of opposition)

At this stage of development the players must be working two hours a day on technical skills.

The MFA will look at three aspects of maintaining the balance in their young player’s lives. First is insuring that players are able to maintain a normal study program in case their intended professional career does not work. The family and original club are very important. The player returns to his club each week to play matches. He is expected to become a leader on and off the field. The soccer aspect has been discussed above. The training environment for these young players must have top class facilities not only on the field but also in the classroom.

Psychological Factors

The players will undergo a sports personality test. These are 120 question tests that give the players situations that they have to solve, dealing with family matters, peer pressure, etc. The players who scored the highest are all currently professional players. All the training centers employ consultants to work with the players. In certain situations outside experts may be brought in. The clubs pay strict attention to the special needs that may be associated with being a minority.

Medical Factors

Players will undergo extensive medical testing. These include test on the treadmill, cybex machines, skin fold thickness (body fat), height and weight, vision, dental, and suppleness. The MFA will follow selected players for two years in the areas of sight and dental to minimise the risk of injuries.

During this time period, the body is going through tremendous changes. Muscular education is vital at this time. Pre-puberty growth will start for girls at age 8-9 and puberty growth will finish at 12-13 years. For boys it will begin at age 11 and end at age 15. There will be an overall increase in the strength of the legs and the trunk. Hormonal levels and activity will also increase as will cartilage growth.

Exercises at this age must include spinal column mobility.

Abdominal work is becoming vital and including the central and oblique muscles. The central pelvic area must be developed.

Proprioceptive work must be used to reduce the number of strain in the lower body. This will include the use of balance boards. Plyometrictcs are important through the use of low obstacles (cones) and high obstacles (hurdles). Education concerning stretching is vital.

Physical Tests

All tests are taken on the soccer field. The players run through a battery of speed detector tests over 40 meters with sensors every 5 yards. This begins at age 11. The Swedish Beep Test is used frequently. Springing and bounding is tested via the Italian formulated Bosco Test. Another Swedish test originated by Lager-Boucher is run over 200 meters. This is the player’s favorite as they can easily see their progress.

Measurements as to the player’s VO2 Maximum Uptake and levels of lactic acid through blood test are recorded. The player’s quadriceps are measured during muscle force for asymmetry in both legs. Frequently the heart rate is measured during training through the use of sensor straps.

The player’s injuries mostly occur during the first two months of training as their bodies need to adjust to the strains and stresses they are under. The biggest injuries are found in the hip, ankle and knee areas.

Physical Analysis of Young Players

  • Morphology – players are tested as to the age of their bones to help determine adult size. This is done through an x-ray of the left wrist. The player’s weight, height and percentage of body fat is measured against the age group standards.
  • Medical Purpose – determining medically related limitations
  • Physical Aspect – determining there athletic potential. Here speed is the most important.
  • Technical Skills – the most important aspect! This includes intelligence, adaptability, and expertness during the game.
  • Personality – discussed during QPS and Sports Personality section
  • Scholarship – Grades in school. The student’s behavior in and out of school and work is monitored.

The MFA feels that the player has two real jobs; one to be a soccer player and the second to go to school.

The Training Environment:

All the players have the same equipment. They are taught and expected to take care of their shoes. Each is provided with a water bottle and a ball that is required to be well inflated at all times.

The training progressions are increased at the proper time in intensity and difficulty. The training time depends on the amount of intensity and may possibly be up to two hours, depending on the frequency of recovery time.

Proposed Training Schedule

Monday:

  • Skill work
  • Aerobic exercises
  • Stretching
  • Agility training
  • Basketball, volleyball or handball games

Tuesday:

  • Skill work, repetitive exercises versus opposition
  • Games with opponents

Wednesday:

  • Skill exercise
  • Tactical exercises which are specific in nature
  • Applications of the above tactical exercise to the game

Thursday:

  • Same training as Tuesday but with more leeway to the players

Friday:

  • Physical implications. This is done without intensity, i.e., working for 5 seconds and resting for 20 seconds (work/rest ratio of one to four). The work is done with the ball whenever possible.
    • Speed movements
    • Strength movements
    • Jumping movements
  • Principles of Play

Saturday and Sunday:

  • Match or break

Physical Training

This aspect is broken down into three areas: Endurance, Speed, and Physical Stength. Endurance is developed through a series of calibrated run with special attention given to the rhythm of the exercise. Speed is developed through; 1) races with and without the ball over short distances of 5m, 10m, 20m, and 30m, 2) exercises with the ball, and 3) games of 2 v2 with special attention paid to the rhythm and intensity of the games. The physical strength consists of activities that promote the individual’s suppleness, supporting moves, coordination with the ball, and agility.

Skill Training: Individual Mastery of the Ball

  • Repetition of technical work at a high level
  • Juggling the ball, running with the ball, dribbling, feints, using both feet at all times
  • Kicking and passing
  • Ball control
  • Shooting
    • To be executed with both the foot and the head
    • To be comfortable in front of the goal
    • The touch (technique)
    • Precision is more important than power
    • To link up the goal scorers and finish with a shot on goal, from in front of the goal
  • Crossing and snap shots
  • Heading games
  • Defensive games with the emphasis on not committing fouls

“Passing the ball is the language of the soccer player”

Ball control is the basis of the game (always done while moving). The young French players are taught to always feint when receiving or passing which allows them to get in or out of tight marking situations. All sessions include lots of shooting and special sessions on how to cross the ball. They should always be looking for options on the field.

Tactical

These elements are always part of the training games and the system of play:

  • To help the ball carrier
    • To get the ball back
    • To offer support
  • To demand the ball
  • To pass the ball and follow the pass
  • Coverage in the defense
  • Positioning and the movement into space
  • The notion of the attacker defending and the defender attacking

The Game

  • Numeric overbalance
    • Always seeking numbers up in tight space, the lower the numbers, the more responsibility each player has to undertake
  • Reduce the playing area and reduce the numbers
  • With lateral space
  • In several zones
    • Changing the zones from large to small and visa versa
    • Incorporating games with four small goals to provide target areas and played on a handball field (similar to our basketball courts)
    • Partnering up two forwards and two midfielders, etc.
  • Attacking and defending in waves (using the midfielders)

Summary

The MFA will work under the principle that “This work is very important for the game of tomorrow”. The better job they do in the development of quality players at the youth level, the more accomplished professional players will burst onto the scene. The MFA will keep a close eye on the professional clubs because they might not always be concerned with the best interests of the young players. They feel that out of all the elements, the development of the technical ability is the most important.

When professional clubs are training youth players to become professionals, there are several points to consider:

  • Young players must be trained on building up their strong points and improving their weaknesses.
  • They must be strong mentally throughout their work.
  • Players between the ages of 16-18 must work extremely hard to get to the next level and be very ambitious (Patrick Viera was very ambitious) at this age.
  • Players at this age must do a lot of work with and without the ball.
  • Young players must train with older players.

13 comments:

walla said...

Good proposal.

It is small wonder that in this land of hijacks, the pissification index is high.

Even housing developers turn finance ministers do it. Imagine, hijacking someone's proposal for a non-commercial social service.

Two things happen when someone's idea is hijacked. One, the project will be the poorer for the absence of that grunt-factor which had sparked the idea in the head of the original proposer; you need heart to keep faith to a project's success evolution. That can only come from the original proposer and not any pretender just given the job whose head will be disconnected from the full ramifications of one who has had to grapple with a host of factors when crafting the proposal. Two, making hijacks the norm of national development will tell people they can expect such things will take place again which will not be cordoned by any respectable judicial process, in which case who will want to do so anymore in the future?

Power comes with responsibility but some people irresponsibly tend to conveniently forget.

Right?

bluesailor said...

Nothing new brother, this country is gone unless a era or wave of change takes place.

Born2Reign said...

If selection is based on race, forget it.

de minimis said...

Dear All

I share your sentiments. Much sporting talent has fallen by the wayside. The few sparks are quickly grabbed and conferred honorifics and property. We used to have football heroes in the 50s, 60s and, 70s. Now we have none.

We used to throng to stadiums to cheer the heroes. Now the arena is filled with sub-standard gladiators and a handful of supporters.

If we still had the Roman Colliseum where gladiators fought lions...it would be a case of Lions 11:0 Malaysian football (all eaten).

ben said...

Aduh sakitnya kepala. Mana panadol ini, dah kena kencing banyak kali dah !

walla, I have another anology like yours. It's like a pretentious 'cook' trying to figure out how to cook. So the 'cook' copies down the ingredient diligently but the food doesn't turn out the same as the original cook. How come ah ?

The biggest hijackers are the gatekeepers of power that be. Hack even a railway gatekeeper can become an ADUN, no ?

The saddest part is that the stolen intellectual property never see the daylight after using millions of taxpayers' money to launch it.

Anonymous said...

We used to throng to stadiums to cheer the heroes
I like to highlight that particular statement of yours. Much have been said about the state of our football. However, very little finger pointing is done towards us, the so called supporters.

Every successful team will say one of the factors of their success is the supporters. A team constantly being abused by their own supporters will never be successful. And this is what is happening. The few that go to the games would start abusing after a few bad passes, and the abuses ..my god..come to Stadium Hang Jebat and you will understand what I mean. And not to mention the level of criticism the teams get in the morning papers.

My point is, if you're really a true supporter, really worried about the state of our football, go and support your team. Win or lose. Whether they play well or badly. Give committed support and you will see your team playing better in no time.

So, stop talking about it. Get your father, mother, sister, brother, friend, everybody...get them to the stadium for the next match and support your team.

almondo.

de minimis said...

almondo

FYI I've been a Merah-Kuning supporter since boyhood. If you wish people like me, who love the game, to shut up who's going to stand up and say that change is needed? FAM? State FAs? Players?

If the product is awful do you want to continue to consume it? In the case of football, the sad answer is "yes" we continue to consumed it; the die-hard ones, i mean.

Apart from Merah-Kuning, I'm still with Leeds United even tho' they're 2 dvisions down from the Premier League. If that still doesn't qualify me to discuss football, then this will be my one post on Malaysian football and, hereafter, I shall "gulung tikar" on Malaysian football.

Anonymous said...

@de minimis,

Great suggestion on restructuring the Malaysia football academy. To better argue your case, you should also compare facts with what the State FA's are currently doing (a sort of 'before and after' comparison.

We can always point fingers to the FA administrators of doing a bad job, but what aspects of it is bad? Quantification of the problem is important, no less so than the identification of it.

I was at the SEA Games final between Malaysia and Thailand where we lost 1-0 with 10 mins of injury time to play. The fans totally slaughtered our team.

Even the Selangor FC Fan Club with their drums went quiet! With 10 mins of injury time! This would never happen in any other country.

Attitudes have to change in this country. Just like high traffic accident rates, it's all about the attitude.

Most people stay at home to watch EPL, La Liga or whatever foreign football league on TV because it's a product with a low-quality local alternative. Just like cars. You drive a Proton because it's the only one you can afford. If you can afford better, you won't be driving a Proton.

Until Malaysian clubs can hold their own against the Pohang Steelers and Al-Ittihads in the AFC Champions League tournaments, we won't get the respect from our fans. It's a quality and marketing issue. the Malaysian League cannot be marketed as an alternative to the foreign leagues. It has to have a niche of its own.

BTW, I drive a Proton myself, just because I love buying local.

de minimis said...

Anon 3:32

thanks. Harimau Muda did us proud. Pity I don't have the resources for a State FA comparison study. Nor do I have access *sigh*. That said, I believe KJ is one person who have the chops to get Malaysian football back to a respectable level.

frenchie said...

Hey de minimis,

I love your proposal as it is very concrete and based on proven football development formula from Clairefontaine.

I am a big lover of French football and i had followed the progress of their football talents notably Yohann Gourcuff, Hatem Ben Arfa, Samir Nasri and Karim Benzema during my 5 years stay there. For what i can say, their football is too systematic that whenever you watch them playing, it's like you have a goal machine in front of your eyes. They're too rich with football theories that have been the main tools for their game construction.

Ok, i should stop with that. :)

Well, i'm actually thinking about something nearly similar to what you have written.

I'm thinking of building up a football academy.More precisely, this academy would have 2 ultimate goals:
1) Promoting football as a profession.
2) Allowing our local talents to reach more competitive league in foreign countries.

I am a football fan too but my technical description about football is so limited compared to yours. So concerning this idea, if your interest is more on technical side, mine is more on infrastructure and financial supports (i don't mean that i will support financially, but i mean that i can work for it). I would say that both elements are very important in football industry, right?

Look, your proposal seems nice for me and i'm wondering if we can collaborate to elaborate more this proposal?

If you are really serious with this brilliant proposal, ready to commit for it and interested for collaboration, you can just email me : firdausjuhari@gmail.com or call me : 012-2131503.

Appreciate your kind consideration.

yusuf patrick said...

Hi my valuable readers my name is Patrick i school presently in Malaysia but i have a good football talent i play in the midfield just like xavi or iniesta but am currently not with any club please i need your help to get me a club or anything to do in other to help cos i don't want my talent to waste thanks so very much as you plan to help me.Here is my mobile no if you need to contact me 01116287591 thanks.

eena said...

Well Football is not much popular at Malaysia so I do not think they can provide good academies.
Actually I wanted to be a partner of a soccer camp so applied at Youth Soccer Camps to be a part of a soccer championship. To encourage young people as well the ones who wants to organize these camps can see this site for further details Youth Soccer Camps by hostmysoccercamps.

Anonymous said...

hello, i have a cousin from japan would like to join the soccer academy/club at malaysia,i need your help, because i dont know which academy or club that accept foreigner and its good, and here is my wechat id melindajohnson
pls contact me ,thanks alot.