PEKAN – The government is committed to empowering the sport of football in the country by supporting football development programmes at the grassroots level.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said programmes such as the Liga Bola Sepak Rakyat (LBR) or People’s Football League mooted by Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) president Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah were among the best platforms for football development by unearthing many more quality talents.
“Football is not only a sport that needs to expand at the grassroots level, but there should also be a development plan implemented to expose new talents with potential in the sport.
“This programme should not be left on its own, but to be carried out using scientific and professional methods so as to produce more football talents of quality.”
Najib said this when speaking at the launching of the LBR at Dataran Pekan, here, Sunday.
Also present at the launching were Tengku Abdullah, who is also the Tengku Mahkota of Pahang.
Others present included Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Minister Datuk Hamzah Zainuddin, Bank Rakyat chairman General (Rtd) Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Zainal and Pahang Youth and Sports Committee chairman Datuk Mohd Johari Hussain.
In translating that support, Najib said the federal government and Bank Rakyat were prepared to channel an allocation of RM10 million over a period of three years to LBR.
He said that until now, the country still lacked a platform to unearth new football players at the grassroots level.
“Although we had been AFF Suzuki champions before, 70 per cent of the players were from the Bukit Jalil Sports School.
“This means that the channel for producing new talents is too narrow and limited.
“That was why when Tengku Abdullah proposed the LBR to find new talents, I spontaneously agreed as it would be good for football development in this country,” he said.
Najib said to bring back football glory to the country, more parties should come forward to assist the football development programme and not just be good at criticising.
He also hoped that young players participating in the LBR would not just focus on the mission of winning the league trophy, but to make it as the best medium to develop their football talent.
Najib said he himself would be monitoring the league by obtaining its report from time to time.
The idea of establishing the LBR came from Tengku Abdullah with the objective of developing the sport in a systematic way, besides becoming an institution enable to produce quality players for the national squad.
A total of 111 teams from across Malaysia will be participating in this amateur league involving 520 matches and they will be grouped according to zones.