The 'restart ball' is at Hamidin's feet

HELLO brother. This is how Datuk Hamidin Mohd Amin greets members of the media when he meets them.

Underneath Hamidin’s polite, friendly demeanour is a tireless worker who often burns the midnight oil for the betterment of football.

Unlike many who show a change in character when they are in power, Hamidin, who rose from bank officer to FA of Selangor secretary and finally president of FA of Malaysia (FAM), is always friendly even during troubled times.

It has been two years since the charismatic and approachable Hamidin was voted in as the head of the most prestigious national sports association in the country.

Under Hamidin, FAM launched the F:30 Roadmap in 2018, an initiative towards turning Malaysia into a football power, followed by last year’s Malaysian Football DNA programme which outlined a uniform coaching system from grassroots to elite level.

FAM also signed an MoU with the Japan FA to adopt some of the latter’s initiatives to help improve Malaysian football.

The MoU has opened opportunities for Malaysian players. Late last year, several youth players in Luqman Hakim Shamsudin, Sikh Izhan Nazrel Sikh Azman, Ahmad Zikri Khalili, Firdaus Khaironnisam, Harith Haiqal Adam Aftar and Ali Imran Sukari were sent to Japan for training stints.

However, some of Hamidin’s moves have led to controversies. Many are against FAM’s naturalisation programme as they fear Malaysian football would lose its identity.

However, this initiative has turned out to be a masterstroke as players like Mohamadou Sumareh, Brendan Gan, Matthew Davies and La’ Vere Corbin-Ong, among others, have helped Harimau Malaya improve by leaps and bounds.

Malaysia have done creditably well in the pre-World Cup so far, and many believe Tan Cheng Hoe’s side will qualify for at least the 2023 China Asian Cup.

And Malaysia’s newest naturalised player, Liridon Krasniqi will definitely add firepower to the national team’s attack.

Hamidin has done a lot of good for football here. Of course, being the FAM president, he cannot make everyone happy.

The Covid-19 pandemic has delayed his work. He was hoping to implement more football programmes.

But the pandemic also opened a can of worms as it exposed the fragility of several M-League teams.

The unwarranted cost-cutting measures taken by debt-ridden clubs became a joke in town.

These teams, who did not earn much from gate collections and sponsorships, used Covid-19 as the reason to cut salaries of players and coaches.

Hamidin, who doubles up as the head of the Malaysian Football League (MFL), faces his biggest task: when to restart the M-League — in mid-August or September.

It is puzzling that both MFL and FAM are facing this dilemma considering that the government has given the green light for the resumption of local competitions in team sports from Aug 15.

Excuses like preparation of venues (disinfection, sanitisation and other things) and whether players will be match fit if the season restarts in August do not make sense as MFL and their stakeholders still have ample time to get things prepared.

An August 15 restart will benefit the national team as they will have more days to prepare for their pre-World Cup matches in October.

FAM and MFL need to make a wise decision here.

If they restart the season on Sept 1, it might jeopardise Harimau Malaya’s hopes of qualifying for the 2023 Asian Cup or even the 2022 World Cup.

Cheng Hoe’s team still have a chance, so let’s not put the M-League ahead of Harimau Malaya.

Hamidin faces a sticky situation but being a football man, I believe he, together with his executives and board members will make the right decision for the betterment of the national team.

Continue with your good work and please make the right decisions, Hamidin.

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