Malaysian Education Ministry to invest in football

Malaysia's Education Ministry plans to develop football in schools to assist the country's qualification chances for the 2011 FIFA U-17 World Cup. “We will present a paper on the development program of high performance sport in schools to the Cabinet Committee for Sports at its meeting on 31 July. Football has been identified as one of the eight high performance sports that we will focus on,” Education Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein told reporters after launching a Young Talent Carnival.

The program intends to provide comprehensive development of football from primary school to secondary school, focusing on various aspects from coaching to funding, sports science to technical support. Once implemented, the program will see talented U-12 players placed in primary schools selected as football centres, where they will be trained under a qualified coach from the school or the Football Association of Malaysia. Training centres for U-15 players will also be established in secondary schools at each district while the best U-18 players will be placed in the National Sports Schools and the rest at the state sports schools nationwide.

Describing the national football team’s performance in the Asian Cup as “embarrassing”, Hishammuddin, however, "admited that it is everyone’s responsibility to boost the standard of the sport," Hariati Azizan reported in The Star. “To make the sports development programme more effective, we require the help of all stakeholders. It is unfair to push the responsibility solely on schools and teachers who are loaded with work. The sports bodies need to come down to schools and work with us. Tell us what you want to do,” thre Minister said, stressing that the schools “are always open to anyone”.

The ministry will work closely with FAM, National Sports Council and National Sports Institute. More important, added Hishammuddin, is the support of parents, who need to understand that sports do not effect their children’s studies and encourage them to be more active in sports. “A change in parents’ mindset is crucial to change the exam-orientated culture of schools,” Hisham noted.