KUALA LUMPUR - Various efforts are needed to reorganise and revive football in the country from the grassroots-level so that the national team can compete well on the global-level, says Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said.
He noted that among the factors to be taken into consideration were the views of some parents who did not see a career in football for their children as having a future, and that this perception needed to be changed.
"We also need to provide a platform for companies to see the value and returns in sponsoring football in Malaysia, whether it be the players, clubs and national squads at all age groups, just as investors do and international firms who sponsor big clubs in Europe.
"Sponsorship is very important in ensuring sustainability and talent development as well as the future of the sport," he said in a posting on NajibRazak.com last night titled 'Harimau Malaya will rise again'.
For the record, the national football team lost to Hong Kong 0-2 Tuesday night in the 2019 Asian Football Championship qualifiers.
Najib said the talent scouting system at the grassroots-level should also be reinforced in order to tap hidden talents for the future.
"We need to develop and even give a new breath of life to the football industry as a whole, something that cannot be achieved by the government or the parent body (Football Association of Malaysia) alone, but it should also get input, support and cooperation from fans, corporate bodies, investors, expertise from the sports science and medical institutes, public and private football academies, and other related parties.
"In other words, we need a paradigm or 'mentality shift' among football fans. All of these will take time, we will not be able to change in a short period of time," he said.
Citing his favourite football team, Manchester United, Najib said the team took seven years after Sir Alex Ferguson's appointment to win the League title, and 13 years before winning the Champions League at club level.
"We need to give space and time to those responsible for rebuilding national football, and I am confident that the improvements and efforts being undertaken by FAM under the leadership of the Tunku Mahkota of Johor will be fruitful," he said.
According to Najib, despite being proud of the national team for lifting the Suzuki Cup in 2010 and picking up the SEA Games gold in 2011, it had to be acknowledged that of late, the performance of the squad had been grim and inconsistent.
At the same time, Najib called on all parties involved, including the Ministry of Youth and Sports, public and private soccer academies, corporate bodies and enthusiasts to continue working together to achieve the common goal.
"To the national players, continue to work hard and try again. Failing once does not mean it will last forever. The same goes to the players at schools, academies, and grassroots, continue to work and pursue success. I and all Malaysians will continue to support you.
"Football needs support and joint efforts from all of us to bring it back on track, only then can the Harimau Malaya rise again!", said Najib.