KUALA LUMPUR: A RM5 million allocation announced by Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim today should be used solely for developing the national football squad, youth and sports minister Hannah Yeoh said today.
She said the Football Association of Malaysia should not use the money for other purposes, such as paying salaries and settling utility bills.
“Harimau Malaya and other teams under FAM need regular training funds. If they want to match the strong teams, they need exposure like sparring sessions which require funds.
“FAM needs government funding and we can see in these two years the result of training conducted by Kim Pan Gon (head coach). Hamidin Amin (FAM president) is always looking for funds and as a sign of the federal government’s support, the association has been given a one-off allocation of RM5 million,” she told reporters after joining Anwar for lunch here today.
Yeoh said the finance ministry and the national audit department would monitor FAM’s expenditure to ensure the money allocated was spent only on the national squad.
She said the government was helping FAM partly because football is the country’s number one sport, as evident from the large attendance of more than 60,000 who watched Harimau Malaya’s three matches in the 2023 Asian Cup on giant screens at 16 locations nationwide.
Yeoh said the expenses incurred by the national squad to compete in the Asian Cup were lower than those of their Group E opponents Bahrain, South Korea and Jordan. “That is why I felt we needed to help (them) because it will be tough for them to go looking for funds on their own,” she said.
Harimau Malaya ended their campaign by sensationally holding Asian giants South Korea to a 3-3 draw in their final Group E match at Al Janoub Stadium in Doha last night.
Despite the draw, Malaysia still finished last in the group with one point. Malaysia’s hope to create history by qualifying for the round of 16 was dashed after they lost their first two group matches, 0-4 to Jordan and 0-1 to Bahrain.
Yeoh also urged sports fans not to call for a change in the management of national teams or sports associations each time Malaysia does not perform well in international competitions.
“It takes time to make improvements. Just as Pan Gon took two years to mould Harimau Malaya, the same goes for hockey. We will wait for the steps to be taken by the Malaysian Hockey Confederation after this,” she said.
“If we get our support system right, I believe our sports will continue to progress,” she said when asked about the national men’s hockey squad’s failure to qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympics.
Malaysia last qualified for the Olympic hockey tournament in the 2000 Sydney games.