Malaysia has some 800 football coaches and there are not enough jobs for them – yet it is a problem the FA of Malaysia (FAM) relish.
While some of them snub grassroots teams and eye the glamourous sides, others bemoan the presence of foreign coaches in the leagues.
Of the 800 coaches, it is thought that 33 of them hold a pro licence while 141 and 516 trainers are in the A and B categories, respectively.
On the other hand, FAM say these disgruntled coaches are not taking up the opportunities available.
These FAM certified coaches are licensed to train teams in the elite to the lowest tier M4 leagues.
Football Coaches Association of Malaysia president B Satianathan says the glut of coaches should not be a worry as the jobless could train youth teams and get involved with M3 and M4 leagues, and grassroots development.
The opportunities for the coaches will widen next year when the FAM make it compulsory for state FAs to have the state league (M4) next year.
Of late, many of them complained they were out of work as teams preferred experienced coaches and that they had to compete with foreigners.
Their problem, however, is that they eye the so-called glamorous jobs with the 42 teams in the Super, Premier and M3 leagues.
They appear disinterested in coaching juniors much to the chagrin of Satianathan, who insists that certified coaches at grassroots, college and university level would help ensure quality players coming through to M-League and the national team.
“Coaches cannot expect to parachute into the highest level. Even if one has a top licence, he must go through the whole process,” said Satianathan, who took 14 years to become a national coach.
Still, it cannot be denied that several young coaches have found it difficult to break into the “elite” coaching bracket as the current lot are in demand and considered young as well.
The last time M-League saw a new breed of coaches was five years ago when the likes of Zainal Abidin Hassan, Dollah Salleh, Mat Zan Mat Aris, K Devan, Tan Cheng Hoe, Ong Kim Swee, Khan Hung Meng, Razip Ismail and E Ellavarasan ruled coaching.
They emerged when veteran coaches such as the late Chow Kwai Lam, M Karathu, Ifran Bakti and Wan Jamak Wan Hassan quit.
Among the new coaches in the M-League now are Terengganu FC’s Mohd Nafuzi Mohd Zain, Police FC’s Ishak Kunju and Kuala Lumpur’s Nidzam Adzha Yusoff.
FAM general secretary Stuart Ramalingam said the growing number of coaches was a “healthy problem” and that there was a pathway for them.
He said more coaches obtained the A licence because of increased courses by the FAM under an upgraded syllabus. The courses were previously steered by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).
Stuart said FAM were awaiting approval from AFC to conduct pro licence courses which would produce more coaches at that level.
From next year, all licence holders would be required to undergo refresher courses once every two years to maintain quality.
Stuart agrees with Satianathan that coaches should gain experience at various levels before moving up.
What about the foreign coaches in the football development M3 League?
Stuart said the matter needed review and M3 League teams would likely be barred from hiring foreign coaches.
That’s a step in the right direction as the M3 and M4 leagues are part of development of players, coaches, referees, and match officials.
Ironically, while citing lack of funds, some M3 teams have opted for foreign coaches, saying locals were costly.
Of the 18 teams in M3, four have coaches from England, Nigeria, Chile, and Poland.
In the Super League there are five foreign coaches, and two in Premier II. There are also foreign assistant coaches, and goalkeeper, and physical trainers.
Malaysian coaches should also seek jobs in neighbouring countries. Presently, only Raja Isa Raja Akram Shah is coaching in Indonesia.
Ex-players should stop thinking that life after their playing days end is just about coaching.
Football is an industry. They should explore other areas like being a manager, administrator, physiotherapist, nutritionist, pundit, television commentator and content provider.
Those moaning about lack of opportunities and dreaming of coaching top-flight sides should take a cue from Aminuddin Hussin, who has youth football at heart.
He has helped take many youth players to national level following his stints with the Bukit Jalil Sports School and the National Football Development Programme.
Wannabe coaches should get out of their comfort zone and grab any opportunity that comes their way, even if it means starting from scratch.
The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.
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