SEGAMBUT, July 27 — Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman directed the FA of Malaysia (FAM) to specify their plans to develop the sport in Malaysia so his ministry can then decide what to do with the controversial National Football Development Programme (NFDP).
“There is no easy way out when it comes to developing champions hence grassroots development is extremely important,” said the youth and sports minister.
He was attending the signing ceremony for a memorandum of understanding between Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) and the governor of Ehime, Torihiko Nakamura, to make the Japanese prefecture its base for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
“If we’re to unearth more icons like Lee Chong Wei and Datuk Misbun Sidek, we need to have more grassroots. We can't expect our athletes to just go out and win or find a shortcut to success,” he said.
The NFDP was started in 2014 to develop grassroots football in the country. It is under the purview of the Youth and Sports Ministry.
Millions have been spent on the programme that currently has about 25,000 trainees and 1,000 coaches nationwide.
Despite the time and resources invested, Malaysia’s national team has continued to decline in Fifa's rankings and is 171st.
Former FAM president Tunku Ismail Johor (TMJ) had wanted to bring NFDP under FAM's jurisdiction during his tenure. He left on March 15 and was replaced Datuk Hamidin Amin.
Debate over the value of the NFDP continues.
Syed Saddiq said he met briefly with Hamidin in Indonesia, but stressed that he was adamant that the association lay bare its plans before he could proceed.
“That way we can find a common meeting ground and worked together the best we can to ensure emphasis is put on grassroots development.
“As yet, no final decisions have been made regarding NFDP as we want to have further discussions. Once we know what FAM has to offer we will see how we can collaborate with them.”
Separately, he wished Lee well after the shuttler missed out on the World Championship title due to illness.