Syed Saddiq calls for revamp of NFDP

Football Association of Malaysia sacked Malaysia’s under-16 coach Lim Teong Kim. — Picture by Azneal Ishak
Football Association of Malaysia sacked Malaysia’s under-16 coach Lim Teong Kim. — Picture by Azneal Ishak

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 27 ― Lim Teong Kim's sacking by Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) is welcomed by the Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman, while pointing some of the blame at the previous government for the failure of the National Football Development Programme (NFDP) to qualify for next year's Fifa Under-17 World Cup.

Malaysia need to beat Japan today to advance to the quarterfinals of the ongoing Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Under-16 Championships which is a qualifying event for the Fifa Under-17 World Cup next year.

They lost 2-0 finishing rock bottom in Group A and not long after that, Syed Saddiq called for a press conference at the Youth and Sports Ministry (KBS) in Putrajaya.

Syed Saddiq told reporters apart from Lim's sacking, he also received the resignation of NFDP Chief Executive Officer Safirul Abu Bakar. However, he did not want to accept Safirul's resignation as yet.

“Safirul took responsibility and resigned which I appreciate. However before I accept his resignation I want to meet FAM, MSN (National Sports Council) and NFDP officials to have a post mortem and see what's the best way for us to move forward,” said Syed Saddiq.

“In Lim's case, not only did he set himself the target of reaching the Under-17 World Cup and failed, he's also paid RM175,000 a month ― tax-free ― by MSN. I feel if you're getting paid this much you must take responsibility for failures.

“He is still contracted to KBS till 2020 but this contract is coming under review as well,” he added.

Syed Saddiq went on to reveal to members of the press that NFDP were promised RM20 million a year by the previous government but never received the full amount.

In 2014 ― the year of its inception ― they received RM10 million in 2015 they got RM7 million then in 2016 and 2017 received RM3.5 million per year for a total of RM24 million out of the expected RM80 million.

“NFDP never got their full allocation so to blame them for all the failures is not right as at times they were cash strapped,” explained Syed Saddiq.

“What shocks me is despite not getting all the money they were still paying Lim such an exorbitant amount.

“Despite all that, I believe NFDP programme shouldn't be abolished. At its core, NFDP is a good grassroots programme. All it needs is some restructuring to show more transparency and accountability for the money spent.

“I will make sure from now on if we allocate money to the state football associations (FA) for grassroots development they use it for that purpose only.

“I don't want to hear of state FAs using the grant money to pay off their senior team players debts. If they can't spend the money in the right way don't ask the government for help anymore,” said Saddiq.

Syed Saddiq set October 15 as the date to reveal the fate of NFDP. Meanhwile any interested parties wanting to help develop grassroots football can contact KBS.

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