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 Sports

‘Be passionate about our own clubs’

28th December, 2020

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian football fans should reduce glorifying foreign football teams, but instead enhance their support for the local football squads for the development of the sport in the country, said Kuala Lumpur Youth Soccer (KLYS) director and head coach Luis Pablo Pozzuto.

He said that while local football fans showed much support for foreign leagues like the English Premier League (EPL), Spanish La Liga and Italian Serie A, they at the same time without realising are neglecting the local leagues, especially at the grassroots level.

The 53-year-old Argentine, who has been residing in Malaysia for over 18 years since his last playing career with Penang, said in order for local football to develop, the fans must pledge their support to the teams and players by watching their games, including in the lower tiers.

“It takes time to develop…But first need to change our mentality of watching more English football and instead watch more Malaysian football. Even in Argentina they watch EPL, but if a second division team (from Argentina) plays at the same time, they will watch the second division match.

“We need to be passionate about our own clubs, but in Malaysia the fans have passion for other clubs. You live in KL but why you support Liverpool more? The media also needs to highlight the local football scene and encourage people to watch matches in stadiums,” he told Bernama recently.

Pozzuto is among the few professional footballers to have an opportunity to receive coaching from football legend Diego Maradona during his professional playing days with Argentine Primera Division outfit, Deportivo Mandiyu in 1994.

In the later part of his career, Pozzuto played for Kelantan during the 1997 and 1998 seasons and Penang from 2001-2003 where he helped The Panthers clinch the first division (Premier 1) title in 2001, before coaching several M-League teams like Public Bank and Melaka.

Commenting further, he said blaming the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) alone won’t resolve football doldrums in the country, as fans, talent scouting and the development system play a huge role.

Pozzuto, who used to play midfield and forward, said teams playing in the top tiers should have youth development initiatives by establishing youth teams from below nine all the way till they reach the reserve team.

“On average boys in Malaysia start serious football training at the age of 15, I played in first division when I was 16. Today, in football you need to start training by three or four years. To become a doctor, you need to study from primary, secondary school and university, same in football, you need to have under-9, 12, 15 and 19 (teams).

“Many will complaint how to spend money on development when they are suffering to pay the salaries of the first team players. Maybe you won’t get instant success, but if you manage to produce one good talent, he can be sold to a foreign team…Later pump in the money again for development, if you do not pump in the money, the system will collapse.

“That is what countries like Argentina and Brazil are doing. I do not see it happening here. Only Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) are doing it, but who they are going to compete with if others do not have teams? Every team must have youth teams,” he said.

On the sports school system, Pozzuto said the sports schools should evaluate their students on yearly basis and replace the non-performing players with new performing players, rather than keeping the same players for five years despite their lack of form. – Bernama

   
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