28 January 2012

NFABD welcomes KL's 'M-League idea'

Jason Thomas

Saturday, January 28, 2012

THE National Football Association of Brunei Darussalam (NFABD) is open to the idea of sending a team to participate in the Malaysia League (M-League) in the future.

Malaysia's Minister of Youth and Sports, Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek, told Malaysian news agency Bernama on Thursday that the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) and NFABD could create a mechanism towards Brunei's participation.

Brunei played in the M-League (then known as the Semi-Pro League) from 1989 to 1993 and won the 1999 Malaysia Cup by shocking Sarawak 2-1 at the Merdeka Stadium the country's defining moment in football and a match which still lives on in the memories of many local football fans.

Though the national team pulled out of the M-League in 2008, Brunei in the form of DPMM FC proved to be a revelation in their debut Singapore League (S-League) campaign in 2009 by clinching the Singapore League Cup.

DPMM FC are in the final stages of preparation for the 2012 S-League season which kicks off next month but there has been no talk about Brunei sending a team to participate in either the top-flight Malaysian Super League or Malaysian Premier League.

Singapore and Malaysia already have a strong interest in each other's football leagues so it wouldn't be too much to ask to see Brunei in the fray.

Harimau Muda (Malaysian Under-23 team) are playing in this season's S-League and the Young Lions (Singaporean Under-23 team) in this season's M-League, a move which has attracted an encouraging response from fans of both nations and one which would no doubt have the same feedback if Brunei is allowed the opportunity to follow suit.

Speaking on the possibility of being represented in the M-League, an NFABD official said that though the FAM has yet to approach them, the doors to their office in NFABD House would always be open.

"So far there hasn't been any approach yet (but) anything is possible," said the official.

"Each case is to be looked at separately based on its merit.

"Our focus is on our own local league (DST-National Football League) but of course participation overseas is also important for experience and exposure," said the official.

The official went on to cite Brunei's participation at next month's Hassanal Bolkiah Trophy and last year's Southeast Asian (SEA) Games as prime examples of such overseas tournaments.

NFABD was also optimistic about the idea of a proposed Southeast Asian (Asean) Super League when the Asean Football Federation (AFF) revealed it had appointed a sub-committee to look into its viability last June.

"Whatever the AFF organises, as much as we can we will try to be involved and participate. The AFF organises a lot of tournaments and gives its members the opportunity to host them," an NFABD official then said.

"Brunei like to participate, but again, it depends on our capability ... (and) the conditions. It depends on how the tournament is organised, for example. If the invite comes to us early ... If we think it is worth it for us to participate, we will," added the official.

Ahmad Shabery speaking on the sidelines of a golf friendly with the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports Pehin Orang Kaya Pekerma Laila Diraja Dato Seri Setia Hj Hazair Hj Abdullah at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club in the Malaysian capital told Bernama that cooperation in sports not only involves government to government, but also between sports associations of both countries.

Pehin Dato Hj Hazair said his visit would help strengthen ties between the two ministries after signing a memorandum of understanding in Brunei last year.

"We have identified several areas in youth and sports that could be developed and expanded to strengthen our ties," Pehin Dato Hj Hazair told Bernama.

The visit was a reciprocation of the one that Ahmad Shabery paid to Brunei in July, where the countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on youth and sports.

One of the areas which the two countries agreed to work on was exchange of expertise, and though it was their first MoU in the field, excellent cooperation between the two countries has always been a hallmark of the nations' relationship.The Brunei Times


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