A leading player in a sport that belonged to its own league
(From left) Paul Mony Samuel, G. Vijayanathan, and Edmund Yong were widely regarded as world-class sports administrators.

PETALING JAYA: Whether you’re a sports fan or not, you can’t help but be moved by the nostalgic golden era of Malaysian sports from 1966 to 1980.

During that era, Malaysia won many gold medals at the Asian Games, and our soccer team qualified for the Moscow Olympics, but did not make it.

Malaysian badminton won the 1967 Thomas Cup. The soccer team achieved an unprecedented qualification for the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich. They finished fourth in the 1975 Hockey World Cup.

Sportswriter Terence Netto said the achievement strengthens the argument that the period from 1966 to 1980 was the “miracle era of Malaysian sport”.

He said the accuracy of the description was strengthened by the achievements of sprinter Dr Mani Jegatesan and badminton players Tan Aik Phan, Tan Yi Khan and Ng Boon Bee.

Jegathesan was declared “Asia’s Fastest Man” at the 1966 Bangkok Asiad, Ike Huang won the British singles title in the same year, and doubles pair Bunbee and Yee Khan were de facto champions in the mid-1960s. Won all titles.

Mr Nett said Mokhtar Dahari’s stunning goal against the England B soccer team in May 1978 highlighted Malaysia’s potential on the world stage, “unfortunately, if largely unfulfilled”. .

Mokhtar scored from 40 meters remaining, his shot flying over the out-of-position keeper Joe Corrigan.

Net, writing mysportsflame.comsaid that it was three of the National Sports Association’s most accomplished secretaries who added flavor to these early achievements.

The trio of football’s Paul Mony Samuel, hockey’s G. Vijayanathan (Viji) and golf’s Edmund Yong Jun Hong were widely regarded as world-class sports administrators.

pillar of respect

Paul Mony led the team at the 1998 FIFA World Cup (France). (Photo by George Das)

Biji and Edmund were central figures in the Malaysian Hockey Federation and the Malaysian Golf Association, respectively, from the 1960s to the early 1980s, at roughly the same time.

Paul was appointed to the post of Secretary General of the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) in 1984, when Malaysia’s position in the FIFA rankings began to decline.

Netto said international observers are baffled as to why Malaysian football is in the doldrums, even though the secretary-general’s management spirit was considered world-class when the downturn hit. said.

He pointed out that the 1950s subculture that produced the men was already in decline by the time they exhibited their vintage in national, regional, and continental organizations.

Netto said the main characteristics of the subculture are an educational system that uses English as the medium of instruction and a school education that emphasizes academic achievement alongside extracurricular classes.

“This system was underpinned by an ethos that never lost sight of the fact that certain pursuits should be pursued for their intrinsic satisfaction rather than their extrinsic rewards.

“As this trio of top administrators reached the height of their capabilities, all these functions began to be forgotten from our country’s environment,” he said.

Netto said a social engineering process was underway in the country, which negatively affected all aspects of the national effort. Against this backdrop of decline, Paul, Visi and Edmund stood tall, he said.

Edmund was said to be capable of officiating the Masters at Augusta National, Visi was credited with the world hockey organization, and Paul could have managed FIFA.

During a review visit to FAM in the early 1990s, then FIFA Secretary-General Sepp Blatter declared the national body to be one of the best run in the world. Paul was the general secretary at the time.

Netto said when Paul left his FAM post in mid-2000, the state agency had cash deposits of RM5 million and fixed assets of RM100 million.

“When I took up this post in 1984, the corresponding figures were RM500,000 and RM5 million. It was based on the highest probability,” he said.

Netto said he considers himself blessed to have watched all three men in their prime during his 32-year career as a sportswriter (1975-2007). “Watching them work was a joy in itself. But more than a joy, it was a learning experience.

“Of the three of us, what I found most helpful in observing Paul was his breadth of vision, depth of understanding, and more importantly, his generosity of spirit. is.”

Paul died of Parkinson’s disease in 2016, approaching the age of 72, and Edmund died of cancer in 1997 at the age of 62.

The Olympic rings at the gate of G Vijayanathan’s home are a symbol of his nine Olympic adventures. (G Vijayanathan photo)

Vijayanathan turned 91 on November 7 and will be one of the oldest guests at the FMT-supported Sports Frame reunion of over 100 sports legends to be held at Kuala Lumpur’s Concorde Hotel on December 9. Become a person.

Netto says, “Our lives are like blinks of an eye, but when you have what Vij exudes, what Edmund embodies, what Paul embodies, they become little diamonds in the cosmic sand. You get it.”

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