CM: Intensify efforts to unearth young football talents in Sabah

KOTA KINABALU: Efforts must be intensified to unearth young football talents as well as to encourage more youths in Sabah to take up the sports, said Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Haji Hajiji Haji Noor.
“To become a good player, one must start from a young age.I want to see emphasis be given to the development of youths in sports, particularly football.
“Sabah FC is in the best position to provide this platform and ensure our young players are being trained by the best coaches,” he said at the launching of Sabah FC team kit for the Super League new season at Imago here today.
Hajiji was confident that Sabah FC will do well under the leadership of Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Bung Moktar Radin as president of Sabah Football Association (SAFA) together with his management team.
“I believe with commitment and hard work, Sabah FC will be able to rise once again. Move onwards with the right formula and our football standards will soar to a new heights,” said Hajiji.
The Chief Minister also described the inaugural Sabah Maju Jaya (SMJ) Cup that was held at Likas Stadium from February 12 to 18 involving Kedah Darul Aman FC, Kelantan TRW, Sarawak United and the home team as a good initiative.
Besides helping in Sabah FC’s preparation for the new season, the tournament had also provided local football fans the opportunity to see good quality matches as well as enabling players to improve their skills, he said.
Sabah FC under the stewardship of head coach Datuk Ong Kim Swee will be featuring foreign imports from Brazil, Japan, South Korea and Indonesia in their campaign this season.
Also in Sabah FC’s line-up are four current national players – Khairul Fahmi, Dominic Tan, Mohd Rizal Mohd Ghazali and Baddrol Bakhtiar – as well as three ex-Harimau Malaya players Amri Yahyah, Irfan Fazail and Nazirul Naim Che Hashim.
In his pep talk to the state players, Hajiji urged them to always maintain a high level of commitment as well as professionalism during their stint with the team.
“You must have good discipline, always protect the team’s reputation with a high degree of professionalism. By doing so, you will become not just a role model for the younger and future players but place you in a better position (in your career),” he said.
He said Sabah used to be one of the nation’s elite football teams producing so many stars such as Datuk James Wong, Datuk Hasan Sani, Matlan Marjan, Peter Rajah to name a few.
“Therefore, I would like to see Sabah becoming a formidable team once again that is much feared and respected not just at the national level but also in this region,” he said.
On the launching of Sabah FC’s new team kit, Hajiji was happy to note that it has been incorporated with local elements such as the Linangkit and Mount Kinabalu contour, which is an attractive way to generate income through team branding.
Sabah FC has named their home matches’ jerseys as “My Skin” while “Duabelas” is the name of their away jerseys, sponsored by Lotto for the second consecutive year.
He also thanked redONE for coming in as one of the main sponsors this year, as well as others including Sawit Kinabalu, SabahNet, Al-Ikhsan and Qhazanah Sabah Berhad.
Sabah FC Chief Executive Office, Khairul Firdaus Akbar, Sabah FC Director, Dato Dr Jelani Hamdan and Head Coach Datuk Ong Kim Swee were present at the launch.

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