Failure, if not addressed immediately, can be habit forming. It leads us to more failure and, ultimately, total ruin. Malaysian football is in that parlous state. We had it all and we have it all, but riches which are not utilised properly still render us paupers in world football. Today, we are obsessed with all the wrong things.
Sports is all about fairness, honesty, pride and passion. Fifty years after independence we are deluding ourselevs into giving excuses for failure. All the rhetoric and promises cannot hide the fact that, after 50 years of nationhood, we are still grappling to deal with certain realities. Nothing puts it in better focus than the game which was the very soul of the nation until its decline 20 years ago.
Today, we pay scant attention the Malaysia Cup and other local competitions. We have all been converted to the English Premier League, ardent devotees of a football religion practised thousands of miles away.
The fault is in our changing perpectives and values and misguided social dogmas which have strayed drastically off the straight and narrow of tolerance and acceptance which once made Malaysian football great. There is no need for insightful soul-searching or recriminations.
The problem, if we only choose to see it with 2020 vision, is in our changing attitudes. The cloud over the game is that of bigotry and hypocrsiy, the refusal to accept the reality of the situation.
There can be no quotas in sports. Only the best will do and most nations recognise this immutable fact. Malaysian football lost its lustre two decades ago and we are still trying to fool ourselves that we can polish dull granite into diamonds.
Just look around you. We no longer have teams worthy of total support like Man United, Liverpool or Arsenal. We. no longer have star players who appeal to youngsters. We no longer have a national team of substance. If we are brutally honest we would recognise that our professional league are nothing more than a social outing - a kickabout with players of scant talent. There is no urgency, no drive, no zest, no belief. Most damning of all, there is no passion.
The game is in a state of chaos governed by an association leading by disassociation. The inertia is suffocating. The states are doing their own thing, which ususally is nothing. The clubs are doing their own thing, which usually is nothing. And the schools are doing their own thing, which is, again,, nothing. All that nothing is telling on the game.
The only way to remedy the situation is by admitting our faults. That football has been victim to human vulnerability. That we have lost sight of the game and its needs in pursuing personal objectives driven by nationalistic and political motives.
That the game is no longer the glue that binds the nation. That there is no production line of talent simply because kids in the neighbourhood no longer kick the ball around together with common intent and a sense of camaraderie.
That the mould that produced the likes of Mokhtar Dahair, Soh Chin Aun and M. Chandran is well and truely broken. The sense of loss is acute. While Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia are talking positively of qualfying for the World Cup, we are still sifting through the ashes of past glories.
Our recent showings are typical of the least productive sequence of results for a quarter of a century. We are routinely losing to nations without any soccer capital, like the Maldives and Sri Lanka and offering the same pathetic excuses for those humiliations.
Unfortunately, the statistics don't lie. They expose the barren landscape of Malaysian football more than the sun bleached skulls of the Pol Pot's killing fields. It is a depressing scenario. yet, besides the usual diatribe, there is no firm policy or philosopy on hand to rescue the game from the dire straits it has been steered into by careless and incompetent stewardship.
The FA of Malaysia stands guilty of being incompetent and are practising disconcerting indifference which is central to the game's decline. They have compromsed on quality and talent creation to appease the treacherous demands of racial mores.
We had, as nation, a head start on most Western countries where it came to learning about racial tolerance and living together in harmony. In fact, we had a good 800 or more years to learn and we did but we have thrown it all away.
So now we watch and marvel at how whites and blacks embrace each other withourt inhibition or pretence on the football field. We hardly see such open integration and brotherhood on our soccer pitches anymore.
Nine of the starting 11 in the French national team are black. Most of the other European teams also have coloured players in their national teams, even Germany.
Our teams propagate disintegration even as the government encourages integration. It is the power of performance which instils confidence and thereby drives results. That is unlikely to happen until we once again have the best players, irregardleess of ethnicity, playing for the country.
The truth is we have regressed. Without equality, without integration, without tearing down the walls of distrust we have built between the races, we have no hope of rejuvenating our national game.
Football is all about disregarding colour and creed. That is why it is called the beautiful game. That game has grown ugly in Malaysia because we have brought racial divides into the sport. Just ask the former greats who they will tell you why we were once great.
There really can be no solution to this malaise until we accept and understand our faults. We can no longer afford to gloss over our deficiencies. There is a need to correct the weaknesses which have been allowed to become a prolonged and debilitating malaise.
The cycle of failure, once embarked upon, is not easily counteracted and, in consequence, success is made so much harder to revive. It becomes a habit. There is an urgent need for a different perspective. We need to create excitement in the game again.
We need all the races to start playing the game again. We players who want to pursue their ambitions beyond the local leagues. We need ambition, but above all we need that spirit of brotherhood and patriotism over-riding all other inane dogmas.
We need a reality check - a brutally honest one. Unless something is done to jolt the powers that be out of their stupor and come to grips with of the realities, we will continue to live in the past.
Otherwise, 50 years into nationhood we will be living a lie which will destroy whatever semblance of the game we have left. Malaysian football has become the worst thing a sport can become - something to be endured rather than enjoyed.
It has run out of credit and into serious overdraft. It has lost all its credibity and become something to be vilified. It is time for us to say enough to all the platitudes and evasions if the game is to have any hope. Enough of the ridiculous slogans and empty rhetoric - just get honest and get on with it.
Let the revolution begin.