by Azly Rahman
I don't know how to title this column on the Penang football player, Mohd Faiz Subri. but I do hope he reads this. Being a former recreation football player myself and growing up playing this beautiful game in Johor, in Pahang, and later in the States, I must comment on his ability to speak English, on what he wore that night in Zurich, and whether he should be put on a ‘pedestal’.
Above all, what does his recognition mean to any football player, and not just Malaysians busy claiming or disclaiming his victory.
Faiz, you did us very proud. You worked hard for it. It is no sheer luck. I don’t know how many thousands of hours you put into perfecting that magical mystical physics-defying curved ball kick you put in, but that was an amazing one, you earned your place as the best player with the world’s best kick for 2016.
Which child, whether in Brazil, Portugal, Argentina, Columbia, Germany, China, or even Malaysia where you hail from would not have dreamt of being awarded such a trophy by Fifa and by Cristiano Ronaldo!
Faiz, you did well with the short speech, though it might have been a bit prepared. But you were caught by surprise. You will do better the next time, I am sure. Your achievement spoke louder than your one-minute chance to say thanks in English. Besides you are not Barack Obama giving a farewell address. Even Obama does not play football/soccer and certainly could not deliver a presidential kick like you did.
So, those criticising you should just chill. Ignore them, but I am sure you’ll be prepared for any more awards ceremony like this. There is always the first time. And your first time is like a man from Penang landing on Mars.
Faiz, as you know it is hilarious to read that people said you wore a ‘cross’ when you in fact wore a bowtie and a microphone. You wore a ‘bow-mike’. That's not a cross. The image made some people cross. Ignore them, teach them how to cross balls and curve them and defy more logic.
Faiz, you ought to be put on a pedestal. You deserved it. There is a perception that the Johor team is a model and ought to be put on a pedestal. I disagree. I think you make the Johor team play better. You should coach the team, especially on free kicks.
Imagine if you could teach each team member of Johor how to kick like you, the team can even be invited to Zurich. Imagine, even if the goalie can do that and every time he starts the game, how many goals can the Johor team get for every game? Hundreds maybe. I don’t know how good the team is now but I suspect it is better than the one when Osman Abdullah was the captain and when Othman Saat was the menteri besar.
I grew up watching the Johor team play. I supported them although they were not good, an average team. I enjoyed walking to the legendary Larkin Stadium back in the day whenever the team plays. Especially with Kelantan. Only with Kelantan will the Johor play tooth and nail because they were traditional rivals.
‘The fans love hating each other’
They hated each other. The fans love hating each other as well. Johor fans, back in the day, would go crazy in the full-packed stadium. Si-Bongkok Tanjung Puteri kind-of-crazy Jalak Lenteng kind-of-crazy. Rock-kapak-Rempit kind of crazy. But they love to blame the referee when they are losing. “REFERI KAYU... REFERI KAYU... REFERI KAYU” (Deadwood Referees 3X) the fans would chant when Johor was losing.
Even the Federal Reserve Unit (FRU) dogs would look as if they too were chanting through their tails. I didn’t like that. One time the referee was chased around by a mad Johor fan carrying the pole from the corner of the field. Somehow, he escaped a barricade and ran into the field.
Then there was chaos in the field when more fans escaped and when they Johor players themselves joined in in the Johor-Kelantan brawl. And then there were threats of burning buses. Threats of flying Kelantanese micro-mini-midget axes (kapok Siam).
There were all kinds of threats for the fans to vent their anger through football. En masse, the anger was about the lives they lived I supposed. Just like the lives of the working class in Britain that translates into mass anger in Wembley Stadium. The revolt of the working class and the masochismo expressed through football.
In Johor back in the day, it was about what the fans could not see - daily dehumanisation of a neo-feudal construction. Projection of fear and anger and blind parochialism. Of ‘we versus them’. Of Johor vs Kelantan in this case, back in the late 70s.
So Faiz, with your now world-class knowledge of the free kick you can contribute not only to the Johor team but also to other Malaysian teams as well. The world voted for you, not just Malaysians. From a kampong boy you have become a great man on TV and in cyberspace. I am sure your act has become viral - as viral as the Gangnam-styled man with a billion hits on his YouTube video.
Yours is an inspiration to others. To the bare-footed-football-loving children of the world in fact. Those wannabe Ronaldo, Messi, Pele, Eusebio, Bobby Charlton, and our own Super Mokh (Mokhtar Dahari).
You don’t need others to judge you as are just a ‘one-hit-wonder’ or whether you are a benchmark for Malaysian football or whether your English-speaking skills should be as good as the Malay-language skills of all Malaysian parliamentarians. Your critics can chill and sit on the bench.
So - bravo, Faiz. Bravo. Your Penang team is now better than any team in Malaysia. You have represented them in a world stage. Enjoy the glory. Share your skills with others. Inspire the young ones to like this beautiful game. The next time you need help in preparing a speech, I’d be glad to help!
Read more: https://www.malaysiakini.com/columns/369009#ixzz4VZKzAY1B