Piala Dollah Kassim 2011 Final Review…

“WE DID IT!!!”

These three words summed up all the emotions the Mediacorp Suria team felt when the referee blew the final whistle to signal the end of a pulsating final and subsequently this year’s edition of the Piala Dollah Kassim tournament, played at the Woodlands Stadium this past Sunday evening. This victory was made sweeter because as compared to last year’s team which had several friendly matches to play prior to last year’s tournament,  the whole team (those retained from last year as well as the newbies this year) only came together a week before the tournament began, whereas some teams had already begun training before Ramadhan came along. We were short of match fitness, cohesiveness and understanding on the pitch and this was evident in our two friendly matches prior to the tournament kick-off, which we drew and lost. More evidently, when we had a three-week break between the  last qualifying game and the Final last week, we could not get any friendly matches to play to sharpen up our game.

Miracle or not, perhaps it was our destiny to win this year. Whatever we lacked on the pitch, we made up for it with relentless self-belief, team spirit, a collective sense of brotherhood where there is no particular star player in the team (even though the team was sprinkling with local celebrities) and most importantly we had a mental resolve and never-say-die attitude which were hallmarks that made us this year’s champions. Five times we conceded throughout the course of this year’s tournament (three in the first game, one each in the third and Final games), but we came back to equalise and salvage our matches, and winning the Final in the process. Victory was all the more sweet because we had no S-League nor ex-international players playing for our team, because this team respects the essence and sanctity of this tournament, which is a charity event first and foremost.

Stepping foot at Woodlands Stadium brought a sense of nostalgia to myself and perhaps my family members who came to watch the match as well. This was the very venue that most of us last saw Allahyarham Uncle Dollah in action for a charity game called “Charity Football Fiesta“, between local celebrities and ex-international footballers back in February 2009. I’m sure my team-mates Taufiq Salleh and captain Syed Azmir, would remember that game as they were in the same team as Uncle Dollah. Before the match began and our team was seen huddling together for quite some time, prompting the emcees to say we were saying our prayers for good luck, they were actually half right. We did say our prayers but not for good luck.  In fact, I was extremely touched by Syed Azmir‘s kind gesture to lead the team in reciting Surah Al-Fatehah for the soul of Allahyarham Uncle Dollah. It might be a small and trivial gesture to some, but as Uncle Dollah‘s nephew and observing from a neutral perspective, it left an indelible impression on me that my team captain is a man of substance and led by example.

The team appeared relaxed prior to the game but most of us were nervous…

The game itself was a like a game of chess in the first half with both sides probing and calculative with every move made. Conditions did not help by the downpour before the game, which rendered the pitch muddy on most parts. The game had to be stopped halfway in the first half as the heavy downpour and lightning prevented us from continuing, which of course delayed the match further. The tempo only picked up in the second half when PERKAMUS scored their first goal within ten minutes after the start. I was beaten by an extremely good goal by Muhammad Farouq, even though I had dived full stretch and gotten my hands to the ball. Maybe ten years ago when I was younger, slimmer and more agile, I could have prevented it from going in. We could have easily been deflated but again as this tournament had witnessed, we came back strongly to equalise through Raja Razie and scoring the winner through Syed Azmir, capitalising on individual errors made by our strong opponents who had been controlling much of the game, while we were contented to sit back and soaked as much as we could from their forays into our area, before counter-attacking them.

Personally I am thankful that we won because it now gives me the opportunity to speak my mind about the tournament from a winning position. It is something I have been keeping inside for one whole year since the last tournament and one which I said in my earlier entries that I would voice out on a later date. The time has finally come to speak my mind. If I were to begin my rant from a losing perspective, it would be easy to condemn me as being sour grapes. While I am eternally thankful to the organiser of this tournament, PERKAMUS, for organising this charity football event by honouring my late uncle, as well as their noble efforts to bring together the media and entertainment industry in Singapore for a good cause, certain things need to be re-evaluated if they were to organise this event again in the coming years ahead. Just because Mediacorp Suria has won, does not mean certain problems and unhappiness felt by the other teams can be swept under the carpet, be forgotten and repeated all over again the following year.

Number one on the agenda is the interpretation of the tournament rules. There needs to be a clear indicator and spelling out to what can be done and what cannot be done to avoid confusion and discontent amongst teams, players and managements alike. The organiser’s decision to field an S-League player who has represented Gombak United FC, seemed to be a contentious debate throughtout the course of the tournament. When queried by the other teams, the organiser said this player’s contract with his club ended on 3 October 2011, but his Facebook profile currently states that he is a part-time footballer with Gombak United FC. Whether his contract ended then or whether he is a part-time footballer, the fact remains that he is still affiliated to a professionally-run club playing in Singapore‘s premier division and no professional club is going to take a player who does not meet their basic prerequisites, qualities that set a professional player apart from those playing amateur or social football.

The team celebrating captain Syed Azmir‘s winning goal…

Between last year’s tournament and this year’s, he had played professional football for an S-League team, so that makes him a professional player, part-time or not. It certainly left a sour taste after last year’s Final which we lost, knowing we were beaten by the presence of a professional league player who had scored twice that night. From my understanding, tournament rules stated that no player is to play for any club team in Singapore. This is a CHARITY tournament afterall, a team does not need to field professional standard players nor ex-internationals in their team to add colour to the competition nor to aid their competitive cause. There are already enough local celebrities and media personalities to make up the tournament, with invited players of amateur or social footballing background adding on to the numbers. Even more surprising were the mysterious appearances of one or two other players, who from my own personal observations, suddenly appeared in the Final but not the qualifying rounds.

I want to go on record and say I am not implying nor  accusing the organiser of cheating, never have and never intended to make it that way, even if I sound as though I am doing so. There will always be loopholes in the rules which any team can take advantage of, and they did so because the player’s contract with his club was apparently up. However, in the interest of competitive fairness and spirit of sportsmanship, I feel and I’m sure many others felt that it is  just not right, because you tend to wonder where is the level playing field when you pit professional standard players against amateurs and social footballers like us in a charity tournament??? You can argue that it is just one player and that one player does not make a team, but if this player is your team’s star and eventual tournament’s top goalscorer, it says a hell lot about his technical abilities on the pitch. Hence why the rules need to be spelt out clearly to avoid unhappiness and misunderstandings.

Our team could have taken a leaf out of the organiser’s book and invited the likes of Baihakki Khaizan (who is currently without a club) or Aide Iskandar (ex-national team captain who has had his fair share of acting stint on television) to turn out for us, but we chose not to as we respect the tournament as it is and do not see the need to make the other teams unhappy. The other teams had protested and rightly so. Personally for myself being a part of Allahyarham Uncle Dollah‘s family, I worried for the intrinsic value of this tournament as it was used in his name. The family had kindly given their blessings for this tournament to be held, it would be nice if they were also informed of the rules governing it and not just a summary of the tournament’s progress. In future if this tournament is to be held, contentious and ambiguous issues like these need to be discussed and agreed upon by all teams, counter-checked by independent sources for transparency sake and approved jointly by the organiser and the family.

Coronation time and scenes of jubilation, as Syed Azmir lifted the trophy …

All teams should also stick to the original squad of 22 that they had registered at the start of the tournament. Any changes in terms of personnel, need to be informed to all teams so that they understand why certain players suddenly appear towards the end of the tournament, when at the start they were not seen. I can understand that perhaps some players are only available on certain dates, but basic courtesy on informing still needs to be observed as a mark of respect to all teams, even if this is a charity tournament. You cannot have players appearing for one or two games disappear and have other stop-gap replacements without informing the other teams, especially if the replacements are players considered more talented and skillful. This creates resentment as to why most teams adhere to the rules while some are able to capitalise on loopholes. We would have gladly lost the tournament with pride if teams did not field players of high calibre and stature, because we know deep in our hearts, we’ve done our bit for charity and knowing we lost to players of the same amateur standard as us. Anyway our community is small, one way or another we know each other and the other person’s footballing background. Hence the need for transparency.

Another peeve that I need to bring up were the emcees of the event. We know that one of them is part of the organising team, but that should not make some of their presentation extremely bias towards their own team. A standard complaint I heard from people who were at the stadium, was that they were simply annoying and I could not agree more. The players were distracted somewhat by the irrelevant commentary by the sidelines, notably in the first half. In future, it would be best to engage emcees who know what the game is all about, who know how to differentiate between a free-kick and a penalty kick, who do not incite the opposing team by saying their players were feigning injury and acting when it was all clear to see that the injured player had his legs taken away and the offending player yellow-carded in the process. Oh not to mention, speaking in good English as well, sans grammatical errors. As an emcee, one needs to be professional, non-partisan, have some knowledge on what they are presenting and of course fluent in the language that they are speaking in.

What irked me the most was when the emcees were interviewing the Youth Olympic Team‘s football players and voicing their disapproval towards the Sports Foreign Talent Scheme. We all have our own sets of agreements or disagreements on the matter and the topic is extremely subjective in my opinion, but when you choose to disagree vehemently, do not speak in your mother tongue when before that, you had been speaking in English throughout. It is not fair to the non-Malay speaking spectators as they do not understand what was being said and it felt as though it was being made a personal conversation to spite them. Certain ethics need to be observed when presenting, you cannot just speak your mind just because the microphone is in your hands. I was just glad when informed after the game, that my young daughter had the presence of mind to march up to one of them and told them to hush and respect the time as it was Maghrib. At least the second half was a bit quieter and the players on both sides lifted their game as they could concentrate better.

The team celebrating victoriously with the trophy in hand…

Other than the three grievances I aired, I still believe and share the sentiment that PERKAMUS did a stellar job in organising this tournament once again, with the public more aware of its existence and with the increase in the number of kind sponsors supporting the event. This is also evident in the number of personalities who have come forward to be a part of this tournament. To get Woodlands Stadium to fill two-thirds of its grandstand capacity on a day it rained, was an achievement of sorts and one they could be proud of. Hopefully their noble efforts in getting proceeds for Jamiyah’s Darul Ma’wa Children’s Home will be rewarded in kind by Allah Almighty, as well as those who had come forward to support the event in cash and kind. For the record, Berita Harian beat Dramatis 9-1 in the third and fourth-placed match played in good-hearted fashion and humour enjoyed by everyone watching.

Personally it was a satisfying experience for me having gone through the heartache and disappointment of losing last year’s Final, having clawed our way back to 2-2 after being 0-2 down at the break, and losing with four minutes to spare. For amateurs like us who can only dream of playing in front of a packed audience, this was the closest we could get to experiencing playing in such a setting. Having players you respected when you were young and watched them play in the Malaysia Cup, watching you in the stands like Hasnim Haron and Syed Faruk Alkaff amongst others, was simply inspirational and lifted my confidence somewhat. I was just fortunate that aside from the goal I conceded, everything went my way because I am often prone to the odd gaffe on the pitch. It helped that the whole team worked hard for each other and continued encouraging and cajoling one another when our opponents led the game.

To the whole Mediacorp Suria team – Syed Azmir (captain), Mohd Fazlan, Miur Rafik, Ikhsan, Mohd Idris, Kassim Jamid, Abdul Mutalib, Raja Razie, Idros Jamid, Rafaat Hamzah, Khairul Ruzaini, Razif Ariff, Shahril Kahar, Shahril Wahid, Fadhlur Rahman, Muhd Dzar, Taufiq Salleh, Effandy Idris, Firdaus Salleh, Aidil Jufri and Fauzie Laily – It was an extreme honour to be on the pitch with you guys as we finally brought the trophy home for the very first time. We might have only played together for six games in total (including our two friendly games), but the spirit and camaraderie we forged was something I would remember and treasure for a long time to come. To manager Ishak Jamid, thank you for inviting me to keep goal for the team and representing my family in the process. To the supporters, especially our family members, who had shouted themselves hoarse last Sunday, this win is dedicated to each and everyone of you. Enjoy the video highlights of the Final match!!!

 

P.S. All photographs are courtesy of Mediacorp Suria

Piala Dollah Kassim 2011 Final Preview…

(Graphics poster courtesy of Mediacorp Suria)

I know this blog has not been updated for about a month now and I make no apologies as I have not been attending any entertainment-related events of late. After three gruelling round of qualifying matches in this year’s Piala Dollah Kassim 2011 tournament, we have finally come to tomorrow’s penultimate game, a repeat of last year’s Final. Last year, Mediacorp Suria narrowly lost the game 2-3, conceding the third goal with four minutes to spare, after brilliantly coming back to equalise, having gone into the half-time break 0-2 down. You can be sure that Mediacorp Suria will put up a gallant fight tomorrow to dethrone the defending champions.

We have a better team as compared to last year, with all due respect to the rest who played, and it is up to us now to prove that we can do one better than them. Let’s hope that tomorrow’s game will be a clean fight, with no petty fights and no overzealous tackles being dished out. Our first qualifying game with them last month and the Final last year were matches that gave the spectators feasts of goals, and tomorrow’s game promises to continue that trend. So if you have nothing on, please do come down to Woodlands Stadium and witness the champion of Piala Dollah Kassim 2011 being crowned. In the meantime, enjoy the overdue highlights of the last qualifying match between Mediacorp Suria & Berita Harian on 23 October 2011

Piala Dollah Kassim 2011 Qualifying Match – Mediacorp Suria vs Dramatis…

The second round of qualifying matches in this year’s Piala Dollah Kassim 2011 tournament was played last Sunday at the Singapore Polytechnic Sports Complex. The first match between defending champions PERKAMUS and Berita Harian ended in a 0-0 stalemate. Berita Harian, the champions in the first two editions of the tournament but a disappointment in the last one, have shown they are the dark horses that could upset the favourites tag currently being held by PERKAMUS and Mediacorp Suria. Definitely this  coming Sunday‘s tie between them and Mediacorp Suria will decide who would enter the Grand Final on 20 November 2011, as PERKAMUS is expected to win by a cricket score against the Dramatis team, with all due respect to this humble outfit. As the table stands at the moment, Mediacorp Suria is sharing top spot with Berita Harian on 4 points each but with a better goal difference.

The second match played between Mediacorp Suria and Dramatis last Sunday ended with a score of 7-1, in favour of the former. Berita Harian had misreported the final score as 6-1 in their publication yesterday, but it could have been a slight error on their part. Syed Azmir, captain of Mediacorp Suria and last year’s Golden Boot winner, finally got his tournament going with a hat-trick scored in the space of 15 minutes in the first half. Two goals apiece by Raja Razie and Firdaus Salleh have now elevated them to three goals in the tournament, sharing the same number of goals scored as Syed Azmir and Shahrin Azhar from the Dramatis team, when he notched a hat-trick in the 3-8 defeat to Berita Harian the previous week.

Speaking of Shahrin Azhar, I hope he does not take my video highlights the wrong way. The segment where he stormed off the pitch, seemingly unhappy with the referee’s decisions and then retaliating against a rowdy spectator, could in one way, show the negative side of him. But artistes are normal human beings too. You see amateur and professional players retaliating against each other, against the referee for what they deem as biased decisions. Even professional players retaliate against the crowd when their heckling gets a bit too much. No, I do not condone Shahrin‘s retaliation towards that spectator, but I hope those who watched would understand why as a normal human being, he did what he did and would more or less sympathise. This is a charity tournament afterall, that kind of heckling by the watching spectator had no place in the stands, depicting how uncivilised some people can be, and only served to add fuel to the fire already raging inside. Thankfully common sense prevailed and nothing serious happened afterwards. My respect for Shahrin has not diminished because of this episode.

This Sunday‘s last round of qualifying matches will be an exciting affair between Berita Harian and Mediacorp Suria. That match will kick off at 3pm whilst the Dramatis and PERKAMUS teams will face off at 5pm. Goals galore is expected so head down to Singapore Polytechnic Sports Complex if you have nothing on that day. In the meantime, enjoy the video highlights…

P.S. Graphics and photographs are courtesy of Mediacorp Suria

Piala Dollah Kassim 2011 Qualifying Match – Mediacorp Suria vs PERKAMUS…

The tournament has finally kicked off in earnest this past Sunday afternoon at the Singapore Polytechnic Sports Complex with the first round of matches played. The first match between Berita Harian and Dramatis was a high-scoring affair with the former coming away 8-3 winners. Though I did not watch the whole match, from what I heard, Berita Harian raced to a 6-1 lead at half-time and eased off during the second half. All three goals scored by the Dramatis team were courtesy of actor-host Shahrin Azhar, a feat not lost on Mediacorp Suria, and a player who will be given extra attention when facing the Dramatis team this coming Sunday.

The Mediacorp Suria team… 

The second match, which I was involved in, was another high-scoring affair with Mediacorp Suria and defending champions, PERKAMUS, sharing the spoils with the scoreline of 3-3. The match was end-to-end stuff with both sides not relenting. Thrice Mediacorp Suria conceded, only to pick ourselves up and grabbed equalisers for every goal PERKAMUS scored, with Raja Razie‘s free-kick goal, the pick of the six goals scored during the match. The match had its robust moments given the nature of the competitiveness between both sides. The flashpoint of the robustness being the two-footed challenge dished out in the second half by PERKAMUS‘ captain, Jeff Catz, who was promptly given his marching orders, but generally the game was played in good spirits, with no heated moments of note.

The PERKAMUS team… 

Even when I was crudely tackled by one of their strikers towards the end of the match, I felt that it was inevitable as it was a 50-50 challenge, though it has to be said the referee should have given me more protection being the goalkeeper and advantage was supposed to be on my side. The only downside is that the injury sustained to my thigh has put me in doubt to play this coming Sunday. I have been doing thirty laps in the pool religiously for the past three nights to aid my therapy, so God willing I would be fine by then. There is still some pain when I press against my thigh and the bruise marks are still there, so it’s touch and go at the moment.

Even though I said the match was played in good spirits, the ugly aspect of the tournament which I had been unhappy about since last year, reared its ugly head again. Due to confidentiality issues, I will not state what it is till a later date. I am just surprised that the defending champions this year are much different in terms of personnel, as compared to the last where they had more singers and musicians in their line-up. This year, I only recognise Jeff Catz, Iskandar R. Ismail (Eiss) and Aan from Knightwings (Anugerah Band 2008). There might be others in the team whom I do not recognise, thanks in part to my probable ignorance to the local band scene, but those three I mentioned were the standouts, other than ex-international Nasiruddin Sawardi and their team manager Art Fazil.

This Sunday, the first match at 3pm will pit Berita Harian against PERKAMUS and the latter match at 5pm between Mediacorp Suria and Dramatis. Again, all matches will be played at the Singapore Polytechnic Sports Complex. All graphics and photographs included in this entry are courtesy of Mediacorp Suria. Enjoy the highlights video of the match between Mediacorp Suria and PERKAMUS which my wife had kindly taken that day…

Official Launch of Piala Dollah Kassim 2011…

It’s back once again!!! Piala Dollah Kassim, a charity football tournament involving the local Malay media and television personalities, which was successfully held last year, makes its return again this year. Now into its fourth edition since it was first conceived and incepted in 2002, the tournament this year has broken the norm of previous years’ editions in having it a year after the last one. Previously the tournament was held once every two years, with a gap of six years between the first and the second editions. I believe due to the success and support from last year’s tournament, especially the Grand Final where two thousand-odd people witnessed it at Yishun Stadium, it is only natural that it has been changed to an annual affair. But for how long it will remain that way, it’s up to the organisers, PERKAMUS, who have worked hard to make it happen again this year. For that, they deserve every pat on the back they get.

The coveted trophy…

This year’s event is probably an emotional one for myself and of course the family of Allahyarham Uncle Dollah. Regular readers of this blog would know by now the family ties that we share as his wife and my mother are sisters. This will be the first time the event is held without him around anymore. Even when he was in a state of coma and bedridden last year, I felt his presence and spirit cheering me on from the stands when I played for the Mediacorp Suria team as its goalkeeper. There were good and bad memories from last year’s tournament, the good of course being able to play in front of a near capacity crowd and the bad, well I’ll just leave it as that, but I tend to take positives out of the few bad ones. This year, I will reprise my role as the team’s custodian once again. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Mediacorp Suria for placing their faith in me and it is an absolute honour to represent my family and play in the tournament again.

The launch was hosted by Rosley Jimaen and Deanna Manto

Once again the tournament will be a four-cornered fight between Berita Harian, Dramatis, Mediacorp Suria and the organisers as well as the defending champions themselves, PERKAMUS. The draw to determine the respective match fixtures was recently held at the rooftop of the Singapore Press Holdings‘ building on 25th September 2011. Representatives and several players from the respective teams graced the occasion, not forgetting the various kind sponsors of the event. This year, the beneficiary organisation who will receive the proceeds from the event will be Darul Ma’wa Children’s Home. Several side-events and carnival have been lined up during the days of the qualifying matches and these are kindly organised by the good people of Bikers’ Aid International, a professional fundraiser and charity organising management consisting of 40 motor clubs with mixed races and genders from 3000 motorcycles members here in Singapore and Malaysia.

Cikgu Yusnor Ef with the opening speech…

Though I will not delve much on what happened during the launch per se, it was heartening to hear the President of PERKAMUS, Cikgu Yusnor Ef, appealing to other organisers of football-related events not to misuse the good name of Uncle Dollah and also to seek his family’s approval before using his name for their respective events. I’m sure older readers of this blog would remember how I went on a ranting spree last year, when some irresponsible people came up with the idea of having a football academy using Uncle Dollah‘s name without seeking his family’s approval. And it was just last week that our family found out that a football competition organised in Tampines also used his name without seeking prior approval. We’re not trying to be high-handed, but I’m sure nobody likes others to use one’s own family members’ names without first seeking permission. Like what Cikgu Yusnor said, “Do not misuse his name to the point that it becomes devalued and cheap…” As a family, we do not want Uncle Dollah‘s name to be used by any organisation for their own benefits. Uncle Dollah was a generous man, any event organiser that uses his name in future should take note that any proceeds from their event, must go to a charity organisation. Over the years, the family has been working closely and have absolute trust in PERKAMUS, because they have been doing the right thing.

Uncle Dollah‘s son, Ezaad, urged all players to check their fitness and health before taking onto the pitch so as to prevent a similar occurence of what happened to Uncle Dollah back on 4th Oct 2009.

I do not know who will be playing in the other teams, other than Nick Mikhail, Izzat Yusoff, Amy Kecik, Khairudin Samsudin, Faizal Ramli amongst others, playing for the Dramatis team and Jeff Catz for PERKAMUS. But I’m quite confident that our Mediacorp Suria team, with the injection of new players from the Anugerah Skrin 2010 competition, and retaining half of those who represented the team last year, will try and give the defending champions a run for their money. This year Mediacorp Suria will be represented by renowned television personalities Rafaat Hamzah, Fauzie Laily, Syed Azmir (captain), Shahril Wahid, Effandy Idris and the Anugerah Skrin 2010 alumnus like Shahril Kahar, Aidil Jufri, Mohd Idris Jamin, Raja Razie and Muhd Dzar. We also welcome into our team the likes of actors-hosts Fadhlur Rahman and Taufiq Salleh, who represented the Dramatis team in last year’s tournament, as well as Khairul Ruzaini (the son of actor Jasmani Basri), and Razif Ariff, who are both part-time actors themselves. In short, this tournament is sprinkling with stars all in the name of charity.

The fixture list…

All qualifying matches will be played at the Singapore Polytechnic stadium on three consecutive Sundays, beginning 9th October 2011. The first match will kick off at 3pm with Berita Harian facing off with the Dramatis team. Mediacorp Suria will play against PERKAMUS at 5pm. The 3rd and 4th placing match as well as the Grand Finals will be held on 20th November 2011 at the Woodlands Stadium. Admission to all the matches is free. So if you do not have anything to do for the next three Sundays, do come down and support your local personalities and also help to do your part for charity. See you there!!!

May the best team wins!!!

From left: Jeff Catz (PERKAMUS), Syed Azmir (Mediacorp Suria), Art Fazil (PERKAMUS), Jasmi Ahmad (Dramatis) and Farid Hamzah (Berita Harian)…

How to get there… (Click on the map to enlarge it)