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Not yet a STAR but learn to deal with it too

"I didn't make him a star, the media did!" refuted a coach recently when asked about the less-than-desirable performance by his "star" player after another defeat to his team. How true that statement was as a matter of fact it's only when a player who performed consistently well enough and therefore being mentioned in the media.

(Picture) ex-Sengkang coach Jorg Steinnebrunner with the media after their season opener

As this player continued to maintain his good form and help his team to gain victory after victory, it's inevitable that the public would want to know more about him and his life outside football. So this is perhaps how the love-hate relationship between footballers and media developed. Use it wisely not only it helps to lift up the profile and image of that particular player but having it works against you, the press pack will be the last person one would want to see. One classical example would be former national left-winger Lee Man Hon (P.S: Nothing personal here, just using his case as a case study). When the then 19-year-old left-footer made his presence in the "Dream Team" of the Malaysia Cup days, his impact was immediately felt in that team that boasted the likes of established stars like Fandi Ahmad, Abbas Saad, etc.

(Picture) Was Man Hon "killed" by the unnecessary media attention then?

Furthermore, being a natural left-footer playing on the left flank had solved one of the perennial headaches of the national coach then, coupled with the fact that being one of few ethnic Chinese players who always had that boyish grin on his face, it's not surprising to see Man Hon became a media darling then. Sadly though, the former SAFFC, ex-Tanjong Pagar United winger found the fame and attention too much to handle, gradually saw him bowed out of the game due to injuries and that weight issues that been dogged him since his enlistment to national service (remember that infamous TNP frontpage that depicted a bloated Man Hon who was just enlisted?).

(Picture) One undeniable fact - the team and media must work hand-in-hand despite the differences

This is why we see how delicate and difficult the balancing act is of the relationship between the two parties as mentioned earlier. So what can we learn from this and ensure our younger generation from getting tangled in the web of mess? Frankly, neither do I have a solution. However, having these budding footballers engage in such media engagement is not totally an evil thing at all. At least, they'll be trained on how to deal with the press at an early age as part of a character-building process, rather than being a "late-boomer" who might stammer when talking in public.

(Picture) Fury's coach Ian Ferguson claimed he was misquoted when asked about Robbie Fowler's status weeks ago

Although, some measures need to be taken care of to avoid spilling the beans and not to be misquoted on certain issues (remember NQLD Fury's coach Ian Ferguson had to come out and set the record straight after speculation went wild that marquee Robbie Fowler might not be playing against Tampines Rover during their visit here weeks ago?).

(Picture) Darby: We miss him, don't we?

At the end of the day, I feel that to revive the waning interest of the league not just depend on improving the quality of play but also how crucial we have some colourful characters to spice up the interest like R Vengadasalam and Steve Darby (above) in the yesteryear to Brunei DPMM's coach Vjeran Simunic in the current season. Although at this stage a lot of the guys tend to be discreet in what they say in the public, if not like what Darby used to say: "I'm not sure am I gonna be FINE if I said this."


  1. It is always a delicate balancing act, as you have put it. As the saying goes, the pen (or given the tech context, keyboard) is mightier than the sword.

    The main thing for the media to work the way they do is to attract the attention of the public on the topic or theme they are touching on. Thus it is important for the media to be the accountability link between the public figures and the rest.

    As much as people see what is happening in front of their eyes, it is ultimately words that help shape their thinking and formulate their opinions, original or otherwise. Because people will remember more on what they read rather than what they see.

    Hence, in this case, the clubs, players, coaches, officials and other relevant authorities all play important roles in ensuring how the media will protray them as they are. It is very easy when everything appears to be very positive and good, no problems.

    The real challenge comes when there is something uncomfortable that needs to be addressed, however minor. The protagonists (or in layman terms, main actors) might want it to be addressed this way, but the media in question realize there is more than meets the eye and feel they have a duty to confront it. What are the media going to do? Follow the party line? Act according to conscience? These are but a few questions that need answers from within and without whilst they do their duties.

    At the end of the day, the media can only do this much. The suggestions you have proposed, such as media training from young, are a positive start, but it takes a lot more from the main people involved to ensure that the media and the other parties will eventually get into a win-win situation for all.

    P.S. Keep up the good work on your blog, Pohui. It now has much more substance, depth and content in recent entries. Continue to seek to improve from the high standard of coverage to go to another level. :)


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