Penang FA’s Shazlee: How local footballers will benefit from TMJ’s leadership

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Photo Credit: Zimbio

It’s hard to believe that it has only been one week since Tunku Ismail ibni Sultan Ibrahim officially took over Football Association of Malaysia. Multiple decisions and changes have made over the last eight days, including the sacking of 20 staffs at Wisma FAM, in a bit to restructure the entire organization.

At the same time, the Johor Crown Prince even managed to reveal that his long-term goal for Malaysian football is to get Harimau Malaya into the 2026 FIFA World Cup, which is set to be expanded to 48 teams. Are you feeling the spine-tingling sense of excitement yet?

The grand expansion and evolution of Malaysian football seems to be the central theme of his newly-constructed vision, but there’s another portion of it that seems to have caused radiant ecstasy amongst local footballers. We spoke to Penang FA’s Shazlee Ramlee over the weekend and the Australian-born player beamed with excitement when TMJ’s name was brought up during the conversation.

“It’s a huge, huge boost for players, really. I can understand why everyone is getting excited about him taking over Malaysian football, but for players, it’s also about the professional structure, really.

“I’ve seen in the news that he’s going to make life more difficult for teams who don’t pay wages on time. That’s absolutely brilliant. It’s exactly the sort of culture Malaysian football needs and deserves. Makes it easier for players to focus on football and developing themselves as footballers.

Shazlee spent a large chunk of his formative years as a footballer with Perth Glory’s youth set-up in Australia before opting to activate his Malaysian citizenship and move to the realms of Malaysian football. It turned out to be a move that didn’t only introduce him to TMJ, but also the wider scope of problems faced by footballers within the country.

“I remember meeting TMJ when I first signed for JDT II. He had this intimidating presence about him, but at the end of the day, he struck me as a reasonable person, even in terms of what he expected of us as players.

“And it doesn’t take much to realize the impact he has had on JDT. The working culture at the club is excellent. Now, we’ll hopefully get to see it at a bigger level. If you look at the top two divisions in Malaysian football today, there’s only a handful of teams that pay wages on time. It now appears that TMJ could potentially change that, which is good.

“I’ve heard of stories about Malaysian footballers working part-time on the weekends to support their family. How do you expect a footballer to be fully focused on his development, if he has to consistently worry about money? So I’m glad that TMJ is ready to tackle this issue head on,” Shazlee concluded.

What are your thoughts on Shazlee’s opinion? Let us know by commenting below!