SOCCER AS THE Americans prefer to call it (since football in the United States refers to American football) is losing its footing in Brunei Darussalam, so sad to say.
Back in the 60s, 70s, 80s ending in 1999, Brunei soccer reached its pinnacle when the national team emerged as Malaysia Cup champions for the first time. In the ensuing years after that Golden Year of football for Brunei, the quality of soccer started to wane and deteriorate due to mismanagement of the Brunei Darussalam Football Association (BAFA).
Only after His Royal Highness the Crown Prince’s very own football club team or better-known as DPMM FC got officially established in 2000, was the local footballing standard boosted to a new level again. DPMM FC gradually took over the national team as the country’s representative to regional and international level soccer tournaments including the Malaysian Premier League and more recently the S-League.
However, the BAFA mess worsened which resulted in its deregistration by the country’s Registrar of Societies (ROS) late last year since BAFA had time and time again failed to hold its Annual General Meeting (AGM) and to submit its annual reports as required by law. Thus, the world ruling body of the sport, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), had no choice but to suspend Bruneian football clubs and even the national team from playing in any regional and international soccer competitions, either played locally or abroad.
It is so mediocre and bizarre that such a tragic consequence hit the Bruneian football rock-bottom! 😦 It’s a national tragedy since football is the number one sport amongst the soccer-crazy population in this Abode of Peace. In comparison, Bruneian footballing standard could even be considered as higher than the US back in the 60s or 70s but look at where the United States’ soccer squad is now! 😉 Okay the US national football team is way out of Brunei’s league… but just look at national teams from poorer countries than Brunei like Ghana or the Ivory Coast which have until this year successfully entered the World Cup finals not once but twice! 😛
If only BAFA and the Youth and Sports Department under the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports had seriously put their hearts and minds fully focused and totally committed to developing this sport for the last couple of decades, it would have been Mission Possible for Brunei to at least become a soccer power to be reckoned with regionally if not internationally… 😦 Nothing is impossible, especially when money is no object toward the improvement of football for the sake of national interest and pride of the Bruneian football fans nationwide.
Now that BAFA in particular and Bruneian football in general is in disgrace and disarray, whatever is happening to the planned FIFA Football Development Center which is being built in Brunei Darussalam?! 😦 Such a pity that budding talented young Bruneian footballers are being deprived of the ‘golden boot’ opportunity to be developed by experienced FIFA professional trainers/coaches simply because of ‘power struggle’ within or without BAFA… 😦