National Football Development Programme not shutting down

KUALA LUMPUR – The Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) have denied rumours that the National Football Development Programme (NFDP), including the Mokhtar Dahari Football Academy (AMD), in Gambang, Pahang will be closed down.

FAM secretary-general Mohd Saifuddin Abu Bakar the NFDP, which was launched in 2014 with the vision of producing more world-class footballers consistently, would continue to operate.

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“If there are stories of NFDP being shut down, they are not true. We (FAM) are always thinking of the issue of development. From this development project, we will not see the result now. Only later we will see the result and, if the efforts are good, we will continue with it (the project).

“This programme also involves many quarters, the government, the National Sports Council (NSC), KBS (Youth and Sports Ministry) and so on. Of course, we welcome it (the continuation of the programme) and if we need to upgrade it, we will do so,” he told Bernama today.

He said this after attending a joint working committee meeting with the NSC and other stakeholders that was chaired by NSC director-general Datuk Ahmad Shapawi Ismail.

Previously, speculation was rife that a handful of individuals were trying to lobby for the NFDP to be closed down, thus causing concern among the local football community regarding the direction of the national football development at the grassroots level.

Meanwhile, Mohd Saifuddin also confirmed that the NSC-FAM Project Squad established at the end of 2020 would not be dissolved.

He said the team, who finished last in this season’s Premier League with just one win from 20 matches, would continue to compete in the league next season and that the matter had been agreed by the NSC.

“The NSC-FAM Project Squad was clearly formed especially for the AMD players. If these AMD players were to train only and do not play in any competitive meet, they will not get anywhere. So, this squad will be retained.

“With the presence of this squad, we will have a bigger pool of players in our preparation ahead of 2024. We are looking forward to the 2024 (Paris) Olympics by having a bigger pool of players, including the national Under-17 and Under-23 squads,” he said.

A total of 30 trainees from among AMD graduates, as well as products from the Youth Cup and President’s Cup, Malaysian and State Sports Schools as well as District Training Centres under the NFDP, were gathered to form the pioneer NSC-FAM Project Squad.