TDZ is Tun Daim Zainudin. He is a former finance minister whose views and advice are still sought after. A slightly built man, but with an indomitable spirit. He isn't afraid to speak his mind even if it meant disagreeing with the great Tun Mahathir. Unfortunately, the idea confrontations between the two men from Wan Mat Saman country will not be made public. Maybe that's his secret for political and business longevity. What's private stays private. This time, I am not going to talk about TDZ's views on politics. Let's talk something less severe. Let's talk sports.
Not many people, including I know that Tun Daim Zainudin (TDZ) is an avid sports fan. He is a football aficionado and can regurgitate the names of famous footballers to the amazement of kaki bangku like me.
I had to ask- TUN, when did you develop this fascination with football? Did you get the bug when you were studying in the UK?
No, said TDZ- I played football when I was at school. Badminton too.
He did? I thought. With his slender physique, he must have been properly roughed up those days.
Those days, your parents didn't care what sports you took up, as long you come back on time and do your studies.
I have been able to maintain my weight for the last 50 years. He is now 71. His weight now is what he weighed when he was 21. You have to see TDZ in person to know how spritely he appears.
My mind was immediately transported to a scene long time ago when cabinet ministers played football at the Merdeka Stadium. Tun Dr Mahathir was on hand to referee off the game. Cabinet ministers in their full football attire were introduced to Tun M. A picture showed Tun Mahathir saying something to a guffawing Tun Daim who was attired I think, in shorts. Tun Mahathir was probably poking fun at TDZ's puny legs, and seemed to be asking the question on everyone's mind, can TDZ play football? Ah... Anyway, I have to respect the man who has been able to be at the same weight for 50 years compared to me whose physique has seen better days.
So what's the deal with our football industry now? I asked.
Properly nurtured, the football industry can be like formula 1 event. We got to achieve a certain standard though and the facilities to accommodate world class football events. We bring the teams over here and have them play football here. People will come and bring in tourist money. Sports can be a revenue earning source.
We take in those African players and absorbed them into various clubs. Like the Saudis are doing. They play professional football as skillful as European players. Plus, they are cheaper too.
Are you into the market to buy any clubs Tun? One prominent Malaysian businessman was rumored to be interested in an English Football Club sometime ago.
Not I, said TUn- English clubs are getting too expensive. You pay millions for a player and he can get hurt or injured and your investments are badly affected. I hear from the market that somebody from the airline industry may be buying a club. I don't know, people tell me- said TDZ.
I think it's worthwhile to look at French Football Clubs. They are more price friendly. They have got many African players in their clubs owing to their colonial ties. French Clubs would be money for value buys. They can always be brought over and play games in Malaysia say on periodic basis. Football ala F1 race.
Take the F1 event for example. Years ago, I spoke about having the f1 event here. It was generally ignored until in recent years, somebody came up with the idea of building the Sepang Circuit.
Are they making money Tun? I asked.
No I don't think they are making money. You can't overprice the tickets. Most certainly, the deficiency in earnings when holding the F1 events is compensated by other ways such as special draws or something.
Hmm, interesting I thought- that's how people make money. You can't belittle how much knowledge you get just by engaging business personalities.
To say that TDZ is a fan of football is an understatement. His passion for football appears to be well rewarded. He has a personal jersey top given him by Manchester United hall of famer- Bobby Charlton. He has the number 9 MU jersey proudly displayed at his office. The sweetener is having his name emblazoned on the jersey. And just recently he was given an MU jersey signed by all the players. I joked that if these jerseys are sold on e-bay, you can make millions.
He is also a fan of F1 driving. He dashed to his loyal PA of many years, Mei Chuan to come back with a cap signed by the ace driver, Schumacher. I wasted no time to take a photo of this.
Are you and MU fan Tun?
Hmm…not really. The PM on the other hand is. He roots in for MU no matter what. In my case, I just appreciate any good game.
Ahh…, businesslike, I thought. The 'game must be good' seems to be the acid test.
I think clubs like Chelsea will blossom this season.
I have to accept what TDZ said in good faith- I have no inkling what teams are doing good in the English division. My current exposure to English football is limited to overhearing my children's' excited during and after match analyses. My son Hakim brought back a football video game with life sized players. The names are emblazoned across these digital footballers. I thought I am now hearing some names I saw on the jerseys.
What are the ingredients to success in sports Tun?
First you must have the winning mentality. If you go into matches without the mental preparedness and integrity, you have already lost the battle. Look at our badminton player for example. He probably lost because the mental state was absent. Probably we pamper our sports stars too much- datukships, introduced them to high life style etc. and probably out true sports hero is Nicole David. She has been number 1 for several years and certainly deserved her datukship.
Second, you must have dedication and subject yourself to regimentation in training. You see those who excel in sports trained every day until whatever skills they acquire become 2nd nature to them.
I have seen for example how Roger Federer the top Tennis player in the world, dedicate his life to his craft. He eats sleeps and breaths tennis.
I am sure TDZ mentioned he has something signed by Federer somewhere but has left it there.
The state of sports in Malaysia is sadly deteriorating. We used to be good at sports where size does not factor prominently such as badminton. But the Chinese are overtaking us on account of mental preparedness, discipline and regimentation. They trained like maniacs. We can't beat them at table tennis. Maybe we should be looking at sports where we have comparative advantage.
Even that Tun, without the ingredients which you mentioned, mental preparedness, dedication and discipline and regimentation, we cant go far. You remember, we used to be tops at sepak takraw, now every time we play countries like Vietnam, the results are nail biting.