Myanmar professional football
Myanmar National League (professional football league) was established in May 2009 with 8 professional clubs, representing different regions across the nation. There were quite a lot of spectators in Thuwana YTC Stadium at that time since people had never watched professional football however, it did not last even a season.
Although football clubs are said they are professional clubs, they look like only like those who play for fun. Most of the local football players are those who have been playing in amateur clubs from government ministries. And foreign players who are mostly coming from neighboring countries are also not that good.
J League in Japan was established with very nice professional football players as a first step to success. So Myanmar also wanted to have good professional players from all over the world, but it was too expensive for Myanmar budget. Since Myanmar football spectators get used to watch leagues from England, Spain, Italy and Germany on TV, they were getting bored to watch MNL which featured only bad players.
Neither those who were in charge of football clubs nor football committee members knew about Professional System well when they started changing amateur clubs into professional one. U Zaw Zaw, who became chairman of Myanmar Football Federation in 2006/2007 football season, sought approval from the government to have a nationwide league in February 2008, and finally received permission to set up private clubs in December 2008. Professional system started in the beginning of 2009 and took the place of 100-year-old amateur football. It was a greatly new exposure not only for players but also for all citizens. It was the time people knew what professional leagues were. Committee members tried so hard to make it good. Sometimes meetings were held three continuous times in a day.
I, personally, think that it was too fast to change from amateur to professional leagues that quickly without learning or understanding the system. Although it seems so quick for Myanmar, it was already considered late among Asia countries.
Indonesia started professional football clubs since 1978 with semi-pro system.it proceeded into 17 semi-pro clubs in 1997-1998.So did professional football leagues start in 1990 in Malaysia. Also Singapore invested 5 million dollars to establish S.League in 1996. Now Singapore is getting stronger and popular among South East Asia countries. Thailand conquered all Gold medals in Football in 27th Sea Game hosted in Myanmar. Thailand started their professional football system since 1995.
Japan, where a Myanmar man called U Hla Din and his Japanese friends established football, is one of the strongest nation nowadays. It was first not successful. None of Japan football clubs reached to Final match while Myanmar won Gold medal for two continuous years in Asia Games. Japan prepared to innovate the amateur football clubs into professional ones in 1988 as they believed they had to do so to improve the football sport standard. They were well-planned as they took 5 years to learn in order to innovate. Then they started J-League with 10 clubs in 1993. Japan hired famous players such as Gary Lineker and Zico to draw Japanese spectators’ attention since Japanese preferred baseball to football at that time. And it did work!
So far South Korea is the most successful in football in Asia. It participated in World Cup 1954. It is also the earliest Asia country which followed professional football system since 1983 with K- League.
We see that Myanmar is far behind other countries in Asia or South East Asia. We launched nationwide league 20 years later than others. Therefore, to be able to catch up them, Myanmar needs to try for nearly 200 years. As far as I am concerned, almost all countries used the word “Revolution” in records when they transfer into professional leagues. Myanmar needs as well to follow revolutionary ways to succeed if we really want to improve our football sport. I think we must take it serious as our national revolution.
Article translated from Irrawaddy by the Mingalapar Forum team