Cardiff City Academy manager Neal Ardley believes Malaysian football needs to focus on the basics to produce more quality players.
Ardley, who during his playing days was part of Wimbledon’s “Crazy Gang”, said giving young players the chance to play was the most important aspect of football development and should only later be followed by other more serious aspects of training.
“At Cardiff, we have 127 kids in our elite academy programme but that did not just happen overnight and took us five years to achieve with the help of the underpinnings of our youth programme," said Ardley, at the academy grounds in Pontypridd.
“The most important thing is to give children the chance to play and be introduced to the game by giving them the chance to spend regular hours playing the sport.
“At the academy, we have over 50,000 players going through our programmes each year with pretty much every school in south and mid Wales being covered by our coaches and scouts. It is only with a large pool like this that we are able to produce the best players.”
Ardley, who last year spent 11 days conducting coaching clinics for players and coaches throughout Malaysia, said educating Malaysian coaches is the next most important aspect to improving the development of football.
“Being a good coach is a very difficult skill to achieve and is an ongoing process with coaches needing to be trained and educated on a continual basis.
"When I was in Malaysia, I noticed that the youth coaches there were very passionate about the game but they lacked proper techniques in teaching the various age groups.”
Ardley went on to praise Cardiff's Malaysian chairman and co-owner Datuk Chan Tien Ghee for his efforts in organising the 1Malaysia Cardiff City (1MCC) Under-12 League which will see more than 32 teams from across the Klang Valley, Perak and Penang compete. Chan, together with Tan Sri Vincent Tan, took over Cardiff in May 2010.
Selected promising players from the league will be given the chance to train at the Cardiff Academy.
“TG (Tian Ghee) is very development oriented, whether it is for the academy here or in Malaysia and the 1MCC league is a really positive platform to help give players the chance to play.
“Due to red tape, it may be hard to have players from Malaysia to play for the club but we will definitely be looking at having Malaysian players and coaches come and train with us,” added the former Wimbledon midfielder.