FOUNDATION:UKRC help children improve skills and techniques
AFTER eight years since its inception, the Ulu Klang Recreational Club (UKRC) youth football development programme continues to gain popularity among young players.
The programme, which is conducted by ex-national and state players, who are at the least, Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) 'B' licensed coaches, has grown from a humble beginning of 30 youngsters in 2005 to more than 150 children that are part of the current programme.
UKRC president Andrew Gopal said the programme, which caters for players aged eight to 17, is intended to provide holistic development for young children from the areas close to the club, primarily Hulu Kelang, Ampang Jaya and Bukit Antarabangsa residents.
"This is a grassroots-level programme which is intended to teach the correct skills and techniques to the children to give them the foundation they need to grow into a quality player," said Andrew.
"Our training also inculcates a good sense of discipline and also respect for others among our players as we hope to develop them into responsible, well-rounded individuals off the pitch as well.
"The main objective of the programme is to develop players who will go on to represent their school, state and also country in the future.
"We have already had some successes to the extent where a number of our players have already represented their states in national level competitions.
"The programme is open to all, not only UKRC members, and although it is mainly joined by children from neighbouring areas, it also attracts those from as far as Kajang and Serdang."
Andrew added that the club are also looking at competing in state-level amateur club competitions such as the Kuala Lumpur Football Association leagues in the near future to give players outside the eight to 17 age bracket a chance to continue playing in a structured environment.
"At the moment, our players compete on a consistent basis in competitions such as the 1Malaysia Cardiff City league as well as a number of invitational tournaments.
"We are looking at joining a senior league to give our players who have exceeded the junior age group a chance to keep playing.
"The chance to play football in a structured environment may not be readily accessible to them once they finish school and we hope this move will give them a platform to stay active and also the chance to move on to bigger things."
The club, which has been embroiled in a battle to win full rights to manage the land it is situated on for more than a decade, recently held a peaceful demonstration in an appeal to the Selangor state government.
Club members fear that losing the land may cause a huge social impact in the area as development programmes, which also keep children away from unhealthy activities, won't be held any longer.