That is a famous quote attributed to Tan Sri Hamzah Abu Samah who passed away yesterday at the age of 88.

This was in reference to the National Sports Council which was created in 1971 via the NSC Act when Hamzah was the Sports Minister.

It was something that Hamzah often uttered when I bumped into him during the early years of my foray into journalism.

My acquaintance with Hamzah was purely coincidental for the first time we met was in 1987, opposite the Station Padang in Seremban, where one of the best rojak and cendol stalls were located.

Hamzah was seated next to me and a mutual friend introduced us. I did not know then who Hamzah really was and over the years got to know him better.

The quote about NSC was Hamzah’s way of saying that when the NSC was formed and it’s function differed to what it has become since.

But the nice man he was, Hamzah never publicly devoured NSC as after all it was his creation.

Sports thrived with Hamzah at the helm as most of the associations he led showed remarkable achievements during his tenure.

Who can forget that day in Munich when the Malaysian football team competed in the 1972 Munich Olympics? Or when Malaysia defeated South Korea at the Merdeka Stadium to qualify for the 1980 Moscow Olympics that we eventually boycotted.

Hamzah was a gifted leader, someone who said things as he saw it, soft yet firm, and above all did not deem it necessary to rule with an iron fist.

One of the finest attributes of Hamzah was he knew when it was time to let go, and that is what many of the current seat warmers in the current age could learn from Hamzah.

Rest in peace sir for you have contributed significantly to Malaysian sports and we pray that you continue to look upon us from the heavens.