Obituary : Rasalingam the doyen of KL Football passes away

Dato K. Rasalingam, the doyen of Kuala Lumpur Football passed away two days ago. ( Thursday)

I woke up this morning expecting to see some for a tribute or obituary written for a man that was a household name for well over three decades.

There was no mention of his demise the night before on TV stations, and sadly none on the papers except for an advert by the family.

As I sat down wondering, I felt that I owed it to him and those like him to pen an obituary, to recognise his contributions towards Football in this country, in particular for Kuala Lumpur.

Not very well versed with the late Dato Rasalingam except for a few occasional introductions by the then KLFA Secretary the late Dato Goh Ah Chai, I contacted my former colleague Tony Mariadass for some vital info.

And despite being so familiar in Hockey, I am attempting to put pieces of information together to pay tribute to a man who virtually gave “ birth” to KLFA.

It was as a result of a breakaway faction so as to speak in 1977 that KLFA was formed.

And key to the formation was Dato Rasalingam.

The Kuala Lumpur Football Association may be the youngest state association having been formed in 1975, but their achievements during the short period makes them veterans in the game.

Initially KLFA was known as Federal Territory Football Association (FTFA),

FA of Selangor secretary K. Rasalingam together with other members Goh Ah Chai, Hamzah Muhammad, M.J. Vincent, Shariff Mustafa, Jeswant Singh and Manickarajah were key towards the formation of this new Football body.

They saw the need for another association in the Klang Valley due to the growing numbers of clubs.

It was never going to be easy for Dato Rasalingam but he preserved, patiently doing things to put together an association through sheer hard work and honesty, something we do not see today,

Rasalingam had the passion and dedication that many a sports administrator during his time arrived upon, where money was never a reward or an incentive.

Rather it was achieving something that drove individuals like Dato Rasalingam on.

FTFA was officially formed in 1975 with the late Tan Sri Hamzah Abu Samah elected as their first president.

Hamzah went on to become the F.A. of Malaysia president in 1977 and FTFA deputy president Tengku Ahmad Rithauddeen took over at the helm.

It was that year too that FTFA organised their first league with 30 clubs.

Then it was just one division with the clubs being divided into the Dunhill League, Bandaraya (City) League, First Division, Second Division, Third Division, Reserve League and Government Departments and Business House League.

But Rasalingam knew that was not enough and he planned for FTFA to challenge the big boys of Malaysian Football.

The following year FTFA was first represented at the national level when they competed in the Razak Cup (Under-18).

It was in 1979, that the Federal Territory made their debut in the Malaysia Cup.

They then started off as whipping boys but by 1982 were already making waves to be among the top teams in the league although they failed to win any titles.

In 1984, Tengku Ahmad Rithauddeen stepped down as president and the Lord Mayor, Elyas Omar was elected the third president of the association.

And finally Rasalingam had someone who was as dedicated and passionate like him in the saddle as he rode shotgun.

The election of Elyas was about the best thing that happened to FTFA due to his dedication to the association.

Elyas played a major role in raising the standard of football in Kuala Lumpur by introducing professionalism when he recruited players from other states and Singapore.

He made available better training and playing facilities.

In 1985, Federal Territory reached their first Malaysia Cup final after only competing in the tournament for seven seasons while other states, who have been in the competition since it was inaugurated in 1921, are still trying to reach the final.

FTFA officially changed its name to Kuala Lumpur Football Association (KLFA) in 1987 to better identify itself with the city.

Kuala Lumpur joined the ranks of the heavyweights in the Malaysian soccer competition which saw them win the Charity Shield once (1987) in the four appearances, the League twice and the Malaysia Cup three years in a row (1987–1989).

Kuala Lumpur also supplied a good number of players for the national team over the years.

Leadership in the KLFA kept changing hands after Elyas bin Omar stepped down with Megat Junid Megat Ayub taking over.

The two will now be probably be in heaven discussing the great times they had together charting the fortunes of KLFA.

Football will surely miss Rasalingam, his stern but friendly outlook and most of all his ability to turn an association that in a way started winning titles while others struggled over the years.

Rasalingam was a man of vision, he knew exactly what he wanted to achieve after leaving the Selangor FA where he was Secretary.

No one gives up a position such as this to venture into the unknown,

But Rasalingam was no ordinary individual.

He was meticulous in his planning and together with Elyas , they formed a tag team that went in to re-write footballing history.

Rest In Peace Dato Rasalingam.

We all salute you and are sad we could not say our final goodbye and last respects due to the Movement Control Order enforced.

Our sincere and deepest condolences to the family.