Saturday, 20 October 2012

The Red Warrior

Tonight, warriors will march onto the battlefield. At the edges, two generals sit alongside their lieutenants, planning tactics and shouting commands. The air erupts with the chorus of battle cries, blare of trumpets and beating of drums from their fanatical followers.  

In this battle, there can only be one victor. Football is more than just a sport. Football not only stirs strong emotions among the players and coaches on the field, but also its supporters in the stands and streets.

I recently read an article in the Economist about Barcelona football club and its rise to being touted as potentially the most successful football club ever, but I think it’s a great display of good leadership and management as a business also.

The article looks into Barcelona’s culture of team building and how it creates a bond with its supporters and sponsors. This reminds me of the rise of my home state football fondly known as the Red Warrior.

To those who have stepped foot onto Kelantan’s soil, they will tell you all about the passion we have for our local team football team as much as Argentinians do. In a country that is dominated by headlines from European football, Kelantan can be recognised as a state that is constantly gripped by local football fever. As acknowledged by many, Kelantanese are arguably the most passionate, vocal and colourful set of supporters on these shores, definitely the most loyal and known for our own football hooligan.

The flags and banners with the battle cry "Gome Kelate Gomo" or "Fight Kelantan Fight" virtually omnipresent, while the local community can be found passionately donning their Red Warriors outfit far and wide.

The team has become the best example of how a professional sports team should be run. Once a minnow among other state football teams, their rise in stature been brought about by the arrival of Tan Sri Annuar Musa to the Kelantan FA throne. Kelantan were relegated to the third tier of Malaysian football and in a massive organizational shake-up.

Since then, the team has signing of quality players from other states, secured sponsorships for the team and invested heavily in good foreign players. Besides, he also ensured the welfare of players was looked after and that Kelantan always had the best coach possible to train the team.

Like Barcelona FC, Kelantan has used the idea that it is “more than a club” to cultivate a two-way relationship with its fans. If The Reds Warrior step-in Malaysia National Stadium they never be alone.There would be a lot of cars, and even buses, carrying red flags along Karak Highway.
Their impact on the team should never be understated. They follow the fortunes of their team closely and spend hard-earned money to turn up in droves to back the team
Jim Collins, the author of “Good to Great”, argues that the secret of long-term corporate success lies in cultivating a distinctive set of values. For all the talk of diversity and globalisation, this usually means promoting from within and putting down deep local roots. The reason Kelantan is having a great season is because team consider as a big family. It couldn’t be farther from the truth, the core of the Red Warriors squad have been together for almost three years, thus understanding and respect is mutual, and holds the team like a strong glue.

The chance to win a Malaysian treble is mesmerizing enough but the Kelantan faithful will look back and cite their ‘never-say-die’ attitude as being the catalyst for their triumph. Armed with confidence and flair, Kelantan look on course for a great 2012/2013 season regardless of what transpires on or off the field.

Back to tonight's match, Kelantan is certainly the favourite. Based on its track record so far, there is no reason why it should not win. As a Kelantanese, I hope that red will be the colour of the evening. However, as mentioned above, should this happen, the vibration could be felt beyond the soccer pitch in Bukit Jalil.

Note: The red warrior chanting "Gome Kelate Gomo" is from English words " Go More Kelantan Go More"

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