Monday, April 11, 2016


By Mansor Puteh

Many people will want to see ‘Ola Bola’ as a film that features a multiracial cast on football in 1980 when the Malaysian team made it to the Olympics for the first and also the last time.

Unfortunately, most of those in the production team are not Melayu but Chinese especially its director, producers and screenwriter.

The only multiracial element in the film is the cast.

I have not seen this film; but from what I can glean and see or guess it is not just about the special time when the top footballers in Malaysia from all the major races joined together to ensure and succeeded in getting their national team to be selected for the Olympic.

Unfortunately, there is yet another theme which is more major that I could see which the producers had failed to realize or feel, which is how the era in Malaysian football represents one when the non-Melayu footballers had started to lose interest in the sport which later became an almost Melayu-dominated sport.

There is hardly any Chinese footballer in the state and national teams and a few Indians who do not stand out.

And with it, the non-Melayu supporters too started to desert the sport staying away for all the state and national league matches.

And it is also not surprising that this also happened in Singapore where their own state and national teams now comprised mostly of Melayu footballers with some imported ones.

But fortunately, the supporters of this sport still remain loyal to their teams, who mostly comprise of the Chinese.

The only saving grace is how ‘Ola Bola’ got it almost right on all aspects, especially in the recreation of the scenes of that year, with its high production quality, that can never be found in the country today with the main football stadium then, Stadium Merdeka now having changed dramatically, so the producers had to do a bit to get it right for the film.

And of course, the element of the documentary is evident, because of realism.

But beyond these what is it really that the film wants to tell to the Malaysians?

But it’s directing is nothing to shout about with no emphasis on whose point of view the story of this film is, the director’s, producers’ or the main actors. I will be clearer on this when I finally get the chance to watch and study this film when the DVD is available.

It is too bad that the main theme of this film which is hidden, has to be about how the Chinese in the country are leaving the sport either as football players and also the supporters.

And it surely won’t be a crowd-puller in other countries where the people are not familiar with football in Malaysia in 1980 or even now, and chances of it being snapped by the international festivals, too, look bleak.

The reception from the viewers for this film is not stunning with it only managing to collect RM2.5 million in its four days of screening and it might at the most get RM6 million.

Not many people are talking that much about this film to get the word-of-mouth promotions that it should get especially to the non-Melayu viewers who normally shun Melayu films.

Football is now not a favorite game for the Chinese to play and even to watch with most of them now comprising of the Melayu. However, there are still some Chinese who are involved in this sport, but as trainers or coaches.

But this is not just a Malaysian happening; it is also happening in Singapore where the people and the PAP government there always like to talk about meritocracy, yet in football, the Melayu players are now dominant.

One can hardly ever see the Chinese in Singapore and also in Malaysia in their national and state teams.

There are also so few Indian players in the football leagues in the two countries.

Even in the English Premiere League (EPL) there are now more non-White footballers today compared to the earlier time, when there was hardly any in most of the club teams.

Yet, the supporters of the clubs still remain a White-majority crowd, although there are times when the non-White footballers were booed by the supporters of their own clubs.

In Malaysia and Singapore, such incidents have not happened and they will never happen.

As for ‘Ola Bola’, there is not much else that I can say except to wonder where will the director of this film who is said to have studied film at a university in New York City, can go next in his profession? And when will this film get to Astro First and then sold in DVDs so I can get hold of one to watch?

There were some people who were in the Malaysian football team that won a berth in the 1972 Munich Olympics who disputed some facts that they said were not right, one concerning the goals scored which in the film are ‘3 – 2’ when in fact it was ‘2 – 0’.

Why did the producers have to take such drastic creative license when they could be more truthful?

The DVD has been released but I am not in any mood to watch it. And the issues that the producers had wanted to create from this film have all died.

And the producers who are unknown and its director who is also not well-known have all but disappeared from the scene as they are probably trying to come up with their new film.

Did they think they had done much for their film?

Now it is between ‘Munafik’ and ‘Boboiboy the Movie’ which are still in the cinemas and which will gross more than which film? These must be easy films to watch because they are superficial.

1 comment:

Michael said...

Hi Mansor, I share the same sentiment with you on the polarization of the sports. I am in my late 40s. Remembering my secondary school days, I used to be a captain of a football team in my housing estate. We use to play in the evening and especially when it is raining. I pick up this sport from my schoolmates and we have a multi-racial "gang". What make us common is just football. There wasn't any concern of safety being outdoor. IMHO, things started to change when we had more foreign workers. We started to feel lesser confidence in the security. Parents becoming paranoid when comes to child education. There purpose in life was making sure their children scoring As. Then comes politic involvement in education system. Flip-flopping national education policies and created a new Malaysia society. As for me, I am still the same boy who play football 30 years ago...see all things monochrome. I still maintain my principle that mutual respect to all living things.