Ministry of Culture Youth and Sports (MCYS) Permanent Secretary Dato Paduka Hj Mohd Hamid Hj Mohd Jaafar (2nd L), National Football Association of Brunei Darussalam (NFABD) Vice President Pehin Datu Indera Sugara Brigadier General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Hj Mohammad Yusof Abu Bakar (2nd R), NFABD General Secretary Hj Mohd Zamri Dato Paduka Hj Hamdani (L) and Director of the Department of Youth and Sports Hj Abd Malik Hj Mohd (R) during a press conference at the Conference Room of the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium in Berakas yesterday. BT/Ak Fauzi Pg Salleh
The highly anticipated Hassanal Bolkiah Trophy has been confirmed for next month.
Organised by the Ministry of Culture Youth and Sports (MCYS) and the National Football Association of Brunei Darussalam (NFABD), except for Indonesia, every other ASEAN country - plus Timor Leste - have already confirmed their participation for the August 9-23 regional Under-21 tournament.
Joining hosts Brunei in the fifth edition of the tournament are Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Timor Leste - and all the participating countries are expected to arrive in the Sultanate on August 6.
The draw for the tournament will be held on Saturday. Brunei beat Indonesia 2-0 to win the last edition of the tournament in 2012, and organisers are still awaiting news of their participation.
"Indonesia is a very important team as we all know that they are the finalist of the tournament two years ago, but we are not sure whether they will take part in the HBT this year - but we will find out in the next few days," said MCYS Permanent Secretary Dato Paduka Hj Mohd Hamid Hj Mohd Jaafar at a press conference yesterday.
"The tournament will be sanctioned by the AFF (Asean Football Federation) and we and NFABD have consulted the AFF for the best time to organise this tournament, and it was very challenging for us to accommodate (the) schedule and timing for the tournament," added Dato Paduka Hj Mohd Hamid, who is also the chairman of the tournament's organising committee.
Among other issues that were raised during the press conference at the Conference Room of the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium in Berakas were tournament venues, ticketing and crowd control. The matches will take place at three venues: the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium, the Balapan Track and Field at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Sports Complex and the Berakas Sports Complex.
"The issue regarding crowd control is one of the greatest challenge for us as we all know that the current capacity of the stadium (Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium) is quite limited, but we have identified a couple of measures to avoid problems in the future," said Dato Paduka Hj Mohd Hamid.
"We also addressed the issue of tickets distribution and security control to ensure a better and safer environment this time around, and we are hoping to have another successful tournament again this year," he added. Organisers spent nearly $1.7 million to ensure the 2012 edition of the tournament would run smoothly.
The HBT is the brainchild of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, who desired that an Under-21 football tournament be organised with the aim of improving friendship and understanding between Southeast Asian youth through sports.
The tournament aims at attracting the best football teams in Southeast Asia, and at the same time, to expose ASEAN to the world in sports. According to a previous article in The Brunei Times, it was back in 1997 when His Majesty first mooted the idea of a football tournament among the ASEAN member states.
An extract of His Majesty's Titah when he visited the Institute of Diplomatic And Foreign Relations, Kuala Lumpur on August 27, 1997, as follows: "Having our best and brightest students, our future leaders, immersed in another ASEAN country will deepen their understanding and allow them to form valuable networks."
"Second, I observe that sports can reach out to people in all walks of life. Of all spectator sports, soccer has the greatest following in Southeast Asia." "Having an ASEAN or Southeast Asian soccer league will deepen the awareness of ordinary people of ASEAN countries."
"Let all the best teams of our region compete in the league. If Europe can have a European League, Latin-America a Latin-American League and Africa its African League, why is there not a Southeast Asia League?"