SATURDAY’S Malaysia Rugby (MR) annual general meeting-cum-elections in Kuala Lumpur will likely be a tame affair as nominees for the top positions have huge respect for each other.
For the president’s position, it will be a straight fight between incumbent president Datuk Shahrul Zaman Yahya (Perak) and Kedah's Tan Sri Abdul Halim Karim.
Shahrul's vision going forward has been well documented in recent months, and his main goal is to build up a solid foundation at the grassroots and strengthen Malaysian rugby at the elite level.
This includes setting up a semi-professional domestic league, supported financially through the commercialisation of the sport.
The ultimate goal is to qualify for the 2031 World Cup or at least come close to it.
Halim, on the other hand, has kept a low profile. He is, however, no stranger to Malaysian rugby having held the deputy president’s post for two terms (2010-16).
Halim said his main goal, should he be voted in, is to strengthen MR's financial position.
“I think the most important thing is to look at our funds. Everything we do requires funds, and funds are not easily obtained at this moment in time,” said Halim yesterday.
“We need to intensify our fundraising efforts and also strengthen the commercial aspect of the sport which is often an issue among Malaysian sports.
“That will be first, everything else depends on our financial situation. We do not want to overspend and be burdened financially.
“Having said that, I am not saying that we are not being prudent now. I do not think there is anything wrong at the moment. If I am voted in, it will be about strengthening Malaysian rugby.”
The competition for the deputy president’s post, which Sabah’s Velayuthan Tan has decided not to defend, will be a straight fight between Kelantan president Datuk Tamunif Mokhtar and Terengganu head Amir Amri Mohamad.
It will be a three-way battle for the two vice -president’s positions involving incumbent Raimi Yusof (Selangor), current MR tournament director Fahmy Jalil (Negri Sembilan) and Putrajaya president Zaki Shahran.