MALAYSIA will field an national Under 23 team in this year's senior men's National Premier Leagues Queensland competition in a revolutionary new first for football in Australia.
The Malaysian Under 23 side, known as Harimau Muda 'A', will become the first international representative team to compete in an Australian football league when they take to the field in early March.
FAM General Secretary, Dato' Hamidin Bin Haji Mohd Amin, and Harimau Muda 'A' head coach Datuk Ong Kim Swee were joined by Football Queensland executives in Brisbane on Tuesday to formally announce the team's participation in the 2014 competition.
Football Queensland Chief Operating Officer Ben Mannion said the announcement continued the growth of the NPL model in Queensland, which is the state's elite competition below the A-League and commenced in 2013.
“One of the keys to rapid growth of Football in any country is for its clubs, coaches and players to gain exposure to new methods and ideas via international competition,” Mannion said.
“Building a strong relationship with FAM and Asia is an important step in providing this development opportunity to our youth and coaches as well as showcasing their talents to an international audience”.
Football Queensland Chief Executive Officer Geoff Foster said he was delighted that this relationship was possible after just one season of the National Premier Leagues competition in Queensland.
“The opportunity for our junior players and coaches to view the different styles, philosophies, tactics and techniques that this national team will employ will provide the whole Queensland football community with an otherwise inaccessible experience.” Foster said.
The announcement comes following negotiations between FAM and Football Queensland that commenced after a successful tour of the state by the Malaysian Under 23 team in 2012.
While Harimau Muda 'A' have not been granted a full NPL license, they will compete under a Memorandum of Understanding between FAM and Football Queensland.
Fixtures will be played for competition points, however the team will not be eligible to compete in the NPL Finals Series nor the FFA Cup.
The inclusion of the Malaysian Under 23's comes eight years after Football Federation Australia joined the Asian Football Confederation and one year out from 2015 AFC Asian Cup, which features Brisbane as one of five Australian host cities.
Their addition takes NPL Queensland to 14 teams for the 2014 season following last week's confirmation that Brisbane Roar will field their National Youth League team in the senior division this year.