AirAsia Allstars stand for what we believe in football, says Datuk Kamarudin

AirAsia Allstars FC founder Datuk Kamarudin Meranun enlightens FourFourTwo Malaysia about the club as well as their involvements with Queens Park Rangers and local football development...

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Why were the club founded in the first place?

It was in early 2011 that we dreamt to create a squad to represent AirAsia in the M-League. What we aspired for was not only a competitive team, but also a squad to best represent the airline’s passion, spirit and determination.  The only way was to uncover talents within AirAsia.

AirAsia is a strong supporter towards sports and we have been involved in numerous sports development initiatives including enabling various athletes to realise their dreams to compete at the highest levels such as MotoGP rider Zulfahmi Khairuddin and international squash player Low Wee Wern. We believe we should have something too for football.

So, AirAsia Allstars Football Club were officially registered with the Registrar of Sports on August 9th, 2011. The purpose of this club was to encourage AirAsia’s staff to excel in sports – football in particular – besides being committed to their daily work in keeping AirAsia as the best low cost airline in the world. We made our debut in the FA of Selangor (FAS) Cup 2012 and went on to record some notable results. 

Why did the club decide to join the FAM League this season?

It is my dream to see AirAsia Allstars play in the top flight of Malaysian football. We are proud that we are now in the FAM league and we look forward to a great finish this season. Being one of the top teams in FAS League within three years of our inception showed that it is not impossible for AirAsia Allstars to compete at a higher level. Competing in the FAM League 2015 is another beginning for AirAsia Allstars. 

What are the club's targets?

As mentioned before, the club will emulate the passion and determination of the airline. In the near future, we are looking for a credible finish to our first season in the FAM League. Our long-term goal is obviously to be in the Malaysian Super League one day. Based on our past performances, it is not impossible for us to compete at a higher level. We echo the group tagline – dream the impossible, believe the unbelievable, and never take no for an answer.

Do the club plan to invest in grassroots football development?

We have recently sponsored the AirAsia-QPR Coaching Clinics in Malaysia for third year running. The club stand for what AirAsia and Tune Group believe in football, so it is natural and given that we support football development at grassroots level.

Do the club have any official partnership with QPR?

[As the grou] AirAsia has long partnered with QPR through many initiatives. We recently collaborated with QPR in The Community Trust to organise the Football Coaching Clinic Tour and AirAsia-QPR Coaching Clinics in Bangkok, Beijing, Guangzhou, Kuala Lumpur and Kota Kinabalu. So, we will look for ways on how AirAsia Allstars can partner with QPR in the near future.

Datuk K at one of the AirAsia-QPR Coaching Clinics

Out of curiosity, do the players stay at Tune Hotels when they travel for away matches?

We will try to utilise facilities within AirAsia and Tune Group as much as possible for cost efficiency, but a lot of other factors need to be taken into account when choosing hotels for the team's convenience, such as the distance of hotel to the match venue, travelling time, traffic and others.  

You actually have a few staff members, including defender Syamsol Sabtu who is featured in FFT June 2015, playing for the club. How does that work out?

AirAsia Allstars players are given flexibility to their working schedule to attend training and matches, so that they can focus towards the game. We at AirAsia always support our staff development and progression in reaching their dreams in pursuit of their passions.

Many newly founded clubs in the past failed to secure their long-term future. How do you plan to ensure the club remain competitive for many years to come?

Between me and Tony [Fernandes], we are passionate towards sport especially football. I am sure with competitive funding arrangements and further support from current sponsors, we will be able to maintain a competitive team.

What do you reckon the result will be if AirAsia Allstars take on QPR in a friendly match?

It depends on which team I will be supporting! [Laughs]

Check out our exclusive coverage of the FAM League in the June 2015 issue of FourFourTwo Malaysia/Singapore. Get it today!