Yakub Hussaini recently left his position as the general manager of Westports Malaysia Dragons shares his thoughts in an interview, serving nearly a decade with the team and handling the mantle over to Andri Reza. Yakub began his career with professional football industry before being roped into the initiation of KL Dragons in 2009, later known as Westports Malaysia Dragons. Here, Yakub shares more about his time with the Dragons: 1. It has been 9 years since you first started with the Dragons in 2009 till 2018, do you still remember the time when you were offered to lead the team? It was the strangest thing that happened to me then. I was from a professional set up in football when Boss Ruben offered me the position. I had no idea about basketball at all. I have played the game when I was younger but not at a high level. So the basic understanding of the game was there, but to be offered a position as a GM in a pro set up was to be an uphill battle in my opinion. What Boss did was he threw me the challenge and I accepted it. The next thing he did was he offered me his credit card and asked me to buy DVDs and books to prepare myself! I knew this was going to be a serious up hill battle. In the end I didn’t use his credit card but went through the internet and learned as much as I can in a very short period of time. I was then asked to help set up the league too. ABL had a Malaysian CEO then, so I worked closely with Mr. Kuhan Foo. When I first met guys in basketball I was introduced to Dato’ Yeoh Choo Hock of FIBA Asia at first. Then, it was Mr. Wee and Coach Goh Cheng Huat. A few weeks later, I had a lot of discussion with regards to the team with Mr. Sim Sin Heng who was the Secretary General then. All these fine gentlemen I have considered as my mentor. They have taught me the tips and tricks in the basketball management. The first player that I met in an interview and contract negotiation was our first captain, Chee Li Wei. From then on, the ball was rolling and everyday was a lesson for me. 2. What were your best moments throughout your tenure as the General Manager? Memorable ones especially when we won the championship? I can’t really specific any best moment as I was having fun all the time, All the 9 years was my best moments. It was a roller coaster ride initially but as I gained experience I became confident and knew my bearings. That was when our Coach (Ariel Vanguardia) and I set up a plan programme to win the Championship. The Championship was not pure luck but a two and half year plan we had and we kept following it. the ones that attended the game could see how emotional Coach Ariel was when he lifted the trophy, because whatever we planned materialised. I must say, Dragons has really helped a lot for the development of basketball in this country. We have set up a platform for our locals players to compete internationally for six months in year. Before this, the players were harping on invitations and festival like tournaments and championship. Now, they compete in a league. Other than that, the public has now recognised The Westports Malaysia Dragons to basketball or basketball to the Dragons. At the same time, our local players has also made a name for themselves. The mainstream media and social media played a big role in promoting these. And not to forget our hardcore fans that has played tremendous part in building this organisation. The likes of Kelvin Lim, CJ, Jordan Yap, Kng Zheng Guan and Norman Goh who consistently post and chat about the team on almost daily basis. 3. How much have we changed since with the inception of the Dragons for Malaysia’s basketball development and industry? As for the basketball industry, we still have a lot to build on but this cannot be shouldered by the Dragons alone. It has to be done by all the stakeholders that are involved directly or indirectly with the sport. It is a long process but I’m sure with Boss Ruben and Dato’ Lua leaderships it can only grow. Dato’ Lua has done an excellent job for the past two years as a president. He has open many doors that was once considered to be limitations. Basketball in Malaysia now have a few good guys that can spearhead basketball in the right direction. My wish is to see Malaysia’s basketball to be one of Asia’s power house one day. 4. What is next for you after Dragons? Next for me is…family. My wife has a job offer with Singtel in Singapore. Therefore, I will have to take over her place to take care of our son. That means, I will become the driver to my son! That was the main reason why I cannot commit myself to the Dragons. Dragons needs someone that can give them the full attention, of which I cannot do now. 5. What are your hopes for the new General Manager and the future of Westports Malaysia Dragons? For Dri, I have all the faith that Dri will do well with this orgainsation. The basic systems has all been laid down for him. All he needs to do is be more creative and to do things better than myself and I am sure he can. I have promised Boss Ruben that I will help him on anything and anytime he needs me. So if Dri needs my help I am only a phone call away. Best of Luck Dri.