Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year Greetings to each and everyone.

It is my hope and wish that 2009 shall be a good, wonderful and enjoyable year for all of you. The prayers are for Malaysians to realise their dreams and wishes with peace, harmony and happiness. In this process the hope of opening the way for our sports people to bring glory to the nation so that we can hoist our jalur cemilang in the various sports arenas round the world.

Let's be proud of our people and our country.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Has MHF really changed ? Where are the principles of transparency, governance and accountability?

When MHF had its Seminar in early December, there was a feeling that things would look good in MHF. The TM had taken a keen interest and had shown that we need to do something. The feeling was there that there would be changes and the issues of transparency, governance and accountability were paramount. Indeed the so called presentation by the "102" Group spelt the manner of selecting coaches and team managers. Obviously it is not an official document of MHF but it was rumoured that the Wawasan Committee would want to push it to be adopted.

Strangely it is people in the Wawasan Committee who seem to be infringing the rules of natural justice, which, without doubt, embodies the principles of transparency and governance. 2 of the 3 team managers named for the various national teams plus the Deputy President (as Chairman of the Team Management Committee) are in the Wawasan Committee. What is strange is that these people in the Wawasan Committee are supposed to supervise the progress of the national teams progressing through various qualifying hockey events. These personalities may not realise that it also unethical plus it would put them in a position of conflict.

These people have to make choices if they want to properly serve MHF and i believe they can only remain either in the Wawasan team or as managers or Chairman of the Team Management Committee, not both. That is the only way forward if they believe in accounting for their actions in MHF. These are hard facts and of course one can chose to ignore them. Just a note of caution, once things do not go right that is when every critic would wait to dish out what should have been done. By then it shall be too late and the damage would be done.

MHF wants to make a change and is represented by the TM becoming President and the current Deputy President winning the election. Such was the cry for change so it is important that things are done for the better as it lays the foundation for the affiliates and others to follow. It seems memories are very short lived and the "mumbo jumbo" has began.

A classy example is the appointment of coaches by the Team Management Committee. The direct appointment style of doing things calls into question whether some of them even have coaching certificates. It also calls into question whether these coaches know their terms of appointments like salaries, contract periods, targets and other action plans. Indeed if the Team Management Committee had these details then they should have invited applicants for the various positions. It would have provided a wider choice and given every coach the opportunity to apply. What has been done now, is no difference from the way things were done in the last 2 years. There are already moans and groans compounded by the fact that people in the Wawasan Committee are involved and or becoming beneficiaries. It immediately begs a number of questions from transparency to good governance.

In all these National Sports Council (NSC) is also not spared the comments. Indeed an NSC official in a key capacity was part of the decision making on the various appointments by the Team Management Committee. Again, this has been happening in the past and still continues as a practice. Yet the NSC's Director General who sits in the Wawasan Committe may be compromised if he is put in a position to determine if his key staff were making the right or wrong decisions. NSC has become deeply involved and it may put itself in an awkward position if ultimately the fingers come pointing back at them.

Change is not changing people only. It also means changing the way things are done. There are fundamental principles that need to be adopted so as MHF can move forward knowing elements of transparency, governance and accountability are in place. This means the people who undertake their tasks must first understand it as it is not a "kacang puteh" operation. If it is otherwise, then make it clear so everyone knows about it. Then the expectations would not be there.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

"Mumbo Jumbo" decision making at Team Management Committee. Is it a result of lobbyists at work?

As i read today's paper i.e the sports pages, i was surprise to see certain names appearing in the various national teams. Surprised because there seems to be an uncoordinated effort in naming names without recognising the various salient points.

It is good that a transition management team is in place for the Senior team. That should have been done much earlier. The fact is that Malaysian hockey is in desperation to get a foreign coach. Time is ticking and the one month timeline seems to have moved 3 times. There is a lack of focus because the position of Chairman of Coaching Committee had remained vacant for various reasons. Although the position is filled, strangely MHF has yet to make an announcement. Is MHF not proud of their own appointee? Even then there are enough rumours in the market that names submitted by the Chairman were set aside because various lobbyists were at work to get their candidates appointed. These lobbyists seem to have significant influence rekindling the issues that confronted the previous MHF set-up.

The people in various elected position are the same personalities, barring the TM and a Vice President. These people now seem to face a new set of lobbyists similar to what was done in the previous set-up. The faces may be new yet the style of getting key friends appointed becomes their order of the day. Some window dressing is done to make the situation plausible.

For the senior squad, the most capped national player in the country is named as an Assistant coach. What the Team Management Committee did not realise is that he is already involved with MHF's Project 2013 undertaken by TNB. TNB had planned and presented this proposal to MHF and they are to underwrite the program. Further this person had lately gone into team management by managing the TNB team for the MHL. The question to ask is whether this person would be more effective with the Age Group i.e Under 16 or the senior team as assistant coach?

A similar question has to be asked of TNB chief coach who is named both in the senior and junior team as assistant coach. Does he have the time to handle both the squads?

On the aspect of team managers for senior and junior squads it seem to be the monopoly of Kuala Lumpur Hockey Association (KLHA) as both of them come from there. I have always maintained that KLHA is doing a great job but do not destroy them by getting their President and Vice President involved. What makes matters even worst for KLHA is that the national Under 16 coach is also from KLHA. It appears there are very powerful forces at work lobbying for KLHA people.

On the Juniors, a known foreign coach who somehow has the characteristics of "love grass" seems to be given the post of coordinator. Again another window dressing as it is well known that he is literally conducting most of the training for the Juniors. There is no doubt he has wealth of experience but the style of modern hockey has changed from his heydays as a top coach in the world. So why all the shenanigans?

Finally, a highly respected sports personality sitting in the Wawasan Committee, a body responsible for supervising the performance of the national teams, is appointed as team manager of the Age Group. The principles of ethics and conflict may burden this personality in performing either of his duties. The story " is not to trouble, troubled waters" rather ensure there is no trouble.

The question is there is now "mumbo jumbo" decision making which is very evident in the Team Management Committee based on what the lobbyists friends want to be done. The symptoms of the past is already starting to haunt MHF and it may destroy the change that is being looked forward to in MHF. TM may be sucked into it without realising the implications but he must realise that at the end of the day he helms MHF and the responsibility is his.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Congrats EY. Whilst Sapura should walk with their heads high, Malaysia has to seriously consider its standard in hockey.

Surprisingly, the Pantai Hockey Stadium was packed with at least 2000 hockey fans and the roads leading to the stadium were with long lines of parked cars. There was a fairly large crowd of supporters for both EY and Sapura. Obviously, as the earlier match for 3rd & 4th was between TNB and Maybank, the usual TNB crowd would always be there. Still it was good to see a good crowd for the finals.

EY fortified themselves with nearly 20 national players, both Seniors or Juniors and Sapura had with them former internationals including 2 from Korea. Therefore this was a "match" between the Malaysian national team and a team of former internationals. On paper this should have been a "walk through" exercise by EY and the margin of win should have been comfortable. This was not so as the Sapura team had other plans and it seems EY may not have had their day. Though EY started well, overall the game was dictated by Sapura. Indeed against the run of the game EY took their chances and scored twice with a 2-0 lead. This is where EY, particularly with the national team, lacked ideas and leadership in the field to hold on to the lead. On the other hand, Sapura, with former internationals, lacked the stamina but knew their game plan of what to do. If it was not for the EY goalkeeper, the rightful winners should have been Sapura. Indeed the "international commuter" of Sapura scored the 2 goals to level the score. Mind you the goals itself would seem to justify his commuting from Perth. The game went into extra-time and it remained at 2-2. The game was decided by penalty strokes and sadly Sapura's omission of their Korean player was reflected when one of Sapura's other player was unable to convert the stroke. EY won on 5-4 per the strokes.

To many they would conclude that it was a thrilling finals. Prima facie i have to endorse that view. However if we take an analytical position and look at the bigger picture of the nation i.e Malaysia, then the game and the results reflect the deteriorating standards of Malaysian hockey. A full national team struggled to win the national league and finally did so only by penalty strokes!!! If that was not bad enough, despite leading these national players seem to have gone "astray" as to what to do. It would seem the national players do not have a "thinking mode" in their "mindware" particularly as they surrendered a 2-0 lead to the former internationals. More so as Sapura has a reputation that their players do not regularly turn up for training and were carrying injuries.

Indeed at that stage i heard a comment from the crowd that next year EY might as well assemble a World XI for the MHL. To some this may seem a joke but for me this magnified the problem of Malaysian hockey.

The people involved with both the teams are in the MHF hierarchy. They surely must know where the national team stands. Indeed the EY manager is also named as manager of the national team. He is effectively having to manage his EY team at national level. If the clueless performance of EY is anything to go by, the manager and the interim coach of the national team have a major job at their hands.

Today much of what that happens in MHF is taking place in various quarters. The intense lobbying presupposes that nothing much has changed in MHF from the past set-up. Although the TM may be trying hard to move MHF forward, he is still one man in MHF. There is no doubt he has his advisers ranging from former media personalities to others who claim their closeness based on positions they hold, still they are not in MHF to ensure things are properly done. TM has a "tall order" and if the finals is a yardstick for Malaysian hockey, then i think major transformation must take place to put a new thinking and working culture. Failing which, we shall revert to the "dark ages" in Malaysian hockey.

Friday, December 26, 2008

EY and Sapura in MHL hockey finals - "The result would reflect the state of Malaysian hockey".

On Saturday Malaysian Hockey League (MHL) will be having their finals at Kuala Lumpur Pantai Hockey Stadium. The finalists are Sapura and Ernst Young (EY). The game brings to an end the domestic hockey season for MHF.

On paper EY should easily be the winners. Having close to 20 national players of Seniors and Juniors, they should completely outplay Sapura. Their coach is regarded as Malaysia's most successful coach in terms of results, both with EY, and Kuala Lumpur. There is no magic that he needs to display, for all he needs is to get his boys to play their normal game. EY's hockey boss is a hockey "fanatic" and also helms a successful Kuala Lumpur outfit. Having his team appear in the finals is nothing new for him as, in Malaysian hockey context, it is a sure certainty of "day following night", where EY would always be there.

Sapura, the other finalist, is represented mainly by former internationals both from Malaysia and Korea. Outstanding among them are the 2 Koreans and their friendly, reliable former Malaysian Vice Captain as defender. Of the current internationals playing for them. their "most travelled" player shuttling from Perth to Kuala Lumpur is an asset. In terms of coaches there is the unofficial head coach, a former national coach who is there to bring his experience having worked with most of Malaysia's foreign coaches. He is assisted by the 2 Korean players who themselves are also coaches. Then there is the official coach on "paper" who is regarded as a novice in coaching but a renowned back being one of the best "flat" hitters in the world many "moons" ago. Some have titled this match as a contest between 2 brothers as they are coaches of both the finalists. The Manager for Sapura is no "newcomer" to hockey having served Kuala Lumpur and is currently the Chairman of Development Committee in MHF.

Indeed this is not a contest of 2 brothers. It is only a publicity hive to give some interest to the finals. For me it is a clash of current internationals and former internationals which is the bottom line. Indeed if any, the current internationals should win by a big margin as they have been in high performance game situation. The former internationals may have the strength in their mind but i do not think their "bodies" can cope. If for any reason EY does not win with a comfortable margin, or loses, the big picture is that Malaysian hockey is in a pathetic state. That will really be the final outcome of these finals.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A response to the criticism leveled on the National Women's Under 19 Cricket Coach.

I received this anonymous comment on 19th December and could not find a way to edit it before posting it. This comment is in response to another comment under the article dated 3rd December titled "Cricket round up- Is MCA having symptom of terminal illness". Again the fact that the Women's Under 19 team had performed well meant that i had a greater duty to highlight the comment.

I have edited the comment and removed name references. Below is the text of the edited comment:

"Kindly stop criticizing the coach of the National Women's Under-19 team. He has done a fantastic job and is not even asking a sen from MCA. No body wanted the job, even the coaches who were appointed by so-called Development Chairman and his committee and the Exco itself, and he has taken his own leave to coach the girls.. Did you know that!!!

There are actually qualified coaches who have in the past applied to coach and were not even considered at all. So who is to be blamed!!!

He has just taken the Malaysian girls to the Semifinals in ACC Women's Under-19 in Chiangmai. If you are reading the newspapers you will know. ( LATEST INFO:They in fact made it to the final and lost to Nepal)

For your info, under this coach, the girls beat Kuwait by 82 runs, beat Bhutan by 45 runs, beat China by 10 wickets but lost to Nepal narrowly... Their performance is far better than the men's team led by the son of the lovable honorary secretary.

Give the coach and girls a break!! I can only gather that you have a bone to pick with the coach and you are using this blog to release your frustration.

SHAME ON YOU!!! Come on Ghandi, you can do better than this and not simply listen to bad bones.

I am so sad that no one commented that another coach, who has no certificate, and yet picked by MCA to coach the National Under-17 team. He was taken to West Indies without even one day of coaching the boys and he did not even know the names of the players!!."

Firstly, let me congratulate the coach. A job well done, more so as he has done the job out of passion for the game. Equally i admire him for doing it without being paid. It is difficult to find such sort of people these days.

My best wishes for the coach future endeavours.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

2009 in MHF with TM at the helm would definately be better than 2008

Today's daily newsprint gave a reporter's annual report of MHF and he seems to be pre-warning the current President of MHF to be cautious of the affiliates as they are fickle and can change their minds, just as they have done this time by ensuring a new President and Deputy President at the helm. There is no doubt that the affiliates wanted a change but the reporter did not attempt to state the reason. If he had done so, it would have thrown more light as to what was happening with the previous set-up. I am not prepared to go into details but the reporter, in glossing over, may not realise that the affiliates may be undoing what they did in the 2006 BGM i.e rectifying their own mistakes.

Please do not mistakenly believe that I am supporting the affiliates. What I am stating is that the affiliates had the guts to realise their past mistake and were prepared to make the changes. If anything, they must be admired for wanting to make such amends. On the other hand I tend to agree with the reporter that, beyond voting, most of the affiliates are not effective contributors to MHF. Sadly, I am told that is how MHF's constitution is framed and no one has the courage to define a proper role for the affiliates.

Historically the affiliates had their own leagues, and age group competitions in states were big events in school calenders. All these are only memories and slowly the state affiliates also withered away and many exist only in name. This meant that previous leadership in MHF did not recognise this scenario and as years have gone by the situation has become so critical that something must be done. It would seem that TM, a newcomer to hockey, may be the person who can be instrumental in making the change with regards to affiliates and also define their role. If TM has the courage then he will transform hockey by bringing it to its senses and reality.

Coming back to the reporter, once again he has painted such a glossy story of the national team and its coaches. Doing well in the Sultan Azlan Shah tournament with teams who are here without full strength is not a great achievement. Insofar as the Asia Cup, the only achievement is winning it, which would have provided a direct entry to the World Cup. Having a bronze medal in the Asian Games is something that was expected. So how can we praise anybody, if we could not qualify for the World Cup and Olympics, the big 2 events of world hockey.

Again what was not reported is that hockey was brought to disrepute in 2008 by certain events from allegations in match fixing, money lending, incurring of RM 1.6m in debts, the"hide & seek" in bidding for the Junior World Cup 2009, dismal performance of all the national teams, the failure to set up the 3-man investigative committee, scrapping the Champion Schools tournament and surrendering the Age Groups tournaments.

With such stories in the air and the manner in which we have dealt with previous foreign coaches, MHF must realise that top coaches in the world would always have second thoughts. If they have to check with any of the previous foreign coaches who have worked in Malaysia for references, what do you think their comments would be? I think we are caught in that dilemma. This is why MHF is having difficulty in finding a suitable coach either from Europe or Australia. It is also not surprising that they are taking some time even to find a person to fill the position of Chairman of Coaching Committee.

While the reporter feels 2009 would not be better than 2008, I disagree. I think TM has made some good decisions and it would seem that he is having good support all round. I can see changes and I believe he would be instrumental in moving hockey forward. We may not see immediate results but it would pave the way for a solid foundation for the future i.e World Cup and Olympic participation with a growing talent of players in the country.

Monday, December 22, 2008

"Realistic approach and wise decision to guarantee hockey future".

My regular at the blog returned after a period of absence. I do not know whether it is because of the "shawal" month or Deepavali celebrations that had kept him busy. Maybe he may have just remained silent awaiting to see what the new MHF set-up would be doing.

Whatever it maybe, every time this person submits an article (which is titled this time), it is an interesting one. At least for me it opens up my mind to give a serious thought to his views.

Below is the text of the article:

"At the moment, the timeline appears to be very pressing for MHF to meet the short term challenges. Logically speaking, without the Coaching Chairman and the National Coach in place, there will be no clear direction as to where Malaysian hockey will be heading. The importance of these two major positions in charting the future of Malaysian hockey is echoed by the Deputy President recently, “The Coaching Committee Head is one of the most important people in an association”. Hence, these two people are vested with the utmost task to see to the re-engineering of Malaysian hockey is heading in the right direction. When the policy of “right people in the right place” is conformed, Malaysia can be assured of meeting the 2016 KPI.

Before the above can materialise, MHF has to find a suitable Coaching Chairman. This task appears to be a mammoth mission as many potential candidates have turn down the job offer which would have been just a walk in the park in normal circumstance. Without the “guarantee” of support and backing at the highest level, no individual will take-on this responsibility. The fears of repeated scenario where the State Coaching Chairman has the power to decide and influence decisions appears to be the most likely reason as to why individuals are shying away. The provision in the current MHF Constitution would require the Coaching Chairman to “report” to them. As witnessed in the last term, this protocol was actually not in the best interest of the game. It is also noted that the damage created by the abuse has created a spiral effect in the coaching and development aspect of the game. As such the policies and mandates must be re-looked into as to realign the best practice going forward.

The National Coach as mentioned earlier would be just as important and is extremely critical area. The end result in 4 to 6 years will depend on our choice of appointment. The criteria in the appointment process will be extremely vital. The 2012 or the 2016 vision will remain an illusion if all facts are not carefully considered. By now MHF must be wise enough and not to repeat the previous mistakes. History must have taught us that the best coach(s) may not convince the Malaysian players to play at their best if we fail to tap our natural ability. Understanding the Malaysian culture and mindset will give us a better picture of what went wrong in the last 10 years. Malaysia like our other Asian counterparts, Pakistan and India could have been blinded by the European success and their methodology with regards to playing on artificial turf. The Asian strong points and approach has been directly suppressed due to this in recent years. If we look-up in the BBC on “The Asian Hockey Decline” interview with various experts, one will understand and be surprised with what is being said about our (Asian countries) oversight in this entire puzzle.

The big question after the “Most Suitable Foreign Coach” appointment will be, Can the coach tap the Malaysian players natural talent, and change the Malaysian mentality and culture to adapt to his playing styles and methodology. Or it should be the other way around instead, where the Malaysian strong points as the core principal in designing the new style and methodology to approach Malaysian hockey.

In area of development, Malaysian hockey must not take the SUKAN TERAS concept as millions has been spend without achieving the desired results. Instead, the program was full of abuse due to the lack of monitoring and supervision at the centres. The scale of the programme was so huge that the implementation was sub-standard coupled with the lack of “qualified coaches”. At the end of the Sukan Teras (ST) programme we fine that players from the Sports Schools and previously TC Schools are the only “factories” to supply players to the Malaysian Under 16 team which took part in the Germany invitation tournament this year. With that said the failure of the ST programme is highly contributed by the poor coaching standards. However the MHF statistic shows a healthy number of Level 1, 2 coaches but the fact remains that this group are mere “paper chase case”. As such working with KPM will be more effective to develop the game at grassroots.

The new national coach will have his hands full within 5 months. No human can achieve the targets set by MHF within this period. The coming SAS tournament and Asia Cup in 5 months time may be the most challenging assignments for any coach since the Malaysian National Hockey Team is currently still in hibernation mode ever since for the past 2 years in terms of training conformance.

To sum-up, MHF is in a dilemma in their attempt to appoint the Coaching Chairman and also to hire the Foreign Head Coach. With the technology today, it is out in the open that MHF is in a desperate position to hire the next best available foreign coach. This makes our bargaining powers extremely poor and I hope that our judgement will not fail us in the long run.. Looking back at the sequence of events, I can’t help thinking and questioning the professionalism and the timing of the press articles on our interest in Kim on the eve of the Olympics. If MHF is currently in a poor position to negotiate his services then it is an obvious reason to it.

The position of the Coaching Chairman will hopefully be taken up by creditable and knowledgeable individual. Just like the search for a capable foreign coach, the number of potential individuals declining the Coaching Chairman job may force Malaysian hockey to end up with a mediocre individual or approach again. A foreign coaching Director could be a solution to this unsettled issue.

With that said, hopefully MHF has a temporary solution to this. And what are the stop gap measures or is there a damage control plan in place. It is not a wise measure if the appointments are to full up the positions only. MHF may be forced to upkeep his services if the candidate is not the right choice due to the above reasons.

Lastly, other than the above, issues that are still pending as highlighted in the open letter require urgent and drastic actions, or else Malaysian Hockey may just be “Heading No Where” even with the new foreign coach.

Malaysia Boleh!"

Looking at the above article, it would be a sad day if any of the Koreans are considered. One of them is being chased by Malaysia while the other is in town "marketing" himself through various known personalities. They would impose a game culture and tactics best suited to the Koreans. Although China may have quickly adopted it but they may have done so because of their close cultural, physical and mental resemblance. If we need coaches to fine tune the skills and tactics of Malaysians without drastically changing the style then the coaches have to come from Europe or Australia. This is provided that the coaches do not get carried away by the Korean approach, where a foreign coach who was in-charge of the Malaysian team so adopted. He may have achieved some good results but at what expense?

How right the author of the article is about the position of Chairman of the Coaching Committee? The Chairman of the Coaching Committee has a key role to play. If we do not have a person who does have the intellect material and the vision, then the TM might as well say "sayonara" to the idea of uplifting Malaysian hockey to world standards. The name that is "bandied" around may have a "doctorate" but the question is whether he is the right person. The TM must talk to him with his close hockey advisers to determine if the choice is right. One must be fair to the candidate so as when he is appointed he knows he has the full support of MHF.

In the interim what is happening to the senior national team and their coaches?

Friday, December 19, 2008

TM thinks "big" but can the remainder of MHF keep pace?

Last Monday, MHF had its Hockey Seminar. TM was punctual but I was told looking at his facial expression there seemed to be a feeling of disgust. The venue of the seminar was in a cramped space, literally squeezing about 75 to 80 people in a space meant for about 40 to 50. Further it was so tight, it did not take into account of issues of protocol and security. I wonder what were the people in MHF doing?

It seems that the TM did not leave the matter unattended. Rather the TM got the people in MHF to change the venue to the Ballroom of the hotel. TM even delayed the remainder of the event for the day, while bringing forward the lunch. One thing is for sure and that is TM believes in the principle of excellence and the aspect of comfort for work to be done.

What I gather is that the TM set the pace of the Seminar by outlining his own vision of what he expects Malaysian hockey to be. What is surprising is that he seemed not to be too concerned with Malaysia being ranked number 15th. Mind you that is the lowest the nation has been. TM believes we should get to 10th by 2012 at the London Olympics. The matters that gets me worried is the aspect of endeavouring to popularise hockey, making Malaysia a hockey hub and also to be a regional force.

What must be noted is that hockey's popularity in the nation would be directly proportional to the standing of the national teams. If we have a good world ranking then the game becomes popular and many other hockey nations would make Malaysia their "port of call" plus we need not be considered as a regional force rather that of the continent of Asia. In a nutshell, it is the national team's status in world hockey that is fundamental. The rest are "by products".

While the President is thinking "big", i wonder whether the others in MHF are thinking in consonant with the TM. Take the case of the President's vision of wanting to popularise the game, yet the Development Committee seem to be only interested in Junior Development. Further the development seem to ride on TNB's 2013 programme rather than creating another dimension which becomes a supplementary "feeder" system for the Juniors and Age groups. This itself creates a competitive spirit and widens the number in the talent pool. However the current Development Committee look at it from a narrow vision, maybe they are driven by the principle of qualitative approach rather than a quantitative. Still how does one popularise the game?

Then we have the former national coach and currently the consultant i.e helping to train the National Juniors. I am told that he was venting his frustrations of working in Malaysia. Notwithstanding that he spoke of getting kids involved in hockey and the German experience which itself is a good idea. Having spent a good 10 years in Malaysia, I wonder why he had not done anything about it. It is nice to hear other countries experience but more importantly: How can the programmes be modified to fit the Malaysian environment? Maybe one needs another 10 years before a detailed programme can be formulated.

The Chairman of the Umpires Board apparently had done a fairly good presentation. Probably his international stature has helped this gentleman to make his points palatable. The same cannot be said of the Chairman of the Competition Committee. He seem to lack the understanding of other events taking place prior to drawing the various competition dates. What is surprising is the person has served a number of terms in MHF and he is still trying to find his direction.

What was sad is the absence of presentation from the Chairman of the Coaching Committee. The truth is that there is no such person for the moment as the one who was appointed refused the position. A key post is still vacant and it involves the very essence of the game.

Seeing what is happening in MHF is a reflection that the President although new to hockey is prepared to get "cracking" but the others seem to be extremely lethargic. It reflects on the "old guards" who are still there just to hang on to the positions. Work may not be the order of the day for these people. The committee that ultimately be caught up with too much on their plate is the Wawasan Committee. They are going to be embroiled with more work than they can handle.

On the "102" former hockey internationals presentation, it would seem everyone was caught out with their approach of being frank with their views. This must have "stunned" the audience that there was lack of questions forthcoming. Is it because they agreed to the contents or frighten to "open a can of worms"? As such an in depth discussion did not arise. Pity!

Finally I hope the TM does not go on using football as a basis of comparison. Football may be administratively sound in Malaysia but in performance it is lagging behind. Whatever it is, hockey in performance is fairly good in world ranking but at its worst compared to past rankings. This dichotomy must be recognised by the TM and as such football should be avoided to be used as a basis when considering hockey.

I am sure as TM brings more like minded people to MHF, we should see the changes. Until then the various shortcomings has to be tolerated but do not permit it to damage the structures.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

"MCA not interested in OCM's functions"

I received this article as titled above. I think this is something i like to share with cricket lovers and also like to hear their views on it.

Below is the text:

"Olympic Council of Malaysia hosted the ‘Olympian Night’ on Friday 12th December with their sponsor Coca Cola Company. The sponsor pays tribute to the outstanding Malaysian athletes who, through their noble efforts, sacrifices and dedication have brought glory to the nation.

This prestigious award acknowledges the courage, strength and pride of each recipient, as well the Malaysians behind their success and it honours their selfless commitment to excellence and service to the nation through their practice of the noble ideals of the Olympic spirit.

Since its first edition in 1993, the ‘Olympian Night’ has become an important event for the OCM and also the athletes and officials. This Olympian Night was an event to pay tribute to current athletes and honour the best male and female athletes. This year’s selection was based on performances in the Olympiad in Beijing.

The Olympic squad had 33 athletes from five sports qualifying on merit to participate and that was already an achievement that ought to be given recognition.

The highlight of the evening was the award of the Male Olympian of the Year 2008 and the Female Olympian of the Year 2008. Lee Chong Wei, who won a silver medal at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games was, selected the Male Olympian of the Year 2008. The Female Olympian of the Year 2008 was Siow Yi Ting (swimming), broke her own national record in the 200m Breaststroke event by 4.1 sec setting a new record of 2 min. 27.80 sec, in the 200m Women’s Breaststroke Heat, which placed her in 19th position in the overall ranking.

We should appreciate the Coca Cola Company’s effort and contribution towards athletes’ recognition. All the National Sports Associations were told to buy tables for this function. It was a nominal sum. Almost all the NSA attended except for two tables:

No: 42 – Equestrian

No. 23 – Malaysian Cricket association

Why and what happened to Equestrian is yet to be established. But what happened to MCA? The president of OCM who is also the President of MCA should be concerned over this! OCM has contributed a lot to MCA including the budget for the Super 8 held in June..

Could it be that MCA officials are boycotting OCM’s function or are they boycotting Tunku Tan Sri Imram? Well the AGM of MCA should be around the corner and we can already foresee the outcome.

The hilarious part was that Tunku Tan Sri Imran was gracefully singing his favourite lyrics on the stage and not aware of the absence of the MCA officials, or was he not concerned over their attemdance?

A check with MCA revealed that the invitation was distributed among the Exco members.

Why should MCA buy a table and let the money go to waste. That amount can be used for development programme."

It must be a sad day for the President of MCA. His own "army" does not turn up for its own governing body function where he is the President too.. The simple courteous seem to be forgotten by MCA officials, if what is written is a fact. It would be good to hear the official explanation by MCA.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

MHF seem to be taking a "slow and steady " approach, but why?.

November 1st 2008, the MHF Management Committee was elected with a new leadership helmed by TM of Pahang. A seasoned sports official having been involved with Football Association of Malaysia (FAM), still in Asian Football Confederation (AFC), serving President of Malaysian Polo Association and Asian Polo, TM is not new to the game. However he is new to hockey and this probably explains the sense of careful and slow approach. Sometimes I wonder whether it is so excessive that it may seen to be lethargic.

I take this view based on what has been happening or not happening for the last one and the half months. The Management Committee that was elected at the BGM has not met. Strangely naming the various Committees and their Chairman was done after a discussion with the Deputy President and Secretary only. The list was not endorsed by the Management Committee before it was announced at the Council Meeting. Indeed some officials were shocked to see their names there. Rumour has it that the person named as Chairman of Coaching Committee does not want to take up his appointment. This seem to put MHF in an embarrassing position.

Now I understand that there is a Seminar on Malaysian hockey. Yet again I have been informed that the Management Committee is in the dark. They have yet to meet since the election. It would seem the President, Deputy President and Secretary seem to be the only elected office bearers of MHF and are functioning as though their decision is final. There is no official consultation with the other elected office bearers and determining if they have a view on the matter. Some say it is early days and given time matters would settle down properly.

Now the question is who is organising the Seminar, its Agenda and finalising its findings. One must take note that barring the President and one of the Vice President the rest are from the "old guards". Their past performance does not speak highly of them.

There are issues brewing. The timely intervention by TM on the Junior World Cup 2009 infrastructure issue in Johor Baru is highly commendable. Yet, the Management Committee is in the dark as to the progress. Why? Simple reason - no Management meeting. Then there is the issue of the National Coach. Apparently before Beijing Olympics, the Korean coach for China's national team was keen to come to Malaysia. After the Olympics he was suppose to talk terms. Now the rumour is that he would not be coming or his demands for a package is unrealistic.

Not surprising there is another Korean already in town trying to work his way to secure that position. He has circulated his bio-data to various people in and out of MHF so as it can reach the
the right persons in NSC. On the other side TM has openly come out to state that they are looking for a European coach. What a brilliant move but I hope TM does not close the doors on Australian coaches. Again others in MHF are caught out not knowing what is happening.

TM having named people to various position, it would seem some "jerry mandering" has taken place when the official letters were sent. Those who were to be in the Consultative Committee have ended up in the Wawasan Committee and the reverse in other cases. Why the fiddling after the announcement? Further the functioning aspect of these Committees are not clearly detailed while the integration aspects to the structure of MHF is not defined. The President of MHF is named as Advisor to both these Committees. A most peculiar arrangement i.e the President advising personalities who are fully conversant with hockey. A diabolical scenario!

Those who have hockey at heart believe that the TM is being advised by one too many groups and seems to be caught out with the maxim that " too many cooks spoil the broth". Many of them also believe some among them is doing it for their own benefit to safeguard their own territories. The TM has to be cautious, for in wanting to help hockey he must have the right advice. This is something he can only decide and he must do it soon. On the meantime he has to regularise the meetings with the Management Committee and define the roles and positions of the Consultative & Wawasan Committees.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Good bye and farewell Ho Koh Chye, who epitomises the spirit of "Veni, Vidi, Vici".

At King George the Fifth School (KGV) in Seremban, the school motto is "Veni Vidi Vici" - " I came, I saw, I conquered". Datuk Ho Koh Chye was a teacher of KGV and I must say that the school's motto seem appropriately tailor-made for him. Everything Koh Chye undertook in his life he seems to have "conquered" except immortality.

8th. December.2008, about 500 people turned up at 10.00 am at the St. Ignatius Church, braving the weather for the Service. Indeed i heard someone saying that "the skies are even crying". I am not shocked, as it could be the truth. Koh Chye was such a human being and he always was fond of using the term "the sky is your limit". That was Koh Chye's advice to motivate and get people moving and therefore the skies must also have "wailed" for him.

It was interesting to see Koh Chye's KGV teaching colleagues present at the Service. The Headmaster who "headhunted" him, K Anandarajan was reciting privately the qualities of Koh Chye, particularly the "swimming pool" incident, in which Koh Chye had a hand to play. Indeed K Anandarajan in bringing various teachers together to KGV had in fact created a "Sports School" then. Mind you this was way back in 1968. The Headmaster was assisted by the ever loving Ung Tat Hean, the Senior Assistant, who joined in the conversation describing how Koh Chye gets the sporting activities going between teachers and students. Ung Tat Hean felt this kept a close rapport between students and teachers outside the classroom.

The other teachers present were V Kumaraguru, Low Tee Boo, Francis Dilenberg and one Mr Chong. All of them shared the passion of sports and, more so, were friends to the students. Very much in the mould of how Koh Chye would deal with his charges.

All these teachers and hundred others including a sizable number of former hockey internationals gathered at the Service to bade him farewell for his final journey. The cross section of people were unbelievable, even Datuk Vythilingam of Hindu Sangam was there The ever indulging media friends like Citizen Nadeswaran, Terence Fernandez, Johnson Fernandez and George Das were busy in conversation of Koh Chye. Nadeswaran And Terence were concerned that Sports Parliament would not be the same anymore with Koh Chye's demise. Randhir Singh a former media chap and a close compatriot of Koh Chye was in tears as the hymns were sung.

The choice of hymns and the Service was excellent and the eulogy speech by Koh Chye's buddy for nearly half a century R Yogeswaran brought light to the humility, caring and simple nature of Koh Chye in dealing with mankind. As Yoges spoke tears were rolling down his eyes. Koh Chye's daughter Adeline Ho in her speech thanked everyone present on behalf of her mother and brother as she was choked with emotions. Asia's fastest man in 1966 Dr Mani Jegathesan, the last person to have a telephone conversation with Koh Chye was in a sombre mood probably recollecting the conversation.

A special mention must be made of the former hockey internationals. They came from Olympic eras of 1956 namely Wilfred Vias and P Alagendra, while the 1964 had Arulraj and Paramalingam and the 1968 had Harnahal Singh. The ones who came in full force was Koh Chye's 1975 team and it was good seeing K Balasingam in full suit and busy organising the 1975 team as part of the"Guard of Honour". Former players like Franco De Cruz and Phang Poh Meng flew in from UK and Canada respectively. That is the level of respect they have for their former coach.

Then there were the slightly younger generation from the Stephen Van Huizen to Maninderjit Singh (Mike) era who came out to constitute the bulk of the "Guard of Honour". The idea of the players forming a "Guard of Honour" and holding the hockey stick upside done came from Mike, who solicited the support of Yoges. Stephen Van Huizen and Sambu had a major hand in organising the former internationals. The former players did their part to bade farewell to Koh Chye's final journey.

The physical attachment with Koh Chye has come to an end. Still there is the memories of the work he has done for sports and for mankind. This is what his friends must cherish and continue his work for the betterment of Malaysian sports and for the the country as a whole.

May the Lord bless the soul of Ho Koh Chye.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

"Hockey Greats" - A legacy of Ho Koh Chye.

Family Push Hockey Carnival Ho Koh Chye Trophy started as a carnival encompassing the spirit of fun, love, family support with hockey internationals, so as to draw continuous attention of young players. In this way new talents could be discovered and the game can rise in popularity. Its modus operandi was to have parents with their young children together with former and current internationals, creating a big hockey family for the common goal of hockey development (extracted from Family Push Hockey Carnival Ho Koh Chye Trophy magazine).

Reviewing the annual magazines of the Carnival, it would seem over the years the Carnival had been transformed. I understand that the Organisers had done so taking account of the sentiments, particularly that of Koh Chye . It started when the Carnival went nationwide beginning with Malacca. The idea was to honour former hockey internationals, their coaches and outstanding officials. They are to be classified as "Hockey Greats" and the State would issue a Certificate in recognition.

In Malacca, 31 people were honoured and the Certificate had State endorsement and the Chief Minister was the signatory. Among the recipients were Koh Chye's teammates from the 1968 Mexico Olympic namely Koh Hock Seng, Ameenuddin Ibrahim, Jack Johnson and Yang Siew Meng. There were also teachers in the same mould as Koh Chye who were honoured for developing talents in Malacca and these teachers are the likes of Teja Singh, S Kesavan, P Poonenderajah and K Machap.

From Malacca, in 2005 the Carnival moved to the home State of Koh Chye i.e Negri Sembilan. This time it was a very touching moment for Koh Chye. After all, he studied at St Pauls (SPI), taught at King George Fifth School (KGV) and turned out for Negri State in hockey. The equation became more complex, for as a student he played for SPI and the arch rival was KGV, and as a teacher he was coach of KGV and the arch rival was SPI. It does not end here, in the Razak Cup he turned out for Penang and Selangor and on many occasions had to play against his home state. Friends and yet rivals was the order of the day in hockey. Yet he found a balance and there were no grudges as he lived by the principles of sportsmanship. Each time he recognised it as a duty to perform and he had to perform it. In victory he did not gloat over it or sulk in defeat. He must have been a vivid reader of the "Gita".

In Negri, the Carnival was yet again re-engineered to take account of the players who had departed from the world. A "posthumous" category was created for the "Hockey Greats" and the family representatives of Rangit Singh, S Satgunam, Sheikh Ali, C Navaratnam, S Davendran, S Jeevajothy and M T Lingam were at hand to receive the Certificates from Negri's Mentri Besar, who was the signatory of the Certificate. The Negri chapter of the Carnival saw48 personalities who were honoured as "Hockey Greats" and indeed all of them were known to Koh Chye. The ones who played with him were Tan Sri P Alagendra, Peter Danker, K Alagaratnam, Peter Van Huizen, P Mahendran, C Thavanayagam, Wifred Vias, Lawrence Van Huizen and M Joseph. The officials including coaches and umpires he had close links were William Fedelis, G Paramasivam, John Kanagaratnam (has passed away since) and Sivapthasundram. There were many to whom he was a coach or team manager and they are Brian Sta Maria, N Palanisamy, Franco De Cruz, Michael Yan, Stephen Van Huizen, Colin Sta Maria, the Fedelis brothers Gary & Derek, Kevin Nunis, Dr Brian Siva and S Suriaghandi.

These were the people who, in the name of Ho Koh Chye Carnival, were honoured as"Hockey Greats". This was possible because the name Ho Koh Chye was a name acceptable to the hierarchy in sports and to the Government who were prepared to endorse such Certificates.

In 2006, the Carnival achieved another milestone. This time it was in Perak in conjunction with DYMM Sultan Azlan Shah's 78th Birthday. What an achievement as His Majesty is the "Father of Modern Hockey" in Malaysia. Further Koh Chye had an excellent relationship with DYMM Sultan of Perak and YAM Raja Muda of Perak. The Perak chapter saw another innovative idea which Koh Chye was simply excited with and this was honouring parents who had produced 2 hockey internationals in their family. They too were to be honoured with the title 'Hockey Greats" and they are R Krishnan (K Balasingam & K T Rajan), Madam Lau Nyuk Siew (Anita Kaur & Major(R) Savinder Singh), Zainab binti Hassan (Abdul Rahim & Mohd Yazid) and Madam Dhilla Dass (Manokaran Dass & John Dass).

Perak is always recognised as the cradle of Malaysian hockey as a number of internationals and officials originate from here. As such 72 personalities were honoured as "Hockey Greats" in Perak and DYMM Sultan Azlan Shah personally signed each Certificate and personally presented to the "Hockey Greats" or their family representatives. Of the 72, there were 13 who played with Koh Chye at the 1962 & 66 Asian Games and 1964 & 68 Olympic Games. One of whom is R Yogeswaran, a close friend, very much a family member who has known Koh Chye since their Combined School hockey days in the 1950s through to MTC to Asian Games, Olympic Games and a colleague at work in the Ministry of Sports Youth & Culture.

Koh Chye had great respect for 2 hockey legends of Perak who were in the medical related profession and they are namely the late Dato Dr A W E Moreira and the late Datuk Dr Aziz Durairatnam. Koh Chye considered them as very "big hearted" gentlemen who gave significant part of their life to Malaysian hockey. They too were honoured as "Hockey Greats".

23 of the former internationals who were also honoured had Koh Chye as their coach or team manager. This is the extent to which Koh Chye had played a role in Malaysian hockey and in an event named after Koh Chye, his charges were getting honoured. Koh Chye was in sensational form filled with excitement as the roll call for honours was read out.

The following year, 2007, saw the event move to Penang in relation to theTYT Yang Di Pertua's 69th Birthday. For Koh Chye it was a trip down memory lane, recollecting his younger days in Penang. The most important of which was meeting his wife Karen there. The other being, developing that ever lasting brotherly bond with R Yogeswaran and of course the call up to the national team. Therefore Penang always had a special place in his heart and he wanted the Carnival there to achieve something unique.

For the first time ladies including players, coaches and officials were granted the same recognition status as the men to be classified as "Hockey Greats". Probably falling in love with his wife Karen in Penang during his younger days must have prompted this thought process. Dato Mary Ritchie, Shanta Dewi, Anna Khor and the late Dorothy Sibert were the first batch of ladies to be officially recognised as "Hockey Greats". What a transformation the title"Hockey Greats" has achieved.

Koe Chong Jin at the age of 18 was the only Penang bred player to become Koh Chye's teammate for the 1968 Mexico Olympic. As Captain of the squad Koh Chye always made sure that everyone had a fair input into the team There was no pulling of ranks per Chong Jin. Penang honoured 46 personalities as "Hockey Greats" of which 6 of them had been under Koh Chye when he was a coach or team manager. Most of the others were in special category for being long serving officials or players for the state. Koh Chye always had a special mention for the late N Valupillay, the late Hayati Meah, Titus Havelock and Bob Rajendran. They are people he had interacted over the years and had developed a good relationship.

All in all, the Penang chapter had completed the evolution of the categories of "Hockey Greats". In the main this is a legacy of Ho Koh Chye as he not only wanted young kids and their family involvement but he wanted the players and officials who had served dedicatedly for the nation and state to also be recognised. To date 197 former internationals, officials and parents have received the honour of being called"Hockey Greats". Indeed discussion was underway with Koh Chye to look at Selangor or Kuala Lumpur this year. Many other events had come and such it was not possible. Yet, the "Hockey Greats" is a legacy Ho Koh Chye has started and now it is a journey to ensure that legacy continues as would the memory of Koh Chye.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Koh Chye's stream of friends

My mother always said that the best time to know how many friends one has and how much they would stand with you is when the "chips" are down i.e trouble times inclusive of sickness and death. I never gave much of a thought to it until sometime ago. Now with the demise of Datuk Ho Koh Chye. the voices that are heard from various quarters of him and the string of media articles from personalities like Citizen Nades, Terence Fernandez, Aftar Singh, Johnson Fernandez and Lazarus Rokk is a reflection of the extend of respect the world at large has for him.

Which ever way you cut the stories, end of the day it is about Koh Chye and his personal nature. There is no doubt that he has achieved all he can in sports ( save Lazarus Rokk's view of him being short of becoming a Sports Minister) including his grand finale of Chef de Mission of the Malaysian contingent to the 2008 Beijing Olympics. I do not thing that is what that totally measures the success of Ho Koh Chye. All these were trimmings, as the real success was the fond memories he permitted people to have of him for the human qualities he displayed.

The stories that have been told and written of Ho Koh Chye portray his humility, caring nature, lending a ear, easily accessible, advocate of fair play, believer of the principle of excellence and above all the "simpleton" he was. No! it is not inputs to make a perfect robotic person but it was the qualities of Ho Koh Chye. At least those who had the opportunity to interact with him can vouch for it.

Really that is not needed. Just go to the St. Ignatius Church near the Kelana Jaya LRT Station where Ho Koh Chye's body is lying at state for the Church service on Monday, 8th.December.2008 at10.00am. The stream of people coming to pay respect from VVIPs to ordinary and very ordinary folks representing the various walk of Malaysian life is a testament of how Koh Chye has touched the hearts of numerous people. The stories they tell from DYMM Sultan of Perak, YAM Raja Muda of Perak, YB Minister of Sports, Datuk Mazlan Ahmad, Datuk Zolkifl Embong, Datuk Dr Ramalan, R Yogeswaran, Randhir Singh, Citizen Nades, George Das, Stephen Van Huizen, Maninderjit Singh, K Enbaraj, Sambu, Beng Hai, V Kumuraguru, Dr Ronnie Yeo, Rosmanizam, Mirnawan Nawawi, Chandran, Ramu Andy, K Balasingam, Palanisamy and various other people may sound like tales. These people, as they tell the stories have their eyes filled with tears. Some cannot hold it back while others fight hard not to be emotional.

Why? Simply because everyone Koh Chye had dealt with became his brothers and sisters. Young, middle age or old, ladies or men, girls or boys, he gave everyone their due respect and acted in such a manner that they were all part of one big family. It was this flame that was burning in him which lit the lives of everyone. This is the memory he would want us to cherish in the hope that even in a small way we can contribute to the human race and preferably through sports.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Koh Chye - The Negri hockey lad.

The Melbourne Olympic 1956 had a number of Negri Sembilan hockey players namely Wilfred Vias, Sheikh Ali, S Davendran and Peter Van Huizen in the Malaya squad. A young boy of 14, studying at St Pauls Institution was looking up to Peter as his mentor in hockey goalkeeping. Indeed Peter, the national goalkeeper, had been assisting this young lad on the finer points of goalkeeping. The young lad is no other than Ho Koh Chye, whose sudden demise on Wednesday 3rd.December.2008, robbed the Malaysian sporting fraternity of its extraordinaire sportsman, administer, spokesman and true friend.

Within 4 years Koh Chye was fighting for a place in the Negri State squad for the goalkeeper's position from Peter Van Huizen (brother of Lawrence Van Huizen and uncle to Stephen Van Huizen). Although Koh Chye's tutor on goalkeeping, Peter was gracious and readily prepared to give Koh Chye the opportunity to take him on. Peter Van Huizen is a "no nonsense" goalkeeper and if the hockey ball or hockey stick is not removed by him in defence of the goalmouth, the opposing player becomes his target. Peter's sheer guts radiated a fearsome sense that opposing forwards were generally wary to be within a striking distance of him.

Somehow this fear syndrome created by Peter was not adopted by Koh Chye. He re-engineered goalkeeping to an artistic performance by maintaining a level head. This gave him the opportunity to study opposing players and react that milliseconds earlier to stifle their attacking moves. It was always based on fair play and something he became a great advocate of. Guts he had, but he polished it and turned goalkeeping to a performance of fair play incorporating artistic skills and scientific inputs. Notwithstanding the changes he made in his goalkeeping styles, Koh Chye always had the highest regard for Peter Van Huizen, who he believed had set him on the right track. Negri had 2 goalkeepers of different paradigms and the selectors had a tough choice. Somehow Koh Chye was able to save the Negri's selectors dilemma because he had to head off to MTC. Negri's loss became Penang's gain.

At MTC, Koh Chye met someone who would become his long lasting friend and colleague in hockey and work. This person is Perak's gift to Malaysian hockey and is no other than R Yogeswaran. Yoges as he is popularly known, in his haydays was a speedy agile blazing left winger. Down the left flank he used to dribble and run with the hockey ball. His body movements with the stick work and speed thrilled the hockey fans as he cuts from the flank to inside left at the D. Penang through MTC had just inherited 2 of Malaya's future hockey stars and they had the natural flair to play artistic hockey that fascinated the hockey fans.

While at MTC both Koh Chye and Yoges were called up to the National Team and at the age of 20 and 22 respectively, they were on their way to the 1962 Jakarta Asian Games. From here on there was no looking back as both of them were in 1964 - Tokyo Olympics, 1966 - Bangkok Asian Games and 1968 - Mexico Olympics. They had become so close that never a day went by without each other communicating with one another.

Koh Chye did not forget Negri i.e his birth State. In 1965 and 1967, Koh Chye was with the Negri team to lift the then prestigious Razak Cup. Indeed he was the Captain of the 1967 squad. In between for purposes of work related training, Koh Chye also turned out for Selangor, considered arch rivals of Negri in the Central Zone for the Razak Cup.

Koh Chye had no qualms of playing hockey for other teams. He always took the approach that he was in each state for a purpose and he had to fulfill that role. End of the day it was the big picture i.e Malaysian hockey combined with skillful approach, fair play and above all friendship.That was ingrained very early in Koh Chye's life, and he held to it steadfastly till his dying hours.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The demise of an extraordinary Malaysian sports personality - Datuk Ho Koh Chye

Just a few hours ago Datuk Ho Koh Chye took his last breath, and the sporting world shockingly had to receive the news of his sudden demise. To many it is unbelievable news, as Koh Chye was a trim and a fit personality. Many calls were made to recheck the news in the hope it was not our Koh Chye. God's Will prevailed, the unbelievable turned out to be the truth. Many who knew him and had conversations with him mere hours early are totally stunned and speechless.

A hockey international, a national coach, a teacher, Deputy Director General of NSC, Chairman of MHF Coaching Committee, Team Manager of the 1992 Barcelona Olympic team, member of Sports Advisory Panel and recently Chef De Mission of Malaysian contingent to 2008 Beijing Olympics were some of his key roles. His resume is pretty long but all that becomes history as we cast our memories of this unique person.

It is not the list of achievements alone that made Koh Chye such a distinguished human being. It is more his inter personal relationship, his concern for people. Ask most of the hockey players at school or national teams, who have had the opportunity to have gone through his hands, they all would have interesting stories to tell of this caring gentlemen. It is his patient nature of hearing out problems and his non confrontational way of resolving issues that is very much the way he gets things moving. Koh Chye had the science and art of getting out the best in people, yet he is not pushy nor a task master.

The other nature in him was his meticulous approach to issues. He takes a step by step approach in understanding the issues and accordingly he would dissect them to find the"cause" and thereupon the"cure". More often he would direct the response in such a manner as if the whole idea originated from the party responsible for the problem. Remembering all these styles of Koh Chye just brings tears to my eyes.

Having known him for over 40 years, I have not seen a day that Koh Chye lost his "cool". In victory or defeat, joy or sorrow, good or bad, Koh Chye always found the appropriate words to suit the occasion and the temperament of the people. This was the man, nothing would "shake" him or shatter him. The term "cool as a cucumber" befitted his nature.

In the years I have known him, his commitment to family life was second to none. His wife the ever smiling Lee Siew Chan quietly played her supportive role in Koh Chye's greatness. She completely complimented her husband but remained in the background. It is this partnership that helped to further blossom Koh Chye's extraordinary caring qualities for mankind, particularly the sportsmen.

As I sit to pen my thoughts of Koh Chye, many are going to miss him as I am. His presence gives that caring aura and his demise would mean we would miss such a physical aura other than the memories. Maybe we must learn to accept his sudden demise and remember all the moments with him. Again in our own ways we must help to advocate his principles and some of his approaches in handling issues. In this manner we continue the Ho Koh Chye's mission to bring greatness to Malaysian sports. That is the best gift we could give the late Datuk Ho Koh Chye.

Cricket round-up - Is MCA having symptoms of terminal illness?

Having been silent for a week, I thought I need to document a bit of cricketing gossips that I picked up along the way. Strangely, it seems to reflect the lethargic status of MCA as though they are suffering a major illness that is probably terminal in nature.

No! I am not being nasty. The story lines below may help to substantiate my opinion:
  1. Negri Sembilan Cricket Association (NSCA) - NSCA went through an upheaval exercise between April to July 2008. There were 2 set of office bearers attempting to administer cricket in the small state of Negri. The signs of MCA lethargy was already on the cards when this incident surfaced. Very easily they could have resolved it but they took their own sweet time as 2 or 3 people in MCA had different ideas. These people were not interested in right or wrong but the issue was just supporting personalities. Anyway, despite the delay MCA had not much of a choice but to make the right decision and support the right set of office bearers. Well! The issue did not end there. The other group represented by the NSCA's former President i.e a Negri royalty had a legal letter sent to NSCA's bank that the whole issue of leadership is at arbitration with the Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM). Following which NSCA's account of slightly over RM20,000 was and is still frozen. This is notwithstanding the fact that the Sports Commissioner has recognised NSCA's new Committee and also that of MCA. Peculiar to the episode is that OCM is not undertaking such an arbitration and therefore why was such a legal letter forwarded to the bank. To add further salt to the wound, both the Bank and Bank Negara seem to accept the legal letter and not prepared to accept the Government's decision i.e the Sports Commissioner's written statement. MCA is fully cognisant of the matter and other than advancing some funds they remain absolutely silent. What hurts most is MCA President is also President of OCM and sits in various positions and yet he cannot use his good office to intervene. To make matters worst the Central Bank and the concerned bank seem to give credentials to an unsupported legal letter.
  2. Unqualified Umpires - What I call the "Umpires Saga" had its beginning sometime in May 2008. Following that a number of incidents had taken place, and inevitably the national players were involved. Certain decisions of MCA and the manner in which they were made have left a bad taste. The situation has now grown to such a stage it would seem that the qualified umpires are avoiding to participate in most of MCA cricket matches. I refuse to use the word boycott as it is not an official position. So much so in the latest matches unqualified or umpires who have been out of cricket, are being called to assist. All this may help MCA temporarily but not in the long term. They have only allowed the "flame of anger" to burn longer and stronger. MCA out of desperation seem to have lost its focus and so much so its direction. Why not settle the problems with the umpires? MCA cannot because one of its key official is involved too intimately in the issues and MCA leadership lacks the courage to swallow the "bitter pill" and resolve it. Meantime the National Association undertakes its games with personalities who have no right to be there. Now who is going to punish MCA for not doing their job properly?
  3. Malaysian Under 15 tour to Sri Lanka - MCA seem to be scratching the bottom of the barrel for funds. Having freely spent funds over the period in power they suddenly have come to the view that the bottom is not "endless" Suddenly they do not have the funds to sent the Under 15 team to Sri Lanka. What a financial planning? Malay Cricket Association of Malaysia (MCAM) has come to their assistance. It is surprising that MCA has to accept MCAM's help as MCA has been envious of MCAM. Of course for MCAM, the "save grace" exercise fulfills their own arrangement of playing another tournament for this age group. Yet another fiasco in MCA's planning cycle.
The "bolts and nuts" in MCA is so loose that their are just rattling. Their sound like "empty vessels" and just cannot get their act together. The symptoms are there that MCA needs a drastic change. Failing which cricket would find an easy and painless demise. Something has to be done soon.

Monday, November 24, 2008

FTCA - The "star" of Malaysian cricket.

The cricketing fraternity is a small community who probably indulges in one of the longest field game, literally tortured by the weather, the outcries of players plus officials and the applause and groans of spectators. Such has been the "test" that players on retiring display a great strength of character and a good bondage of friendship among themselves.

As time goes on and with the very competitive nature of the game the comradeship that should arise is now part of history. A gentleman's game has given way to devious and rowdy approach. Stars of the game accompanied by senior officials have brought disrepute to the game. Yes! cricket cannot be seen in the eyes of conventional wisdom built on century or decades of cricketing spirit. The modern world which is extremely stressed out seem to have no room for such conventions. It is a "man eat man world" but yet Federal Territory Cricket Association (FTCA) seem not to have succumbed to such prevailing modus operandi.

FTCA in their game against Selangor should have decided the fate of FTCA as Champions of the MCA league. The game was interrupted by rain that dampened the spirit of a number of FTCA players. Decisions made by the Umpires did not go down well and certain FTCA players supported by a family member went into outrage. The best of "swearing" language and the "fits" of temper were in full display. Abuses in and out of the field was the order of the day.

To cut a long story short the matter was referred to MCA and not surprising the MCA Finance Committee had deliberated on the matter As to why, it is anybodies guess? Just an update, the family member who was involved in the outrage is a key official of MCA. Nothing unusual as MCA went on its usual business without making any sensational decision.

The only "flip flop" decision they made was first awarding the Championship to FTCA and then changing their mind. Why the change of mind, again it is anybodies guess? It is not strange but there is a general feeling that MCA's basis of operation is very "dynamic" i.e changes like the English weather.

Fortunately FTCA is made up of reasonable minded officials i.e lawyers, who are great subscribers to the virtues of cricket being a gentleman's game. They believe that players and officials must uphold that spirit and anyone who abuses it must face the "music". Therefore the 2 players from FTCA who displayed their outrage in the field had to face an Inquiry Panel. It would be interesting to note how many other Associations would have brought their own players to a Panel. A very brave and principle minded decision notwithstanding the fact they are key players. Bravo FTCA!

Moving on FTCA jointly with Royal Selangor Club (RSC) had flown in one of the the world's greatest bowler, Sri Lankan Muralitharan. His 2 to 3 days here and his exposure to the young kids plus to the Malaysian cricketing community is surely "cream ala cream" to the Malaysian cricket season. Just being around Muralitharan and having a closer look at his style of delivery is itself like "heaven" sent.

Surely these 2 events shows the level of commitment of FTCA to cricket. Why are they able to do it? Simply because they have the passion and want to do it the proper way. All this comes from the leadership and the people in FTCA. Well done FTCA !!!

National Sports Convention: Part 2 - Sports Schools should go private.

The National Sports Convention had a resolution requesting for the Sports Schools to come under the jurisdiction of the Sports Ministry rather than the Education Ministry. This has been the perennial problem between the Sports Ministry and Education Ministry. While it is called Sports School the control rests with the Education Ministry and the sporting performance of the students is far below achievable levels. The Sports Ministry believes their input is far from properly considered and this is always an ongoing problem.

Before the Sports Ministry embarks on a journey to have the jurisdiction transferred to them, it is wise they review the whole structure of the schools from teaching staff, students, facilities and the curriculum itself. Since the formation of Sports School, it has slowly lost its purpose. The qualitative aspects all round has deteriorated and therefore the results are not forthcoming. I think taking over the schools would create a bigger job of rehabilitation rather than getting straight to the main purpose of sports school.

My suggestion is to permit the existing sports schools to be phased out and while that is underway, the Sports Ministry may want to draw up a blueprint to set up private sport schools very similar to the independent schools like in UK and Australia. This school to be funded by the Sports Ministry must also open its doors to others who are prepared to pay the fees.. A full boarding school with normal school curriculum and squeezed into it is sporting activities. The school timing shall be Monday to Friday from 6.30 am to 10.00 pm while Saturday from 6.30 am to 6.30pm.

A typical day in such a school is :
  • 0630 to 0745 - Fitness runs/ Strength building
  • 0800 to 0820 - Breakfast
  • 0830 to 1030 - Classes
  • 1030 to 1100 - Break
  • 1100 to 1300 - Classes
  • 1300 to 1345 - Lunch
  • 1345 to 1430 - Rest
  • 1430 to 1530 - Classes
  • 1530 to 1600 - Tea
  • 1615 to 1800 - Game /Training
  • 1830 to 1915 - Dinner
  • 1930 to 2130 - Homework and Studies
  • 2200 to 0600 - Sleep time
Obviously there would be re-adjustments taking account of a number of need requirements. More important such a school must have all the teachers living within the school premises and they must be present during homework and studies time to help the students. The meals here should be approved diet by qualified nutritionists such that it aids and abets the growth of the students. Sports science, bio-medical, strength building and mental strength development has to be incorporated into the curriculum.

Equally such a school has to carry a comprehensive electronic database of its students, not only for academic performance but also on their sporting activities including their progress.

Such a school in fulfilling the basic curriculum can then go on to recruit the best teachers who are sporting bias and implement the full needs of a sports school without unnecessarily worrying of the bureaucracy that would otherwise prevail. If the school is managed on a prescribed standard there is no reason why potential sports stars be given scholarships to enter into such an academy.

From the very start the students would be used to a certain "class" and standards which itself would breed the future sporting generation. I think the Sports Ministry must look at this idea carefully.The Sports Ministry has to think outside the box and look at a bigger picture with the input of standards from the onset. The future is not based on mundane process and styles that we have used in the past. We must re-engineer qualitatively in a scientific and corporate manner if we want to produce world class sportsmen. We can and we should.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Sapura - Are they doing the right thing for hockey?

As i completed my views on EY's success which for some may sound critical, i think it would only be fair that i also look at Sapura's approach to the MHL.

Sapura have 2 imported players from South Korea and many former internationals. One of whom has to "commute" weekends from Perth, Australia to play in the MHL Their coaching arrangement includes a novice coach and a former senior national coach.

Looking at Sapura in action, it reminds me of the British comedy "Dads Army". It is a hilarious TV show and how fitting is it to compare Sapura team with this comedy.

The 2 Koreans imports were former national players of South Korea who are now earning a pension for being in the team that was Olympic silver medallist. They function more as coaches in South Korea rather than players. Therefore to end up here as players calls into question what was Sapura's intention? Were they here to strengthen Sapura? If so , was it a good choice? Again the question to ask, why not give other Malaysians a chance or find better and effective imports from which other Malaysians can benefit?

The best of "Dads Army" is seen when some of the former internationals in Sapura play.Their slow movement and the lack of total commitment indicate the spirit of "hunger" is missing. Their fitness is a suspect and they seem to be in the game because of some other necessity.

The best of the scene is in getting a player to literally commute from Perth . What an arrangement and as i have previously stated that this must go into the "Guinness Book of Records". He must be such an important cog in Sapura's hockey mechanism that they need to weekly fly the player down. The question is whether it has benefited Sapura? More importantly, is the player so indispensable?

The bright side of all the arrangement is that Sapura is at least giving a novice coach an exposure under the guidance of a former senior national coach. At least there is someone who seem to benefit.

Here is a corporate group spending substantial funds and yet has Malaysian hockey benefited? Maybe so because at least the league is still in existance but beyond that what is the contribution. This is the question the team has to ask and MHF must also act accordingly. Do not have a tournament because it has to be held. It must serve a purpose and there must be winners far beyond the Champions . Ultimately it must be Malaysian hockey which has to be reflected in our international ranking.

Congrats EY but .......................................?

This week must be a very memorable week for EY. Last Sunday EY won the Asian Champions Club tournament and on Wednesday they secured Malaysian Hockey League (MHL) title. It is something both the Manager and Coach must be extremely proud. No doubt the players must be absolutely overjoyed. All that is left for them is the overall title. With a well packed national players both Seniors and Juniors, EY should have already started to engrave their name on the trophy. Only a "miracle" can permit another team to "run away" with the trophy.

I must document the fact that the EY coach is the most successful coach in the domestic hockey tournaments at club, state or age groups. He has worked hard and at times was frustrated particularly with the old MHF set-up. His prominence goes hand in with his manager who also happen to helm Kuala Lumpur Hockey Association (KLHA). What is noteworthy of KLHA is their development programme and they are really pouring their resources into it.

How meaningful are both these titles to EY? On the Asian Champions Club, the absences of teams from India, South Korea, Japan and China, throws some "cold water" of being called Champions. Of course this is not EY's problem as they are there to participate but not that of a the main Organiser. Therefore as far the teams that were present EY came out tops and that is what that matters. As to why the tournament was poorly represented is very much an Asian Hockey Federation (AHF) issue and they and their affiliates have to tackle it.

As for being Champions of MHL, EY may need to do some form of "soul searching" to determine if it is a meaningful title. This is a team with nearly 20 national players and is able to attract such players with attractive remuneration packages. Although there were rumours of other approaches that were used to bring players to EY but in the absence of any hard evidence i do not want to indulge in such gossips. So, even before the tournament could commence, the titles were a foregone conclusion. The MHL seem principally to provide a legitimacy for EY to be called Champions.

The main person with EY is also involved with KLHA and recently in MHF. These person has a duty to Malaysian hockey particularly with the National League. As the years have gone by this league has deteriorated to such a state that only 3 to 4 teams have dominated it over the last few years. Now EY has packed itself with more national players than required, which calls into question the wisdom of such a decision. Yes! EY can be the winner but is Malaysian hockey the ultimate winner?

What has EY's actions done for Malaysian hockey:
  1. Helping the process of MHL to lose its status and "glitter".
  2. Creating a spiral rise in salaries among national hockey players which does not commensurate with their performance.
  3. Such remuneration packages makes it difficult for others to "match" or discourages new teams to enter the league.
  4. Opportunities for younger non national players have become restricted.
Is this good for Malaysian hockey? Something only EY can answer.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

MHF - Conflict of interest and the universal principle of ethics

Why do National Sport Associations (NSAs), National Sports Council (NSC) and Sports Advisory Panel (SAP) exist separately? Each have their role and function and one should not attempt or endeavour to usurp the rights of the others including creating a conflict of interest which also infringes the universal principles of ethics.

Question what is a "conflict of interest" and"ethics"? These terms that are commonly used, and yet history has recorded that such terms are seldom understood. It probably explains the conflicts that has prevailed and will continue to prevail in the future.

To assist us to understand the terms"conflict of interest" and "ethics", what better way then by referring to "Wikipedia", the internet encyclopedia. There are many explanation for both the terms but the one i am looking for is as follows:
  • "Conflict if interest" - Anyone has 2 duties which conflicts.
  • "Ethics" - It is a major branch of philosophy encompassing right conduct and good life. Part of the term includes the study of what makes actions right or wrong.
Last weekend, the President of MHF, TM, named the Chairman of SAP as Chairman of the MHF's Wawasan Committee and the Director General of NSC as a member of the Wawasan Committee and another MHF 's Consultative Committee. Although both these gentlemen have yet to declare their acceptance, both must be careful. Their presences in the Committees may tantamount to a "conflict of interest" as their official duty may put them in that position.

Many may have various points to mitigate the matter but it is important that precedent should not be set, especially as we are not aware of what is going to happen in the future. So why invite any potential problems. More so as these gentlemen sit in very key official Government positions.

Even if we are prepared to fore go the issue of "conflict of interest", we also have to look into the issue of setting another precedent i.e having key Government officials and Minister's Adviser sitting in NSAs. Today it is MHF but tomorrow it could all the other NSAs. Do these officials have the time to perform both the duties?

They may mean well, but that could be the start of future problems. It is therefore essential these Government officials perform their official designated position properly and that itself would be of great contribution to Malaysian sports.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Junior World Cup 2009 - "The truth had been delayed.".

The co-hosting of the Junior World Cup 2009 (JWC) had been a controversy since the agreement to host the Champions Trophy in November 2009, bidding for the JWC by MHF, the NSC Letter of Support in March 2008 despite FIH award of co-hosting which was made known in January 2008 and the unusual budget of RM38.0 million. All these took place during the old set-up of MHF and under the purview of the then Deputy President of MHF. Probably because the then Deputy President is President of Johor Hockey Association (JHA), Johor Baru became the choice venue.

Sources indicate for MHF and Singapore Hockey Federation (SHF) to bid for the JWC 2009, certain personalities in both these set-ups concocted a plan to enhance both the countries positions. This related to the Champions Trophy which in 2007 was to be held in Pakistan. In view of prevailing problems relating to public safety, the tournament was cancelled and Malaysia became FIH's saviour i.e the new host. This action by MHF was apparently the concocted plan and reached the ears of FIH because certain official of SHF sits on the Executive Board of FIH. Essentially it is a reflection of a "smart partnership" between MHF and SHF.

So what came out of this partnership:
  • For MHF
  1. Organising and participating in the Champions Trophy and incurring a debt of RM1.3 million.
  2. Being given the right to co-hosts JWC 2009 with Johor Baru as the venue.
  3. Automatic qualification for the National Juniors or not they would not have qualified for the tournament.
  4. Providing a "piggy back" for Singapore to ride on Malaysia's past organisational capabilities on international hockey tournaments.
  • For SHF
  1. Assisting Malaysia's case in FIH to co-hosts JWC 2009.
  2. Singapore can display their professional skills in organising a major sporting event and add it as another "feather" to their country's "curriculum vitae".
  3. Singapore Junior hockey team automatically qualifies for the tournament or not they would be decades away from qualifying.
  4. It is a "kudos" to a certain official in SHF for bringing JWC 2009 to Singapore.
Now, let me get back to the Malaysian side of preparing for JWC. The the Deputy President got JHA into the act in the Joint Meetings with SHF. MHF was kept in the dark to a stage that in June 2008, the then President of MHF indicated that he does not know what is going on. Mind you, it was the President's comment to the local media.

Sometime in August 2008, the then Deputy President of MHF invited the media to Johor Baru and proudly presented the new hockey stadium supposedly with the 2 pitches. It caught a number of people by surprise as most were not expecting any progress including myself. It was a brilliantly kept "secret" and in a way silenced the most ardent critics of the then Deputy President. Interesting was the cost and it was quantified at RM15.0 million.

A joint meeting was held in September 2008 between MHF and SHF and the then President of MHF made a "turn around" and indicated to the media that the hockey stadium in Johor Baru is on track and will be ready well before the JWC in June 2009. Similarly, in October 2008 an FIH inspection team visited the site and indicated they were fully satisfied with the progress and there is no jeopardy to the JWC 2009.

TM, the new President of MHF has moved fast to check out the facilities at Johor Baru. The shocking news is the work on the 2nd pitch had not commenced and another RM5.0 million is required. Even more shocking is why such information is "worming" its way so late? Why was this not raised at the recent BGM or the various Council Meetings prior to the BGM? Why did FIH inspection team not raise this officially with MHF? There are more questions but then it shows that the MHF set-up just allowed matters as important as JWC to be in one person's hands. Mind you, it is in the former President's tenure that all these prevailed. Yet! he is heading today's MHF's Consultative Committee.

Whatever excuse can be given, but it is a known fact that a FIH award must have stated the requirement of 2 pitches. This cannot just surface overnight.. On the issue of cost, Malacca Hockey Association (MHA) can vouch what was their outlay for a hockey stadium with 2 pitches. One thing you can be sure, it is not RM20.0 million. It seem everything related to JWC from the start was not right.

TM and a team has to take full control of the JWC organising committee and ensure things are put right. Failing which we are only permitting the destruction of the creditability and image of our country. TM could easily know the truth as most of members in the old Management Committee are still in the new Management Committee. Facts cannot change but people can "colour" it and that is where TM must be careful.