In January 2008 at the MHF Management meeting, it was reported that Malaysia would be co-hosting the Junior Hockey World Cup with Singapore in June 2009. The Meeting expressed its thanks to the excellent work undertaken by the Deputy President who was accredited for the success. It was recognised that the Malaysian Government's support was required, and the Deputy President was to solicit for it, from the National Sports Council (NSC) to the International Hockey Federation (FIH).
Strangely, even before NSC could provide the support letter, the FIH had already drawn the match schedule. Two places were named as venue and they are Singapore and Johor Baru. Singapore - yes but why Johor Baru. Maybe because the Deputy President is from the state of Johor and for logistic reasons Johor Baru would be ideal as a place to co-host. All these sound as good enough reasons until NSC's official communication to FIH.
NSC in its communication had indicated the wealth of experience Malaysia has in organising international sporting events and portrayed Kuala Lumpur as the ideal venue with excellent facilities including the Bukit Jalil Sports Complex. Johor Baru was not mentioned. So, why such a dichotomy position between NSC and FIH? What is the position of MHF on this?
The matter gets complicated as Johor Baru does not have hockey piches that could fulfill FIH's requirements to host such a tournament. It had been rumoured that Johor would build the 2 piches well in advance of the Junior World Cup and thereby fulfilling the conditions. It would seem to be a fair argument, especially as there would be more hockey pitches in the country and that Johor Baru would get to have international hockey matches. However, the Junior World Cup is in 9 months and the question is: can such facilities be built in time, and could the FIH both inspect, and approve it in advance of the tournament. The key issues are related to who is going to fund the construction, the availability of land and the period of construction. It would be a gigantic task but not impossible, provided the resources are available; and the whole constructionm, including managing, require near perfect skill without any margin of variation or error.
It would seem FIH had taken a major risk to sanction the venue as Johor Baru rather than Kuala Lumpur. I have come to this view as FIH had already fixed the match schedules and venues. Therefore if Johor Baru is not ready or the facilities is not up to FIH requirements would it mean that FIH would revert to Kuala Lumpur or withdraw the co-hosting from Malaysia. Both have serious implications.
If Kuala Lumpur is the replacement than the time and logistic cost scale significantly. The distance between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur compared to Singapore and Johor Baru is the issue of co-hosting, although in the 2002 Football World Cup there was not much of an issue for Japan and Korea. Here the difficulty is the sudden change at the last moment that could disrupt the organisational work.
The worst of the options is withdrawing the co-hosting completely from Malaysia. This would effectively mean that the National Juniors cannot participate as they did not qualify for the tournament and are only in because Malaysia is co-hosting. This would be a major blow to Malaysian hockey.
The other aspect we must be concerned is that Malaysia has always been recognised as great Organisers and things are properly done. If Johor Baru is not replaced by Kuala Lumpur and our status of co-hosts is withdrawn, it is a major dent in Malaysia's international image in the sporting world. Seeking other events in the future to be held in Malaysia would always have this as a negative stigma.
It would seem neither the MHF Management Committee nor the MHF Council is fully conversant of the issues. As late as June this year it was reported in the local media that nothing is happening insofar as the progress of co-organising the Junior World Cup. A very disturbing comment, yet there must have been reasons for it. Apparently, it is Johor Hockey Association (JHA) that is in the forefront of it.
If that is the truth then MHF is setting an unprecedented example that may unnecessarily drag itself into uncharted waters. It would mean personalities are using MHF's name to undertake activities without the proper approval and understanding of MHF. A typical example which seem to spread as "wild fire" is the appointment of the Event Manager. Apparently Singapore Hockey Association (SHA) had requested MHF to select among the 2 names they had forwarded. MHF's representatives choice was Total Sports. As to why they were selected was not made known particularly the details of the deal. The key question is what benefit would accrue to Malaysian hockey.
What seem to be coming out of this co-hosting is that bare minimum of information is being provided. It would seem that the Johor Hockey Association (JHA) personalities are involved in the main. This is a peculiar move by MHF, and is a dangerous trend. It is a national event and the Government is fully supportive of it. Therefore, it must have the involvement of everyone capable, and not just from one state. It is not the JHA that is organising. It must be understood that it is the MHF and Malaysia.
MHF must take a cue from SHA, as they seem to get all the right people involved including their Government representative. They have qualified people who know exactly what they are doing and what they want. So, MHF do not let down Malaysia's name as you have the track record of your national teams performing badly in the field. Please do not repeat it here.