Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Junior Hockey World Cup - Murky Depths of Organisational Confusion

On Saturday, the 30th of August, I wrote an article entitled "MHF peculiarities in organising the Junior Hockey World Cup". Today one of the morning dailies felt appropriate to bring to Malaysian sports fans certain intricate news of the Junior Hockey World Cup and in particular regarding the MHF's commitment on it.

The article, titled as: "Malaysia's position as host in doubt", indicates that Singapore as co-hosts are prepared to go alone as host if Malaysia fails to show progress in honouring its bid to FIH. Apparently Malaysia had promised 2 new stadiums in Johor for the tournament when they submitted the bid and it is now part of the Letter of Award from FIH. In 10 months the tournament is to commence and there is no sign of any physical movement on the construction of the stadium.

If you care to read my last 3 articles on Junior Hockey World Cup, you would gather that I have used certain key words to describe what MHF seem to be doing:
  • Confusion.
  • NSC kept in the dark.
  • Peculiarities.
In essence, I was attempting to highlight that there were some confusion within the MHF itself as to how the whole issue of Junior Hockey World Cup came to Johor Baru, when the NSC's letter of support on behalf of the Malaysian Government wanted Kuala Lumpur as the Malaysian venue. The peculiarity is that the NSC's letter was sorted as a support for the bid 4 months after the FIH awarded hosting of the tournament jointly to Singapore and Malaysia.

Without being privy to the bidding documents submitted to the FIH by the MHF, by their own, or jointly with the Singapore Hockey Federation (SHF) , it seems that the MHF's agreement to organise the Champions Trophy had something to do with the award of Malaysia as a co-hosts. Therefore lets look at the chronology of events:
  • On 12th.September.2007, FIH decided it was impossible to have the Champions Trophy in Lahore, Pakistan.
  • On 27th.September.2007, the President of FIH announced that Malaysia agreed to host the Samsung Champions Trophy 2007 in Kuala Lumpur.
  • On 13th.November.2007, the FIH Executive Board Meeting in New Delhi approved the Junior World Cup to Singapore and Malaysia. Since both the Organisers would directly qualify, FIH decided that 2009 Men's Junior World Cup will have 20 instead of 16 teams.
  • In January 2008, the MHF Management Committee were informed that Malaysia was selected as co-hosts with Singapore for the 2009 Junior World Cup and the MHF has obtained the Government support for it.
  • In mid March 2006, the NSC forwarded a bid support letter addressed to the FIH, stating that Kuala Lumpur has the facilities to organise the event, and the experience of organising similar, or larger, international events. The letter was given to the MHF so as to attach as part of its bid.
  • ON 27th & 28th. March.2008, the FIH Executive Board met in Lausanne, Switzerland and confirmed the Match Schedules with Singapore and Johor Baru as the venues.
There are 2 elements in the chronology that is interesting:
  1. The January 2008 MHF Management meeting did not cite the FIH's Letter of Award.
  2. The FIH announced the award to Singapore and Malaysia in November 2007, while the support letter from NSC for purposes of bidding was given 4 months after the award in mid March 2008.
Why I have raised this is because it seems very strange how the MHF bids for an international event without a Government support letter. Indeed if memory serves me right, there is an understanding that the Government must be officially notified before any National Sports Associations bid for international events if they want Government's support.

In the MHF's case a support letter was given as though it was for purposes of a bid despite the fact there was already an award. As to why the contents of NSC's letter was such, maybe it was because the full facts may not have been made available to them, or the MHF wanted to find a way to overcome their mistake of not obtaining the Government's consent before bidding. So the NSC's letter may provide an excuse that the MHF had followed the procedures properly.

Equally, how did Johor Baru come into the equation as Malaysia's venue. The NSC's support letter cited Kuala Lumpur, as the full facilities are available here. Therefore, there would only be minimum capital expenditure. Having it at Johor Baru, with 2 stadiums inclusive of Bowling Alleys, and a Hockey Academy, must cost at least a minimum of RM50 million. The question is whether it is sensible to spend that amount of funds in this period. Even if we have such funds it should be put to the much better use of developing world class players not world class facilities with 3rd class players.

It would seem the MHF themselves are loss as to what is happening in the Junior World Cup. They have left it to one person who seems to choose to do what he wants. The Government and the nation is misled. Now the nation is put in an embarrassing spot because of the uncalled for commitments of the MHF. As if the MHF had already embarrassed the nation with the dismal performance of the various National teams, now it once again seems to have maneuvered itself into a spot on behalf of the country. How long should we tolerate all this?

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