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.

Monday, November 17, 2008

MHF - "Courtesy and Magnanimity."

When the former President of MHF withdrew from the election, he was magnanimous to make way for a new President, i.e TM. Graciously, TM, on becoming President of MHF had the former President appointed as Chairman of the Consultative Committee. There is no doubt that TM did not leave the former President out on the cold but rather wanted to call on his experience.

Now I come to the former National Coach of the Senior National Team. He was asked to resign to make way for a new appointee. What is sad is the manner in which he came to know of the news. Neither MHF nor NSC had the courtesy nor the courage to call him and politely give him the news. While I have my reservations of the National Coach and also the former President, yet the National Coach is a human being and it is only proper that he must be treated as one. Many may argue that as a National Coach he had taken the same approach with players. If that is so, he is also wrong. Two wrongs do not make right. MHF must be above all this.

Having made my feelings known i must salute TM for his statement in Johor Baru after checking out the facilities for the Junior World Cup 2009 at the new stadium. He has indicted as per the Malay Mail dated 18th.November.2008 that the National Coach is still part of the Coaching Panel and his services may be required in other areas. I think that is a polite and the right thing to do.

Sad that all this had to go through the media. Why not such things be done the proper way so as
it is not an embarrassment for anyone. Lets all be gentlemen of sports.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

National Sports Convention: Part 1 - A viewpoint on NSC and NSI

As the week ends, the issues relating to the National Sports Convention which was held during the course of the week has started to sink into me. This is a gathering of all relevant people involved in making sports achieve the expected level of success for Malaysia. Apparently there were 8 to 9 resolutions that were discussed and the matter is to be forwarded to the Cabinet Committee on Sports, which is chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister.

The area that I am going to comment is the resolution relating to bringing NSC and NSI as one entity. The sports fraternity may have their wisdom and reasoning, but before one advances such issues it is more appropriate to do a critical analysis to determine if both NSC and NSI are functioning properly as they remain. If they are then the merger becomes easier as most of the issues would be one of emotions i.e key staff feeling either they are on a winning ticket or at the losing end. If as 2 separate entities they have not functioned properly, the merger, if not properly carried out, may attract bigger problems. Therefore bringing the two under one umbrella needs a careful and thorough study.

As it remains, NSC is the biggest source of funds for sports in Malaysia. Most, or indeed all, National Sports Association (NSA) depend on the coffers of NSC for salaries of General Managers to Coaches to Oversea trips to organisational cost. That is the extent of dependency, and as such NSAs do not have the appetite to source their own funds. This has created a concept of "hand-out" and "subsidy" mentality that stifles the need for hard work by the NSAs to ensure for a degree of financial independence.

Effectively what NSC has done is they have unknowingly "killed" the creative nature of administrators in NSAs to search for funds. This in a way does not permit the various NSAs to appreciate the difficulty of getting funds and as such the pressure for success is not at a higher stress level. Whatever happens these administrators know that NSC is there to fund them.

Although NSC has a tier system still funds are made available. I do not think NSC is aware of the other side of their actions. Their intention is to relieve administrators from the issue of funds so as they can concentrate on the mechanics of improving the standard of sports and the level of success. Man being man, as they find the stress of finding monies is not a paramount matter, it does not mean they would regroup their energy for the betterment of sport. Rather, the "spare time" created by NSC would only further assist in the in-fighting that seem to be a prevalent matter with NSAs. It becomes an issue, of which group is close to key people at the corridors of NSC.

To be fair to NSC, they are very helpful to the stage that their professional and ethical values are completely sidelined. Officials from NSC study proposals from NSAs and then help to finance their activities. At the same time they do not have any qualms of sitting at the various NSAs Management or Council meetings or even becoming Team Manager of any of the National Teams. It becomes a complete "pot pourri" and therefore the lines of each others roles are jaded. It makes it difficult for NSC to objectively intervene in instances of failure. This is something NSC has completely failed to comprehend and therefore they also become a "de facto" contributor to the failures in Malaysian sports.

When it comes to NSI, as an independent entity it is relatively new. As to why a Department became a entity is itself a long story. However if we go by status of professional entities in the Civil Service, then NSI being a separate entity seem to be the rightful thing. It is suppose to be the professional service to sports and it to function it needs greater support.

Most NSAs do not know how to use NSI. At the same time NSI do not know how to market it services to the NSAs. Everything is ad-hoc and therefore the extent of NSI services from nutrition, bio-mechanics, bio-medical to sports science and research is not fully appreciated. People who have used NSI feel that their budget is not fully allocated to allow them to equip themselves to serve Malaysian sports properly.

With all these anomalies, it would seem merging NSC and NSI may not be wise until both of them are organised properly to undertake their function in the highest professional standard. They first have to be an effective structure, not as though it exists because it was set up to exists. For Malaysian sports to succeed NSC and NSI must first start their journey properly else all other sports journeys will be on the wrong footing.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

MHF's National League - "Predictable as ever"

The local dailies with their usual hockey sports writers give a fairly accurate report of the game on the field. Year after year, we read about the same teams, same players, probably plus 1 0r 2 moving and minute changes like National Juniors participating or the Navy Dolphins being omitted. MHF dutiful endeavours to arrange the league in such a way that it accommodates every party including those who should really not even be within a 1000 mile radius. This is MHF, i mean the old set-up.

What is there to get excited with the League? Usually it is completely dominated by 4 teams namely EY, TNB, Sapura and Maybank. Between them, they share the spoils, which, lets face it, is nothing very much, a miserly amount at the end of the day. Economically, it amounts to only a tenth the amount some of the teams spend on a yearly basis to try to win that token prize. Some try to philosophically justify that it as a form of publicity and advertising cost, and therefore go on to stipulate that it is not the prize money that is of real importance.Equally, others take it as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

EY is none other than Ernst Young, one of the big 4 Accounting firms in the world. Their prime mover, a partner of EY, is also the KLHA's President and is fanatically in love with the game. EY has literally 18 to 20 national players, either from the Senior or Junior team. They have sufficient pedigree to carry the League and the Overall title. They have also a highly successful Coach, who has taken Kuala Lumpur to 4 of the 5 National titles available including Age Groups.

While I am prepared to admire these facts about them, i still have to state that EY has been directly responsible for the spiralling increase in salaries of hockey players playing for clubs. EY's purchasing power permits them to attract players from other clubs to them. So if they are able to buy players of national calibre, then their name should be imprinted on the trophy before the League commences. Why even have the League in the first place? Surely it is just a waste of time?

Indeed, many would have greater admiration for EY if they were able to blend national players with young non-national players and allow it to be another breeding ground for the supply of future national players. A process that EY is able to do professionally worldwide, with students under a training contract to become future chartered accountants. Something they are excellently professionally which should be the style and benchmark in the sporting arena.

TNB, the national utility has mammoth purchasing power but they take a professional approach i.e their players must be their staff or from their University. Absolutely an excellent policy which they have adopted since time in memory when "Kilat" was involved in hockey. Strangely, TNB is missing 2 to 3 of their players as MHF had sent them to play in the German League. A policy that is highly questionable, yet TNB is very magnanimous about it. It is probably because TNB sees the bigger picture of the ultimate benefit for the country.

Without doubts TNB is the main sponsor of the League and their President cum CEO is a good supporter of hockey. Indeed he is the Vice President of MHF and he has assistance from a hard working staff who holds the record of being the most capped Malaysian hockey player. This ex-international is the Team Manager of TNB team and concurrently is the Coach of MHF's Project 2013 i.e developing the next generation of players for the Junior World Cup 2013.

Sapura, a name in the telecommunication and oil & gas industry. They have consistently participated in the League and their commitment come very high from the Chairman and Managing Director. They used to have an excellent hockey personality as their Manager but they have parted company. There is no doubt we would hear of him sooner, as he prepares to make his mark in Malaysian hockey.

Sapura, similar to EY, is made up of a number of players who do not originate from their own working environment. They carry a number of former internationals whose movement in the field reflects the total lack of fitness. It is questionable whether they deserve a place in the team at all One notable absentee is former Malaysian Vice Captain, their "towering" defender. Sources indicate that he is nursing some form of injury.

Sapura seem to have a unique set-up with the Coaches. From the onset, the team was handled by a novice coach, a former international who had the best flat short corner hits in the world. With time and the change in leadership in MHF, the former national coach for the 2000 Olympics is making his appearance felt.

Sapura has 2 imports from Korea and have another technical "import" from Perth. Sources indicate that this "import" is a current national player who flies down for the weekends to play the matches. Mind you, he is a Sapura employee working in Perth. Such an arrangement must get into "The Guinness Book of Records", as I do not remember in Malaysian hockey history if such an extensive continuous travel arrangement was ever put in place. I presume he must be the "star" player of the team.

The other team that once possessed great potential, but with time they are inevitably fading. This is none other than Maybank. They are made up of former aging internationals and the need for regular high performance is obviously taking a toil on them. They have adopted a tactical move by playing their home matches at the Seremban Astroturf. Apparently the field is not up to international playing standard and this would prohibit smooth play. What a tactic!!! Needless to say it does not provide a good impression of their coach.

Typical, year after year the standard of umpiring at the League is deteriorating like the standard of the game. The Umpires are killing the game and they somehow are determining the winners. Something has to be done and urgently.

It would seem unless MHF re-engineers the League, it too would lose its glamour like the Razak Cup. It is a matter of time the number of teams participating would also be reduced, and there are symptoms there to see the League finding a natural demise. The new MHF has to do something, and soon, or we might as well just bury the League for good.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Asian Hockey Federation Champions Club Tournament - " Why so many are missing?"

Asian Hockey Federation (AHF) is organising the Champions Club Tournament in Malaysia commencing anytime now in Kuala Lumpur. The champion in this tournament goes on to represent Asia in the World Champion club tournament. Yet! The stronger hockey nations in Asia are not represented. Namely India, China, South Korea and Japan. These countries are 4 of the top 6 nations in Asia.

Some say other than India the other 3 nations despite good national teams, do not have an elaborate national league.It is probably for that reason they have opted out. Still it does not answer why India's representative is missing.

Other sources indicate that the AHF's Secretariat is weak, which means the paper work and communication were not prompt enough to get the message to the respective nations. Is this a fact? It is difficult to verify but such statements are quite common as axes are grind for whatever reasons. More so as interested parties watch for events to unfold and notice for any potential fault in the event.

AHF, on the other hand,has to take cognisance of the fact that two thirds of the top 6 nations in Asia are not represented. AHF has a duty to other national affiliates and hockey fans, as to the reason why the tournament is under represented. If anything, it makes this tournament in Kuala Lumpur a 2nd rate event. The issue is further magnified when AHF permitted Malaysia's National Juniors to participate.

All these teaches us of Asia's past mistake in administration of hockey. In the late 1960s and 70s Asia willingly agreed with the European nations to turf hockey, without realising the impact including the significant costs of infrastructure and its maintenance. When it was grass hockey, everyone from wealthy to the poor could easily play the game anywhere and it was a delightful sight. By easily surrendering to turf hockey, within a short spell Asia lost its dominance in the game. Now the Champions in hockey originate from developed countries as oppose to developing countries.

Why? The decisions made in the late 60s and early 70s have paved the way for hockey to become an expensive game. Forget the cost of building and maintaining hockey infrastructures which is highly astronomical, rather look at the cost of equipping a modern day hockey player. The cost at the minimum includes turf shoes, shin guard, hockey socks, tooth guard and hockey sticks. Reasonable quality hockey items would be totalling around RM500 and above. Throwing in the cost of renting turf grounds, is hockey an affordable game for the people? Kindly look through the eyes of the majority of the population in a developing country.

I had to raise this aspect because, however indirectly, we permit the Asian continent to lose its position in achieving the desired results. Without having the top 4 nations, would the ultimate winner of this tournament be worthily called Asia's Champion Club. Can such a winner carry Asia's pride in hockey to the World Tournament? AHF has the responsibility to safeguard it.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Malaysian Hockey - "Truth must be known, to move forward".

"Malaysia Boleh", a regular visitor to the blog was on silent mode for sometime. Probably awaiting to see the results of MHF's election. Now there is certainty with change in leadership, the writer must feel there is a platform for his views to be considered.

Read his article as there are some interesting comments that need to be taken aboard. Text of the article is as follows:

"At the 1st of November MHF elections, the wish for a paradigm of change by the Malaysian hockey fraternity finally materialised. Congratulations to the newly elected members and hope that the thrust and confidence vested upon them will not be abused like the previous set-up.

Immediately the TM has open up a new dimension with his vision and proposal plans as to how the game can benefit with a professional approach. It is a great and timely plan but we must change our mind-set and implement the best practices if we hope to see a better future in Malaysian hockey.

Interestingly, barely into the second week of “change” we are witnessing the same scenario that shock Malaysian hockey to a state where we are today. Individuals not in MHF are believed to be directly “charting” the future of Malaysian hockey again.

The 102 has done an excellent job in putting forward the proposals but the paradigm of change can only be completed if the core processes and positions are carefully implemented and appointed from hereon. The culture of putting one ahead of the game must not be condoned again. Parties with vested interest trying to penetrate into the system must be “put-down” immediately before the same damage is repeated. Individuals and parties that are empowered to put the system in order must act swiftly and honourably before the many opportunists can make their moves and destroy hockey.

“The Right People in the Right Places” in this hay stack will be fundamental as the actions and decisions may not be “pretty” in getting the house and national team in order. People that are closely associated or have vested interest may not be suitable at this point of time in the cleaning-up process as they may not look at the big picture or think outside the box.

In this regards, will there be a second chance for the existing shirkers and cronies going forward? Since the Sports Minister and NSC are looking at 2012, the right thing to do will be cutting losses now! This can only be right since the government has invested heavily in sports and MHF must start afresh by weeding out the rotten apples to push for change to justify future support. The match fixing allegations must be a priority area otherwise the best coach in the world will be of no use. With that being said what happens if the players temporary change their ways when pressured to undergo a rehab program but choose to continue with their gambling activities or alcohol abuse practises after that? As we all know gambling is one of the evil that mankind can’t resist. Can we continue with the previous MHF stand of not making a decision by saying that it is a player’s personal matter or life style? The MHF poor show of authority to tackle this issue has actually created this mess and amplified the root of the problem which eventually saw them loosing their position / jobs! Clubs also have a role to play in all this mess. Players can not continue to be spoiled by the clubs with advance payments that directly encouraged them to loose focus and direction. The power of money can destroy the game knowing the mentality and discipline of the Malaysian players. The clubs must exercise more responsible and prudent from hereon since TM has plans to turn the clubs a professional outfit .

Malaysian culture and players’ strong point must also be considered seriously in the process of decision making to hire the most suitable foreign coach. The player’s instinct to take-on defenders, skill and speed are some of the qualities which are very suiting for the current modern hockey whereby the rules are changed and designed to popularise the game. Coincidently the change to the rule compliments Malaysian players’ strong points if we know how to play the game to our advantage. It is out in the open that Kim Sang-ryul is earmarked as the new Malaysian Head Coach, hopefully he is aware of what he did not possess when he coached Korea and China before this. The last 3 previous predecessors failed to tap the Malaysian natural qualities looking back at how the game was played previously.

In area of development and high performance at state level there is too much to do. We are lagging in all areas i.e. in respect of readiness of coaches, fundamental basics of players etc. Experience and trained “drivers” are also not readily available to execute the core processes. What we see today are the complications of years of non-structured development of coaches and players.

Obviously Malaysian hockey has the potential to break into the top 10 in the near future. What we practice and embark on hereafter will determine how fast and where we will be in the next 2 years. Looking at the current scenario, the easy guide to will be what is our AREA of PRIORITY in the BIG PICTURE in order for us not to fail in the medium and long term missions. Good luck to Malaysian hockey and I always believe Malaysia Boleh!"

The writer has given an honest opinion. Will MHF consider his points? More importantly is NSC and the Advisers to TM do so? I include both these group as they must have been the parties who would have given the initial support for TM to take on the post of MHF President. Everyone wants to see Malaysian hockey flourish locally and internationally. The point is whether we have a good roadmap and the right people?

The new danger that lingers in MHF is that everyone wants to be near the TM. Those who can eloquently present themselves may have the initial advantage. As time progress, if such people are only "talkers" and not "doers" then Malaysian hockey would only continue the downward spiral. The TM must be aware for he has probably seen such people when he was in FAM.

Many have talked in the past but there is only a selective few who could articulate their views in writing and prepare comprehensive papers. In hockey, the original party was the people connected to the Wawasan document and now the 102 Group's proposal. The difference being the 102 Group's document is more recent and very comprehensive i.e critical yet practical with positive and practical recommendations.

The writer is right. Malaysian hockey can move forward but...............................?

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Junior World Cup 2009 - Who is in command in MHF?

The Junior World Cup 2009 (JWC) for a strange reason was the bastion of Johor Hockey Association (JHA). As mentioned previously the whole issue of bidding and co-hosting with Singapore and Johor Baru as a venue is filled with sufficient controversy. Back then, such things were possible, as the former Deputy President of MHF was and is still the President of JHA. Now, that "The Change" has taken place in MHF, it would be good to know how the Malaysian side of JWC organisational structure would line up.

Mind you, leaving a world tournament solely to an Affiliate without careful supervision and control by the parent body is inviting trouble. The controversy of bidding itself showed the "hide & seek" that was played with MHF and NSC. Of course both parties are keeping quiet for obvious reasons.

Since "The Change" has taken place it is only appropriate that the new MHF take full control of the organisational aspects of JWC. I recommend a status Audit be done as take over is done. This would help both the outgoing and incoming organising teams to know the exact situation. The blaming exercise later need not have to commence if this is properly done.

As for the controversy, whether a "Commission for Truth" is required to finally lay to rest the issues relating to bidding. It should not be seen as a vendetta campaign but rather to ensure that, in future, policies and procedures are in place to avoid any such acts ( if there is truth to it).

President elect Obama had moved with his transition team the day after the election. I am waiting to see how the new MHF is going to move - both when, and on what agenda.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Can a New (But Old) Korean Coach Really Salvage Malaysia's Pride in Hockey?

Rumour has it that NSC has finalised the terms for the appointment for a renowned Korean coach as Malaysia's National Coach. This Korean has just completed his contract with China after the Beijing Olympics. Prior to that he was the National Coach of Korea and had great success with them.

This Korean comes from the old school of thought in hockey. A fanatic in relation to discipline, fitness and courage, he tends to expect players to follow the latter of his instruction. He is not a great believer of the principle of mutual respect between Coach and players.There is only one way i.e his way and that is the respectful way. Very much a Korean way. Therefore dressing down players who fail to deliver or fail to follow instruction in the field is not an unusual sight.

The use of modern technology like lactic acid built up or recovery period or the presences of certain muscles for explosive runs are not very much of his forte. The demands of hockey has gone beyond certain levels and the use of Sports Science, Bio Mechanics, Psychology, Nutrition, Strength built-up and other related fields which contribute to player performance. This, Malaysia is totally lacking and any new coach must bring such expertise into the country.

This Korean is a close friend of the current German hockey consultant for the Malaysian national team and they two are of the same mould. Principally their views in hockey, i.e modern hockey, is a number of years behind. This explains why many better hockey nations do not solicit their help. Indeed even in their own countries they find them below the current level of coaching techniques and their services are not required.

Despite all these NSC still seek their services. Their tactics and style is too well known and their failure to re engineer their approach permits the better hockey nations to see through the holes in these Coaches strategy. If Malaysia want to remain in the lower end of the rankings i.e between 12 to 20, the Korean is the right person. His past records is good but that is the past and the game of hockey has moved on faster.

If NSC brings him, then Malaysia might as well forget the dream of being a world class nation in hockey. 102 Group on the request of the Minister had prepared a proposal and they had indulged on the issue of selection of Coaches. I advise NSC to read and then determine if what NSC is doing is for the future of hockey or another ad-hoc operation to fill the gap as temporary resolution to the problem.

I seriously think NSC themselves have to have a proposal on them to see if they themselves are doing the right thing. Maybe we should ask former internationals from various sports to put an "open letter" on NSC with a signature campaign. Maybe with that the Minister of Sports may seek a proposal and that could give an opportunity to serious review NSC's operational methodology.

Come! Come! NSC look at the bigger picture and the years ahead. Do not get caught with past big names. Look at the Australians, the Dutch and the latest Germans and understand how they got to the top and are sustaining it. Modern Coaches from these countries may help to salvage Malaysian hockey and sustain it at world class.

Aftermath of MHF Election - "Scramble for appointments".

Its coming to 1 week after the euphoria of the change in the leadership in MHF's top echelon. 2 new faces and the rest are the same. A new President, and a new Deputy President, but of an old face. Except for a new Vice President from Negri Sembilan, the rest have been a fixture of MHF for the last 2 years. Yes! The "Stop the top 2 of MHF from being re-elected" campaign worked. That campaign paid off, but the question is: "Will Malaysian hockey improve to world class?"

The new President, TM, has outlined his Agenda after the BGM. It is the President's Agenda but is the Management Committee committed to it? To many Affiliates present they were wondering whether the TM unilaterally spoke about the future or was it based on discussions with some of the key Office Bearers. I ask this question as there seem to be a number of Committees coming into existence outside the ambit of MHF Constitution. The so called Consultative and Wawasan Committees have been highlighted and the former President is to Chair one of it. It would seem that the TM had not mentioned their role and how it fits into the structure of MHF. More importantly, who appoints them? Is it Advisory? If so to TM or to MHF's Managemen Committee? These are important questions as the Consultative and Wawasan Committees may usurp the powers of the Management Committee. Problems may surface once the "honeymoon" period is over.

Most of these questions would be answered when the 1st Management Committee meeting is held. Sources indicate that such a meeting may not materialise, rather a Council Meeting may seem to be a greater priority. A strange process as one would have thought a consensus would be obtained at a Management Meeting before a Council Meeting. May be this is the new way of doing things in MHF.

Appointments to the various other Committees have to take place and the scramble has started. A number of known hockey or sports related personalities commenced the influencing exercise to get their friends in as Chairman of Coaching, Development, Umpires Board or as Coaches of the various National Teams or its Managers. A lot of these people sat on the sideline without lifting their fingers to help to bring the change.Yet, when the change had taken place they crowd key Office Bearers to influence them on various appointments.

The 102 Group enunciated the philosophy of "The right person in the right position". I hope this becomes an adopted philosophy with MHF. Rather being influenced by friends or other related parties with their own agenda, MHF must do the right thing in the proper way for Malaysian hockey. Failing which, the so called "change " becomes an useless exercise as hockey continues to deteriorate. This is what I have to bring to the notice of TM and his Management Committee.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

102- Former Hockey Internationals and their Proposal

The group calling themselves 102 former hockey internationals undertook an unique and unprecedented historical exercise of an "open letter", with signatures from 1o2 former Malaysian hockey internationals, addressed to YAB Deputy Prime Minister, as Chairman of Cabinet Committee on Sports and also to the Minister of Youth and Sports, bringing to their attention the deteriorating state of Malaysian hockey. Their call attracted significant attention particularly by the Minister himself.

Apparently in meeting them the Minister wanted the group to put their views in writing and literally wanted a proposal on how best to overcome Malaysian hockey's fortune taking account of the current predicament. They were given a time period of a month to undertake the task.

The group was serious about the call to do something for hockey and they fulfilled their promise and was ready with their proposal. The arrangements to get a formal presentation to the Minister was only possible after the Parliament reconvened and presentation was done on the 3rd week of October.

Now that the formal presentation is over and the so called tenure of the group has ended, today they have posted the proposal on their own blogspot. As to why now, and not much earlier, the reason was to avoid having any influence on MHF's election. Sources indicate that the group wanted to remain independent of the election.

If parties are interested in wanting to read the proposal, please visit:

Those who have any comments on the proposal kindly post your views and I shall endeavour to publish them.