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.

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