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.