Thursday, December 4, 2008

Koh Chye - The Negri hockey lad.

The Melbourne Olympic 1956 had a number of Negri Sembilan hockey players namely Wilfred Vias, Sheikh Ali, S Davendran and Peter Van Huizen in the Malaya squad. A young boy of 14, studying at St Pauls Institution was looking up to Peter as his mentor in hockey goalkeeping. Indeed Peter, the national goalkeeper, had been assisting this young lad on the finer points of goalkeeping. The young lad is no other than Ho Koh Chye, whose sudden demise on Wednesday 3rd.December.2008, robbed the Malaysian sporting fraternity of its extraordinaire sportsman, administer, spokesman and true friend.

Within 4 years Koh Chye was fighting for a place in the Negri State squad for the goalkeeper's position from Peter Van Huizen (brother of Lawrence Van Huizen and uncle to Stephen Van Huizen). Although Koh Chye's tutor on goalkeeping, Peter was gracious and readily prepared to give Koh Chye the opportunity to take him on. Peter Van Huizen is a "no nonsense" goalkeeper and if the hockey ball or hockey stick is not removed by him in defence of the goalmouth, the opposing player becomes his target. Peter's sheer guts radiated a fearsome sense that opposing forwards were generally wary to be within a striking distance of him.

Somehow this fear syndrome created by Peter was not adopted by Koh Chye. He re-engineered goalkeeping to an artistic performance by maintaining a level head. This gave him the opportunity to study opposing players and react that milliseconds earlier to stifle their attacking moves. It was always based on fair play and something he became a great advocate of. Guts he had, but he polished it and turned goalkeeping to a performance of fair play incorporating artistic skills and scientific inputs. Notwithstanding the changes he made in his goalkeeping styles, Koh Chye always had the highest regard for Peter Van Huizen, who he believed had set him on the right track. Negri had 2 goalkeepers of different paradigms and the selectors had a tough choice. Somehow Koh Chye was able to save the Negri's selectors dilemma because he had to head off to MTC. Negri's loss became Penang's gain.

At MTC, Koh Chye met someone who would become his long lasting friend and colleague in hockey and work. This person is Perak's gift to Malaysian hockey and is no other than R Yogeswaran. Yoges as he is popularly known, in his haydays was a speedy agile blazing left winger. Down the left flank he used to dribble and run with the hockey ball. His body movements with the stick work and speed thrilled the hockey fans as he cuts from the flank to inside left at the D. Penang through MTC had just inherited 2 of Malaya's future hockey stars and they had the natural flair to play artistic hockey that fascinated the hockey fans.

While at MTC both Koh Chye and Yoges were called up to the National Team and at the age of 20 and 22 respectively, they were on their way to the 1962 Jakarta Asian Games. From here on there was no looking back as both of them were in 1964 - Tokyo Olympics, 1966 - Bangkok Asian Games and 1968 - Mexico Olympics. They had become so close that never a day went by without each other communicating with one another.

Koh Chye did not forget Negri i.e his birth State. In 1965 and 1967, Koh Chye was with the Negri team to lift the then prestigious Razak Cup. Indeed he was the Captain of the 1967 squad. In between for purposes of work related training, Koh Chye also turned out for Selangor, considered arch rivals of Negri in the Central Zone for the Razak Cup.

Koh Chye had no qualms of playing hockey for other teams. He always took the approach that he was in each state for a purpose and he had to fulfill that role. End of the day it was the big picture i.e Malaysian hockey combined with skillful approach, fair play and above all friendship.That was ingrained very early in Koh Chye's life, and he held to it steadfastly till his dying hours.

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