Last Monday, MHF had its Hockey Seminar. TM was punctual but I was told looking at his facial expression there seemed to be a feeling of disgust. The venue of the seminar was in a cramped space, literally squeezing about 75 to 80 people in a space meant for about 40 to 50. Further it was so tight, it did not take into account of issues of protocol and security. I wonder what were the people in MHF doing?
It seems that the TM did not leave the matter unattended. Rather the TM got the people in MHF to change the venue to the Ballroom of the hotel. TM even delayed the remainder of the event for the day, while bringing forward the lunch. One thing is for sure and that is TM believes in the principle of excellence and the aspect of comfort for work to be done.
What I gather is that the TM set the pace of the Seminar by outlining his own vision of what he expects Malaysian hockey to be. What is surprising is that he seemed not to be too concerned with Malaysia being ranked number 15th. Mind you that is the lowest the nation has been. TM believes we should get to 10th by 2012 at the London Olympics. The matters that gets me worried is the aspect of endeavouring to popularise hockey, making Malaysia a hockey hub and also to be a regional force.
What must be noted is that hockey's popularity in the nation would be directly proportional to the standing of the national teams. If we have a good world ranking then the game becomes popular and many other hockey nations would make Malaysia their "port of call" plus we need not be considered as a regional force rather that of the continent of Asia. In a nutshell, it is the national team's status in world hockey that is fundamental. The rest are "by products".
While the President is thinking "big", i wonder whether the others in MHF are thinking in consonant with the TM. Take the case of the President's vision of wanting to popularise the game, yet the Development Committee seem to be only interested in Junior Development. Further the development seem to ride on TNB's 2013 programme rather than creating another dimension which becomes a supplementary "feeder" system for the Juniors and Age groups. This itself creates a competitive spirit and widens the number in the talent pool. However the current Development Committee look at it from a narrow vision, maybe they are driven by the principle of qualitative approach rather than a quantitative. Still how does one popularise the game?
Then we have the former national coach and currently the consultant i.e helping to train the National Juniors. I am told that he was venting his frustrations of working in Malaysia. Notwithstanding that he spoke of getting kids involved in hockey and the German experience which itself is a good idea. Having spent a good 10 years in Malaysia, I wonder why he had not done anything about it. It is nice to hear other countries experience but more importantly: How can the programmes be modified to fit the Malaysian environment? Maybe one needs another 10 years before a detailed programme can be formulated.
The Chairman of the Umpires Board apparently had done a fairly good presentation. Probably his international stature has helped this gentleman to make his points palatable. The same cannot be said of the Chairman of the Competition Committee. He seem to lack the understanding of other events taking place prior to drawing the various competition dates. What is surprising is the person has served a number of terms in MHF and he is still trying to find his direction.
What was sad is the absence of presentation from the Chairman of the Coaching Committee. The truth is that there is no such person for the moment as the one who was appointed refused the position. A key post is still vacant and it involves the very essence of the game.
Seeing what is happening in MHF is a reflection that the President although new to hockey is prepared to get "cracking" but the others seem to be extremely lethargic. It reflects on the "old guards" who are still there just to hang on to the positions. Work may not be the order of the day for these people. The committee that ultimately be caught up with too much on their plate is the Wawasan Committee. They are going to be embroiled with more work than they can handle.
On the "102" former hockey internationals presentation, it would seem everyone was caught out with their approach of being frank with their views. This must have "stunned" the audience that there was lack of questions forthcoming. Is it because they agreed to the contents or frighten to "open a can of worms"? As such an in depth discussion did not arise. Pity!
Finally I hope the TM does not go on using football as a basis of comparison. Football may be administratively sound in Malaysia but in performance it is lagging behind. Whatever it is, hockey in performance is fairly good in world ranking but at its worst compared to past rankings. This dichotomy must be recognised by the TM and as such football should be avoided to be used as a basis when considering hockey.
I am sure as TM brings more like minded people to MHF, we should see the changes. Until then the various shortcomings has to be tolerated but do not permit it to damage the structures.