Sunday, December 27, 2009

"Wanted" - Coach for Malaysian cricket

I received this comment for another article and i think the comment is quite "hilarious" that it needs to be independently highlighted. Obviously, the writer is taking "pot-shots" at Malaysian Cricket Association (MCA) on the issue of the coaches.

Mind you, MCA had and is still fumbling with the issue, particularly the manner in which they had "dumped" their long standing local coach. In desperation they tried to get him back but at MCA's pathetic old terms. Apparently the coach had "set" his terms, which according to sources seem "very reasonable". Indeed insiders indicate it is much less than the "claims" made by others or compared to certain key staff salary. Maybe the "small figure" does not attract the attention of the hierarchy in MCA.

Below is the text of the comment and i have formatted it accordingly:

"Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Malaysian cricket officials seem to have lost the ...":

Wanted Cricket Coach for Malaysia Cricket

  1. Benefits: Free Lodging,
  2. Free car during contract period,
  3. Free parties at DP's hse,
  4. Can come for training after the schedule time,
  5. Free call to your Country,
  6. Every meetings you attend,
  7. You are entitled to get 4 can beers.
  8. Basically you will get Holiday package in 2 months contract.

  • Requirements:Degree in Haanji ( YES SIR ),
  • We are looking for a person who really can enjoy holiday.
  • You must be Management Coach,
  • You only can listen and follow what Management say's.
  • You can't be player's coach.
  • You must sit away from player's when match going on.
  • You must be talkative.
  • Your must work under supervision of DP.

Please contact Cricket Malaysia if you qualified for above requirements. "

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Re: Coaches - Is there a "selling" plan for someone to be appointed?

Below is a comment i had received and i want to share it with the readers of the blog. The comment seem to "throw" a view that takes on the issue directly.

Is there truth in the comment? For you all to judge.

Text of comment is as follows:

"Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Re: Appointment of foreign coach - "Could it be an...":


It is very hilarious to following this article!. The last few comments are also very interesting to note. Other blogs are promoting their choice of coaches, and there are also some coaches who are "selling" themselves.

Your regular comment about power struggle in the management level of the MHF has now shifted to the coaches?

Some comments are posted by the coaches themselves or the working group judging by the contents.

I hope the delay in MHF to hire the foreign coach will not trigger a situation where the coaching qualities of the respective teams are compromised.

Frankly speaking we may not even secure the intended foreign coach judging by the way the “potential candidate’s” predicament of having to endure the news leak before the appointment.

Malaysia may just have to hire a local! But how many locals are actually qualified and ready? "

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Re: Appointment of foreign coach - "Could it be an act of sabotage"

I had received a stimulating comment for my article titled: Does MHF officials learn from their past mistakes. The article was dated 15th December and questioned the manner in which some key MHF officials had acted every time it came to the appointment of a foreign coach for Malaysian hockey.

The comment seem to bring a new paradigm into why this may have happened. Although speculative in nature it seems to introduce the concept that these could be "acts of sabotage". Could this be a possibility? I think it is "far fetched" but it is still worthwhile to study the issues that has been raised in the comment.

Below is the full text of the comment:


When 'screw-up' is consistently practiced then it is not a screw-up but should be taken as an act to sabotage or destroy the game within the association.

What we see is individual(s) acting beyond their jurisdiction or permitted role in trying to gain out of hockey.

"Sabotage is a deliberate action aimed at weakening another entity through subversion, obstruction, disruption, or destruction. In a workplace setting, sabotage is the conscious withdrawal of efficiency generally directed at causing some change in workplace conditions. One who engages in sabotage is a saboteur."

An interesting comment. What attracts me in the comment is the aspect of "consistently practised". Can we be certain that repeated mistakes are consistent practises? The whole matter is "mind blogging".

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Does MHF officials learn from their past mistakes?

Just prior to the 2008 Beijing Olympics, it was rumoured that a renowned South Korean coach, then with China is being "head hunted" to join Malaysia and uplift the declining standards of our hockey. While negotiations were ongoing, some "smart" MHF official met with another South Korean coach, purported to be a former assistant to the South Korean coach with the Chinese team. This created sufficient publicity in the alternative media i e "blogosphere" in South Korea that there was a tussle for the Malaysian job. The South Korean in China professionally withdrew from any further discussions with the Malaysian hockey representatives. Even a "secret" meeting held in Bangkok thereafter could not the coax the renowned South Korean coach to reconsider the Malaysian job.

Sadly, Malaysia was at the verge of getting his services but there were people in MHF who helped in "derailing" his appointment by not understanding the salient aspects of confidentiality and discretion when it comes to employment of "key" personalities. If these people had done such acts in a corporate environment, they would have faced drastic consequences including termination. Fortunately for them, it was only MHF and it would seem people get significant leeway to do things.

If that was the only incident then this article would not be forthcoming. The search for a foreign coach continued even after TM became President. This time the matter was handled by the Vice President of the Medical Committee. Why? It is anybody's guess? My article: MHF Committees in "Slumberland" - Part 4: "Motionless" Medical Committee dated 4th December, would probably give an insight.

Apparently, he was in negotiations with an Australian coach, who came highly recommended and was about to seal the appointment when the Secretary of MHF stepped in to take over the paperwork. In his "style" of English he communicated through the e-mail with the Australian and somehow confused the terms of appointment. Indeed stories were told that the Secretary was so keen to go to Australia to sign the deal, which itself probably created the confusion. Yet again, in the simplest of language MHF officials "screwed up" the whole deal.

With a brave front MHF's story then was they could not find a suitable foreign coach. All the backroom fiasco in MHF seem to have been forgotten and now as the story of the foreign coach resurfaces, nearly all the same officials have become the "players". If history is a lesson of the past, the question is: "Will history repeat itself"?

Statistically, there is a high probability. We need not create a mathematical equation. In plain words it is the same "players" who have in the past "screwed up" such deals. Now their initial acts itself have put potential candidates on to the defensive. Even at an early stage candidates cannot trust the "employer" on confidentiality, how does one expect for the long run. The people concerned are not "unemployed" coaches rather professional serving coaches whose request for "professional confidentiality" is of vital importance. To give "half baked" news to the public by MHF is tantamount to misleading all parties. So the statements of the Deputy President, the Vice President and Secretary of MHF with regards to the foreign coach is only going to help MHF lose its own creditability in eyes of all foreign coaches. The little hope we may have had for their services may have already been "killed" by the officials concerned. Can MHF afford such repeated "screw ups". The TM as President needs to think carefully.

Monday, December 14, 2009

"Tips" for TM as President of MHF.

Below is a comment for another article and i wanted this comment to receive the right level of attention. The comment literally believes that the President of MHF is doing his job but wants to see effective changes as the President is ultimately responsible.

Indeed the comment believes he holds the "key" to the future of Malaysian hockey and wants to see him use his "veto" powers if he is not satisfied with his team of administrators.

Something for readers to think about and comment. Below is the full text of the comment:

"mahatma has left a new comment on your post "MHF Committees in "Slumberland" - Part 5: "Pointle...":

All said and done, I believe the MHF association has played a key role to the success of hockey in Malaysia.

Just get the right people doing the job and the Pointless Team management committee becomes "meaningful" even though it is not anywhere in the constitutionally set up.

The vital person for the growth and success of all the committee set ups is the PRESIDENT himself. Anyone can run the hockey association but the president takes the hit and answers to the malaysians and to the world about the success or failure of the sports in Malaysia. Not the medical committee, not the TMC, not the coaching committee but the president himself.

The president who has much expertise and respect in the world of sports must be saluted not because of his position but his sincere majestic desires to bring changes and success to the hockey world. Changes is vital for the organisation to grow. The sooner the better as we have less than 300days for asian cup and olympic qualifier and less than 1500 days for the JWC.

If Raja Azlan Shah have been able to do so in the 80's and 90's, I believe that our current president has all the charisma, talent, power, credibility, leadership and willpower to bring Hockey to the next level in Malaysia,

Being the president, he shall have his veto power to override certain decisions made by certain committee if deemed not right for the progress of hockey and this has to be abide by all in MHF.

Dear President, Don't be a toothless lion. the future of Hockey lies in your hand. As the right or whatever wrong decisions made by you will see the success or failure of hockey in Malaysia."

Saturday, December 12, 2009

KLHA's Under 14 two "coaches" issue.

This was a comment i received for another article and i thought that the comment deserve "centre stage", so i have reproduced it as a main article. Obviously, the comment seem to indicate that all is not well in Kuala Lumpur Hockey Association (KLHA). Something i find difficult to believe as it is one of the proper managed hockey association in the country.

The comment seem to distort this image and i hope KLHA would be able to enlighten us on this matter.

Full text of the comment is published below:

"Mahatma has left a new comment on your post "Yet again Malaysian hockey misses the "crowning wi...":


Someone trains the KL under14 boys for 2 years preparing them for the under14 tournament and someone else takes the credit in 2 weeks.

It was a sudden shock to this coach upon arriving from Myanmar under18 tournament that his hard work was given to another coach.

Anyway everything started wrong from the selection process to the way the game was played. One player was not even in the top 18 list and was eventually sent off to play for Malacca where he emerged as the top scorrer for the state.

KL lost the first game and drew the second game. I was in Ipoh attending to a meeting when someone call me to inform that KL under 14 hit badly to the extend that some players do not want to play the next game against Tganu.

News went to the "Original" coach who was shocked with the results. He knew this team was a winning team and many KL coaches was lobbying for it. Not believing the results, he decided to see the boys and the game for himself. And his presence at the field the next day chased away all the curse and gave a fighting spirit to the boys. The angel's blessing went on to give a 7-1 winning against Tganu. The others was all history.

This team won all the matches from than on to win the championship. Of course with one coach at the bench and the other sitting outside showing signs to the boys what to do.

I was in KL when I received a call that the KL boys had won the championship. I slept peacefully that night and many others in KL did the same too.

Powerful characters have powerful minds and Powerful minds build winners. Success does not come overnight but pure hardwork. "

Friday, December 11, 2009

MHF Committees in "Slumberland" - Part 5: "Pointless" Team Management Committee.

Team Management Committee (TMC) of MHF is not a constitutionally designated Committee. It was set up in the past probably one and the half or 2 decades ago to ensure that matters pertaining to the various national teams are under a jurisdiction of a Committee. This is how the TMC derived its name.

While that provided a sound reason but people involved in that era tell a "story" that it was done for political purposes. Apparently a very senior office bearer in MHF felt that he was "cut off" from the day to day matters relating to the national teams and that the other Committees or personalities may have greater access including directly to the President, therefore he pushed for the TMC. Because of his seniority it fell on his lap to Chair, fulling the original intended objective. This way he became the main person reporting to the President and accessibility to the President for others were totally minimised or eliminated.

From then on, everyone involved with the national teams had to "pay their respect" to this person. On a day to day basis he became the "kingpin" of Malaysian hockey, having the administrative and operative control. If the story is a fact, the person must have been a genius in "maneuvering and manipulating" matters without others realising or even if they did, they could not do anything about it. The story concludes with the bottom line that "everything in MHF got going if he felt it deserved the attention and provided it was good for hockey". Therefore in a nutshell, it was not "bad" overall because things got going.

This precedent of having the TMC continued by other administrations of MHF even when the so called "founder" of it left MHF. The TMC brought a fair share of "ups and downs". This time there were more "downs" and slowly the purpose of the existence of the TMC became a glaring question?

In the current administration the TMC is being chaired by the Deputy President and he had selected the TMC's members including a senior officer of NSC to represent them. At its first meeting the TMC decided to name the coaches and team manager's of the senior national team, the junior national team and the national age group team (now it is referred to as the Project 2013 team). All these selections were done without discussing with the Coaching Committee or other relevant parties. The matter seemed to have a sinister flavour when certain people within the TMC were some of the named officials.

The matter got out of hand when the Chairman of the TMC made the appointments public even without informing the President of MHF. The matter became the "talk of the hockey community", when certain people in the TMC and some of the appointed officials seemed to originate from Malacca. Thus the group controlling or having influence on the TMC is referred to as the "Malacca Mafia". This effectively gave rise to the issue on the continuance of the past administration habit of "cronyism", thereby overlooking the fundamentals of meritocracy.

The manner of appointments by the TMC set the "tails wagging" and the main victim of it was the Chairman of the Coaching Committee. His Committee as result of this became " war torn." Accusations were flying around how friends were rewarded with appointments, more so overlooking the fundamental of ethics and conflict of interest. The "hodge podge" approach by the TMC gave a feeling that the whole thing was done in a hurry before the formal matters are considered. Maybe they were fearful that with time they may not be able to achieve their desired objective.

On the meantime, they got away with their first act. Then informally the Chairman of the TMC and the NSC Officer started exercising their powers. They summoned the coaches of the senior team and wanted them to go through their team manager on any statements or communications with any parties. This unusual approach seem to be a "vetting" process and wanting to strength the position of the team manager. Part of the reason was the coaches used to provide independent reports to the President of MHF and NSC. This the "Malacca Mafia" felt uncomfortable and if the reports were vetted then they would have an advance warning, which would give them time to react accordingly. Indeed the Chairman of the TMC was making life difficult for the senior team coaches.

With the passage of time, as more issues developed particularly of disciplinary nature with the national team, the TMC decided "to put its tail between its legs" and walk away from the problems. The TMC did not even "wink an eye" on the matter. Suddenly the TMC "lost its tooth" and became speechless. The purpose of their existence seem to have suddenly disappeared. Some believe that the Chairman of the TMC was slowly being caught out and he does want to display his true colour.

Lately, the Deputy President must have decided that his silence must be "broken". He found a topic that he felt was probably under his jurisdiction as Chairman of TMC and that is the foreign coach for Malaysia. Not realising the rules of confidentiality and breaching the understandings agreed upon, the Deputy President freely made information publicly available. This in a way gave the impression that the TMC is still in-charge of such matters. Some of course believe his actions may be calculated to sabotage the appointment of the foreign coach. The debate on this matter would continue for years to come.

All these raise the fundamental issue of whether there is the need for a TMC? Even if it does , should it not have a scope clearly defined as to what the TMC's functions are and the procedures they must adopt including seeking the endorsement of the Management Committee on certin matters. The TMC should not be seen as an independent unit wanting to do what they like based on their "whims and fancies". Ultimately the President of MHF is responsible and they must know that they cannot usurp his authority.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

MHF Committees in "Slumberland" - Part 4: "Actionless" Vice-Presidents.

MHF has 6 Vice-Presidents (VPs) of which 4 are elected and 2 others are filled by virtue of nomination representing the states of Sabah and Sarawak respectively. The idea probably was to ensure all States are fully represented and also to make sure that the States of Sabah and Sarawak feel they have roles in Malaysian hockey. Maybe when the MHF constitution was drafted then the hockey administrators probably had the foresight of embodying the principles of "1Malaysia" which is the current national slogan.

The 4 elected VPs have their roles defined by being appointed as Chairpersons of the following Committees:
  • Medical

  • Finance

  • Competition

  • Special Projects

The Finance and the Competition Committees seem to be sufficiently active in MHF, whereas the Medical Committee's activities if any ( refer to my article, MHF Committees in "Slumberland"-Part3: "Motionless" Medical Committee dated 4th December 2009) is a "question-mark". Insofar as the Special Projects Committee (SPC), there seems nothing "special" is going on for the services of this VP.

In fact the Chairman of the SPC, i believe is from the legal profession and has a good reputation for undertaking his task properly. It is a pity that this VP's talent is not fully utilised. Although he has been given ad-hoc roles purely as "stop gap" measures in the form of team manager or assistant team manager, still MHF has not fully capitalised on his talent.

Indeed players who were in New Zealand for the World Cup qualifier found him highly responsive to their needs as the assistant team manager. They found him approachable, understanding and easy to communicate with. More importantly he did not have an "agenda" in dealing with them.

It is sad that this VP although being new to MHF seems not to be used to the fullest extent particularly as he is a capable person. Why he being used on a "piecemeal" basis by MHF is "mind blogging."

On the other side the 2 VPs coming from Sabah and Sarawak seem not to exercise their "position" despite their legitimate rights that is enshrined in the constitution of MHF. Both have not made their physical presences in MHF Management and Council Meetings. This probably may explain why they have not been given any portfolios. I do not know whether it is fortunate or unfortunate that they are placed in this predicament especially as MHF VPs and seem not to be doing anything worthwhile.

What is shocking is that one of these States could not even raise a team to participate in the Razak Cup. Another interesting story was about the MHF VP from one of these States, who was appointed as a team manger for a national team on an overseas tour during the time of the previous administration. His busy schedule could not permit him to undertake the job but he recommended one of his family members to the position. Maybe in that State, they may work differently in the administration of hockey.

I may have stated that these VPs may not be contributing anything worthwhile and this may not be perfectly right. One of the VP is in fact in the Development Committee, at least in name. Please read my article, MHF Committees in "Slumberland"- Part 2: "Clueless" Development Committee. dated 1st December 2009, to judge for yourself the prevailing scenario.

What i find difficult to comprehend is how people hold positions and seem not to be worried about not functioning properly. Maybe it is the glamour or "rubbing" shoulders with VIPs or something else that drives them to take up the positions. I do not know whether they understand that they are holding the post in "trust" because they have been elected or nominated to do the job. Therefore in that position they act as "trustees" for Malaysian hockey and they have an implied "fiduciary" duty to perform with reasonable skill and care. Maybe this sort of dimension of thinking has yet to "hit" them to appreciate that holding elected positions even in Sports Associations has a far greater responsibility that they cannot simply ignore.

The issue i have raised about the 2 VPs has been a perennial issue in MHF. The matter has seldom been raised and everyone adopts an accommodating view. It would seem the idea of having the numbers and giving the perception that Sabah and Sarawak is represented, is more important than having functioning VPs. In a way MHF is being "imprisoned" by its own constitution and people have the "fear factor" not to raise the matter.

It therefore becomes essential that these VPs have to decide whether the MHF constitution should provide for Sabah and Sarawak the VP posts. They are the only people who can recommend and from what is happening they should do what is appropriate. Good people from Sabah and Sarawak can still be elected rather than being given the nominated posts. What is important is that posts in MHF must be for people who can perform rather than ending up as "passengers" and expecting the others to carry them. Somehow this is what is happening in MHF.

Friday, December 4, 2009

MHF Committees in "Slumberland" - Part 3: "Motionless" Medical Committee.

After the MHF AGM last Saturday, it would seem 2 people were extremely busy and making a "beeline" for the press. They seemed excited and wanted to display their importance in MHF. They were carrying with them some "hot" news, which according to other office bearers was confidential in nature. Forgetting that aspect of it, the Deputy President and a long serving Vice President of MHF decided to "spill the beans" so to state. Many "MHF watchers" cannot understand why this was done particularly as the President of MHF was there and the TM would be the right spokesman on such a matter i e the foreign coach issue.

Some were finding justification why these 2 key personalities of MHF should act like this. If the TM was absent, a case could be made particularly for the Deputy President. This could be done under the constitution that he was deputising the President, which in this case was not so. As for the Vice President, it is not his area of responsibility and therefore why did he become "sibuk". Sadly both these key officials have let MHF down badly for it implicates the others as though they do not want to talk or are not transparent. It would seem the simple rules of confidentiality were flouted by them . These are no ordinary people but rather very senior officials of the MHF Management Committee.

The Vice President's principal area of responsibility is the Medical Committee. So the question to ask is: "Why is this Vice President so "sibuk" on the matter of foreign coach?" He must consider himself "lucky" to be in possession of such information and he should learn to honour the nature of such information, particular if he is told of its status.

He is probably "sibuk" because he has nothing much to do or his Medical Committee is so "super efficient" that he can find the time to indulge into other areas of responsibility. In checking around, it must be said that many do not know what is happening with the Medical Committee or even if it does exist. They think that if they are doing anything it is probably undertaking or assisting in dope testing and working out ways to ensure that there is physical "medical coverage" in MHF tournaments. Even this they are doubtful as this aspect is usually undertaken by National Sports Institute (NSI) and the MHF office just liaises on the matter.

Indeed, based on my knowledge i do not believe that any random dope testing has ever been carried out by MHF. The only time this tends to take place is when the tournament is organised by FIH or on behalf of FIH. I believe even for the Asian Hockey Federation (AHF) tournaments such random tests are not done. The Chairman of the MHF Medical Committee is a key personality in AHF Medical Committee.

One would be surprised to know that the MHF Medical Committee may not have members. It represents a sad state of affairs. If this argument is "stretched", it effectively would mean that this Vice President is not doing anything worthwhile in MHF. Does this explain why he can afford to have a "sibuk" attitude and thereby create an image that he is a key figure in the activities of MHF? Mind you, in a way he seems to have achieved this for the first impression of him dictates such a view.

Seriously, the Medical Committee if it exists and is properly functional could do "a world of wonders" for Malaysian hockey beyond its traditional role relating to dope testing and medical cover at tournaments. What they have to do is "quantum leap" in their thinking and the areas they can assists are:

  1. Enter into collaboration with Universities and study the eating patterns and lifestyle of the players including sleep, drinking, smoking and so forth with the intention of making the necessary recommendations, as to what should be done to sustain endurance and speedy recovery.

  2. Viewing advancement in Sports Science and Bio Medicine with the idea of having relevant courses or seminars for players, officials, and coaches, thereby creating a greater awareness of the key elements and working on them.

  3. With the assistance of NSI, undertaking Bio Mechanical analysis of players with the intention of overcoming their weaknesses and polishing their strengths.

  4. Working out "mental stress" training programmes with the coaches to enhance the capabilities of players to handle various pressure scenarios in a game.

These are some of the areas but as usual there could be many more. At this point, it is more important that the Medical Committee identify the priorities and implement them rather than considering any form of exhaustive list. The little start the Medical Committee can do would in fact be a "quantum leap". No Medical Committee in MHF from the past have taken responsibilities outside the traditional role. We are still dogmatically indulging in traditional ways when we are playing modern hockey. This probably explains why we do not have that "extra" to have sustained Malaysia as a force in world hockey.

The Medical Committee has to move with time and if they find that it is difficult to do so then they must make way for people with innovative ideas who are willing to serve. People cannot take up positions just to warm the "chairs" and give the impression that they are doing work. Sometimes it could be that the people may be out of depth in the respective fields that they continue with the past so as to be within the "comfort" zone. These are selfish views that do not help Malaysian hockey. In a way this may explain Malaysian hockey's current predicament.

Whatever it maybe there is no point beating the "war drum" or "massacring" people, rather it is important that firstly the Medical Committee exists and then start mentally positioning themselves to positively engage in making the "quantum leap" decision of taking on a significant role in the progression of Malaysian hockey. If that "mental block" can be overcome, then the "sky" is the limit. This is where the "sibuk" nature can be best utilised to serve hockey appropriately.

The Medical Committee in coming into existence must understand that they have a far greater role if Malaysia wants to win the coveted titles in hockey. The question is whether as "volunteers" the people in the Medical Committee want to invest the time. The solution would probably be to lay out the policies and procedures and get the MHF administration to ensure its operations. This is the key in ensuring the Medical Committee plays its vital role in moving Malaysian hockey to the right direction in this modern era. The question is whether the Medical Committee would be formed and would have the tenacity to pursue it or be a figment of imagination?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

One year on, Malaysia remembers its "sporting" son, the late Datuk Ho Koh Chye.

On 3rd December 2008, the country was "robbed" of a great sports personality, Datuk Ho Koh Chye. A popular figure, who even in his last hours at home recovering from an operation, was still engaged in discussion on the future of Malaysian sports, particularly hockey. A few months earlier he had completed the national call-up as Chef De Mission for the Malaysian contingent to the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Having been embroiled with the Olympics for months including the completion of the various reports and recommendations to OCM, Datuk Ho found the time to have a family holiday prior to his operation. While sports was in Datuk Ho's blood, family was of paramount importance and the holiday may seem to be a divine intervention of getting them together before his final farewell. Now looking back the family would treasure every moment of that holiday.

For Datuk Ho's friends a year has passed by and rarely has his name not been mentioned. Whether it is hockey or OCM or NSC or Ministry of Sports or other sports, usually they would finish a comment by stating, "What would Koh Chye have thought about it?" This is the lasting impression he has left with people. Physically not around yet his spirit and what he stood for continues to remind us of Koh Chye's presence.

His style of handling issues, without having to "upset the cart" is something uncommon in normal people. This extraordinary nature permits Koh Chye to go with the believe that nothing is impossible. He believes people must be given the opportunity to try things out and if they succeed, it is well and good. If they fail, he still believes that they have learnt something which would equip them better for the future. This probably was one of the tenets he utilised to go through life and probably gave him the calmness to handle the challenges he had to face. Indeed the word "NO" was not a common vocabulary with him, as he believed that there were many ways to approach an issue. It was all about finding the right path.

A former Malaysian hockey international K Enbaraj, related an incident in Auckland, New Zealand in the early 1990s, where Koh Chye was the team manager of the Malaysian hockey team for the Olympic qualifiers. This player was not getting his "deadly" hits on target at the warm-up matches and training, which concerned the team management. Enbaraj felt that his attire was too tight-fitting and he was extremely uncomfortable with it and it upset his playing rhythm. The coach did not pay much attention to that matter. However Koh Chye only wanted to know whether if he had the right attire, he would be able to return to his normal play. Trusting the player, Koh Chye took him shopping to sort out the attire. From then on the player was on "fire" and Malaysia qualified for the Olympics.

The point being what may be trivial to others, Koh Chye was prepared to look into and help in the transformation. It may be a small matter yet it was a big issue for Enbaraj and ultimately the team. Koh Chye did not "pooh pooh" the matter, rather he got down to solving it. This is Koh Chye, he had the time for people.

This is where his friends still remember him and are finding ways of honouring him. A former player under him, now a corporate personality Ow Soon Kooi, whose company is involved in the OCM hotel, has got one of the meeting rooms named after Datuk Ho Koh Chye. Apparently he is collecting the various memorabilia of Koh Chye, to be displayed in the meeting room. Koh Chye has the capacity to make an impact on the people who meet him. That itself creates a life-long friendship and one such person is Ow Soon Kooi.

The friend who probably misses him the most would be Datuk R Yogeswaran. Even till today when Koh Chye's name is mentioned, there are tears in Yoges eyes. Koh Chye and Yoges were like brothers and their respective families also understood that relationship. They met in the hockey field as young boys, blossomed their relationship at MTC Penang, deepened their understanding of one another as players of the national hockey team from 1962 to 1968 and thereafter it was a "brotherly" bond that took them through the administration of Malaysian hockey including working together in NSC. For Yoges without Koh Chye is like "his arms missing". That is how close they had been.

While his friends remember him, it is my hope that MHF, OCM, NSC and KBS would do something posthumous to honour Koh Chye. He gave a lot to the country and he did not ask for anything in return. He was always grateful that Malaysia gave him the opportunities and he shouldered these beyond the call of normal duties. Maybe a Sports Scholarship named after him or a posthumous national award or the combination of both would be very appropriate. In years to come future generations of Malaysians would know there was such a high-calibred person like Datuk Ho Koh Chye. What a way for history to record Koh Chye's achievement.

Finally, it is only fitting we also extend our warmest regards to Datin Karen, Koh Chye's spouse and to the family. You all meant a lot to him. Although he gave a major part of his life for the country, it was because he had an understanding wife and family. This probably gave him the peace of mind to venture out and serve Malaysia. We have to thank Datin Karen and the family for giving Datuk Ho Koh Chye the space to have us as his friends.

May God Bless all of you and the soul of Koh Chye.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

MHF Committees in "Slumberland" - Part 2: "Clueless" Development Committee.

The state of Malaysian hockey is what it is today because of the failure to undertake good development programmes by the previous hockey regimes. In the past there was more talk and getting to the ground was a huge hurdle for MHF to surmount. In the last administration one of the current Vice Presidents was for a short while the Chairman of the Development Committee but was tactfully removed as his thinking was not in consonant with the parties that made the difference in MHF then. Therefore if there was any "development", it was the "politicking" and this permeated to all levels in MHF thereby destroying the possibility of concrete development projects materialising. This therefore interrupted the flow of talents in the supply chain.

Malaysian hockey had been quite lucky because NSC came as a saviour with their programmes like "Sukan Teras", "Tunas Cemerlang" and the Sport Schools. If we look at the young generation of players especially in the Project 2013, you can see why i state NSC had been and will continue to be the saviour of Malaysian hockey. Whether it was intended or otherwise, the facts of the matter speaks for itself.

Now lets come to the fundamental issue of what do we mean by the term "Development"? Is it to popularise the game at grassroot such that we have sufficient numbers that permit a good reservoir of players, where quality talents can be extracted to become the first part of the series in the "supply chain" to furnish the States and the high performance national teams.?

If that is so, therefore it is not creating the national team that is the immediate priority but rather the pool of players from the grassroots. However, "grass" can only grow if there are "roots", at least that was what i remembered from my Science lessons. The question then is: Where is the "roots"? Of course they must be planted. It then begs the next question: By whom? This i presume becomes the Vision, strategy and action plan of the Development Committee.

If the preceding paragraph has its basis, then can the current Development Committee after 1 year of mulling over the development issues, be prepared to state that they have got the "modus operandi" under going for "root" planting for grassroot hockey? I ask this question because we can debate "till the cows come home", but the fact remains that the "roots" have not been planted on the ground and the only "planting" if any that has been done, is at the Development Committee itself.

Obviously there is an argument that the Development Committee had submitted 3 plans. The first in early 2009 but it seem to be riding on TNB's Project 2013 programme, which TNB had presented to the previous administration. The 2nd plan was submitted in mid 2009 but seem to be involved with high performance teams rather than planting the "roots". Again the 2nd plan like the 1st had an inherent flaw because the Development programmes were not discussed with the Affiliates, which would have infringed the MHF constitution.

With the coming of the MHF General Manager, apparently the matter became an "eye opener" to the Chairman of the Development Committee. The Development Committee then indulged into discussion with the Affiliates and this was 10 months after the new administration came into office. Even at that stage they came up with a "grandeur" idea i e the 3rd plan, costing a few million ringgits, which from the onset seem to be a non starter.

What surprises me is that the Development Committee is made up of a "high powered" team and i wonder how they miss the obvious matter of "planting the roots". The other problem may also be that the Committee may not have had the guidance by MHF as to know what exactly to tackle. It probably explains why they have the notion of intervention involving the high performance teams.

Some may argue that all these seem to provide the right excuses. Yet, the point being why did the Development Committee not seek guidance at an early stage itself rather than 2nd guessing what is expected of them. Indeed now "planting the roots" may not arise if the Ministry of Education (MOE) Hockey Development programmes gets into full swing. The schools become the "nurseries" i e the "planting fields". This effectively would save the Development Committee the resources of getting down to the ground as the teachers become the "agents of change".

Such being the case the Development Committee may have to re-engineer its direction and position itself to "aid and abet" the MOE development programmes. The areas they could look at is:

  1. Assisting in the creation of more teachers as coaches for development.

  2. Creating a system of quality control with MOE to ensure the system adopted nationwide is of the highest quality,consistent in nature and fits into a national game plan.

  3. Creating a "half way" Academy in each State to spot talents in the MOE programme and further enhance the skills of the selected students through periodic gatherings.

  4. This "half way" Academy can be part of the supply chain of players to the States and high performance teams.

  5. These "half way" Academies should be encouraged to have inter state tournaments to create a competitive nature.

These are some ideas floated, while the high powered team of the Development Committee may have better plans. The point being the Committee cannot sit around and wait for things to "drop from the sky". The MOE initiative is already underway and the MHF Development Committee should work with the MOE to take the programme to another stage rather than "hatching" another plan which may take another year in the making, if past experience is anything to go by.

In this way the Development Committee would be assisting to lay the foundation of a nationwide programme for schools with the MOE and working with the Affiliates. This tripartite relationship if undertaken properly would become a benchmark and a legacy to sports. More importantly, it could be the "infrastructure" to ensure an uninterrupted supply chain for future quality talents in Malaysian hockey. I am sure that would be the dream of this high powered Development Committee and why not?

Monday, November 30, 2009

MHF Coaching Chairman seem to be on a "showmanship" trip.

Following my article: MHF Committees in "Slumberland" - Part 1: "Directionless" Coaching Committee, i question the wisdom of releasing the national coaches to be employed by the MHL clubs, when they are paid full time salaries to serve the national teams. I also questioned why when every one of the national coaches were allowed except for the chief national coach.

Today's dailies reported the Chairman of Coaching Committee's disappointment of the MHF Council rejection of his clearance to the national coaches. Firstly there is no change of mind by the MHF Council because it would be the first time they would have come to know about it. In that sense the Council as the governing body has the right to decide.

More importantly the action of the Chairman of the Coaching Committee must be questioned. He has acted "ultra vires" of the constitution of MHF. He unilaterally made the decision without consulting his own Committee. This is not the first time he has done such an act. Over the period he has been Chairman, he has created enough blunders on a unilateral basis , which has turned his Committee meetings into "war" scenario.

Now in the heights of "showmanship", the Chairman in his action of calling for a meeting to discuss the issue of the national coaches, maybe taking on the MHF Council. Maybe he is trying to display who is the "boss" and calls the "shots". Probably this maybe an error of judgement on his part that may bring the whole MHL to disrepute. The point being such a meeting should have been held prior to his unilateral decision. At least he would have had the constitution on his side and more so the Affiliates representatives too. After "spilling the milk" he is trying to salvage his own pride.

If the Chairman of the Coaching Committee "tickles" his grey matter carefully, he would realise some of the facts he made known to the medis may not paint the right scene. He has to recognise the following:

  1. The number of national coaches who are on MHF payroll and suppose to be involved in MHL are only 3. They are the senior team assistant coach, The national Under 18 coach and his assistant.

  2. The above 2 assistant coaches are employees of TNB and they are adequately looked after by their employer. On a piecemeal, the issue of being paid a paltry RM$750 per month as national assistant coach and staying in KL may be dramatising the issue. Please check with the person concerned of his combined remuneration package for the truth.

  3. As for TNB, i am sure they have adequate coaches because of their corporate social responsibilities to hockey. The services of these 2 personalities may not be deemed necessary.

  4. The only person that remain an issue would probably be the national Under 18 coach. On the first place in taking the appointment he should have realise that he is moving to a different bracket and he should have made sure that he negotiated a reasonable remuneration package to make up for what he would not be earning.

  5. Finally the argument of precedent does not mean it is always right when time passes on. At that time there may have been grounds and whether the same grounds apply now may be questionable. Indeed if any, the Chairman should "weight" each circumstances on its own merits and not allow history alone to dictate the decisions.

Just because "one or two people decided to have dreams, it does not mean that they can impose nightmares" to MHF and Malaysian hockey. The strange thing is the Chairman of the Coaching Committee is "blind" to these facts and seem to be guided by "whims and fancies" of the situations.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Anonymous comment on matters relating to Sports School

I received the comment below for my article titled': "Sports School seem confused with their hockey boys", dated 21st of November.

Although i have published the comment under that article, i felt it is also proper to let the other side of the story be given its publicity.

The comment has raised some interesting matters and it would be worthwhile to see the reaction of the readers.

Below is the full text of the comment.

"Mr Ghandi,

We have to be fair with the KPM or Sports School!

When a talent is spotted at MSSM Inter-state tournament there is a big cry by certain MHF officials that Sports Schools is "KILLING" the state development.

Then why are there 90% of the current National Juniors that took part in Myanmar consist of players from SSBJ & SSBP.

A good question that needed to be answered by State HAs and MHF. Lembu punya Susu Sapi punya nama. This sounds familiar?

Please also let me clear the air that all players from sports school are released back to the home state for all tournaments. Be it MSSM or MHF tournaments i.e U14, 16, 18 and even Sukma.

Mr Ghandi, why should you not be concern if you are a parent of a player from sports school?
Where do u think the existing national players pick up the drinking habits?

Well with beers free flow out of the chillers after a MHL game (and training) it is matter of time a student from SPORTS SCHOOL be on this habit. Well before you know it he will be reaching the school gate after 12pm drunk. Well the famous 3 recently. 2 current players, 1 is the living proof of this where he received early training to this routine habit.

So Ghandi, please check these fact before we pick on the wrong parties that is killing the game.

I sincerely hope that you are also not a supporter of paying big money to these students. It appears that this is the practice with the clubs. Grab what you can by luring money and buying loyalty.

Mr Ghandi, this is also the training ground towards 10/2 habits and illegal internet betting!

On a sad note why the MHF does not support the idea of Sports school putting a side instead?

Maybe that would be better since the question of accountability and responsibility for these students will be taken care for before they leave school.

Cheers Sir, we hope you are in a better position to promote better image of the Sports Schools and stop the negative articles on the good work done by KPM or the Sports"

Saturday, November 28, 2009

MHF Committees in "Slumberland" - Part 1: "Directionless" Coaching Committee

MHF shall be having their AGM today and dutifully all the Committees shall be presenting their annual report. Many may get a way with it as the Affiliates may not know what to ask the Committees to account for their 1 year activities. An area that may get great focus would probably be the Coaching Committee, the Development Committee and the Medical Committee. For this article i shall confine myself to the Coaching Committee.

Coaching because it has been riddled with enough controversies from the previous MHF administration. The "hue and cry" continues into the current administration as part of an exercise referred to as "pay back" time. Many who were involved in the running of Coaching Committee previously are now in the position of being members and are giving back what they got previously. Indeed the coaches close to the previous administration have been left in the "lurch" and this has annoyed them even more. Effectively there are cliques in the Coaching Committee that make good decisions difficult to come by.

Indeed the Coaching Committee Chairman has acted strangely including not following the MHF constitution in the appointment of the initial Coaching Committee Secretary. He was not spared the devastating verbal attacks from a particular group within the Committee. Indeed he tended his resignation and subsequently withdrew it. The Chairman has been literally bullied by certain key officials in MHF particularly by the Team Management Committee when they named all the coaches for the various national high performance teams without discussing it with the Coaching Chairman.

The Coaching Committee is scarred badly that its creditability is severely dented. They have even failed to issue certificates for coaching courses completed some 8 months ago. This is the state of affairs and peculiarly if you do ask for the certificates from the Coaching Committee, they tend to point the fingers to the Secretary of MHF. If you ask the Secretary of MHF, he points it back to the Coaching Committee. End of the day these 2 people have a good laugh but the poor coaches are still without the certificates. Even a simple act like that is so time consuming.

Therefore you can see that they do not have a clue of what to do. They are doing nothing seriously, not even trying to get our coaches to FIH courses. A year has gone by and the Coaching Committee is still in its bickering mode. It would seem difficult to get anything done.

Latest of the fiasco is for the Coaching Committee to release the national coaches and their assistants to become coaches or consultants for the MHL teams. The only exception seem to be the Chief National Coach. These are full time coaches with MHF and if they are not training any of the national teams, then they must be busy spotting talents or helping in development or running courses for novice coaches. The problem here is the coaches want more money and such the Coaching Committee allows them to indulge. Question is what ever happens to their full time job for which they are being paid?

In all fairness, MHF must stop this silly clearance that the Coaching Committee has given or not at least deduct their full time salaries if they want to participate in the MHL by granting them "no paid leave".. What i cannot understand is if everyone else can take part why then create an exception for the Chief Coach. Might as well everyone enjoy earning more money at the expense of their full time job. After all it is taxpayers money!!!!!

More importantly why should the National Coaches have a monopoly. They are already promoted therefore give the other budding coaches a chance to be exposed. Where else can they get a chance to work in an environment that MHL creates. If any, the national coaches are not only greedy but are equally selfish. All this happens because of the lack of foresight in the Coaching Committee and its Chairman. Strangely these are the guys who are going to create the coaches to train our generation of hockey players. I seriously think MHF need to look at this carefully if they want there to be "hope" for the future of Malaysian hockey.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Yet again Malaysian hockey misses the "crowning win". Why?

Consecutive Sundays, Malaysian hockey had 2 teams in the finals, one the Seniors at World Cup qualifier in New Zealand and the other at Asia Cup Under 18 in Myanmar. In both instances we ended up playing "2nd fiddles". It seem that the "winning crown" is eluding Malaysia.

Some put it to the fact that our players are unable to cope with the "big game" temperament. The pressure of wanting to qualify for the bigger event adds a higher level of stress which either allows them to start with a "bang" and then fizzle out with time or start poorly with a number of goals down thereby staging a "fightback" against the clock. Both these scenarios seem to fit with our teams in New Zealand and Myanmar respectively.

This "yo yo" temperament of the team seem to reflect the lack of consistency throughout the game and thereby hurting themselves from becoming champions. This is because we do not educate our players to familiarise how to cope with different pressure scenarios and the varying levels of stress. Both the finals in which our boys were involved is a classic reflection of the lack of such familiarisation. Part of the reason is that our national league is not highly competitive as it is dominated in the main by 1 team which has most of the national players. Therefore the training ground does not exist.

One does not have to be a "rocket scientist" to analyse these issues. If we are aware we must take the necessary steps to prepare the boys accordingly, it is imperative that the coaches understand this and select and substitute the players accordingly. This is where Sports Science and Bio Medicine data of the players are fundamental. This has to be incorporated into an IT system where the coaches can utilise it on a real time basis during the game. Modern progressive qualified coaches use such tools to cope with the growing demand of ensuring their team has that added advantage over their opponents.

To be fair to our senior national coaches like Beng Hai and Nor Saiful, against all odds and the predictions of certain naysayers they have done well. More so if we look at the adversities they had to face during the time they were handling the team. It is incredible they still could get the best out of the team. I am not saying that they are brilliant coaches, rather hard working and highly focused of wanting to achieve their objective. Their principle minded nature where they call "a spade, a spade" provides an uncompromising position particularly on discipline and training methodology. This had upset a few senior players plus certain key officials who were trying to undermine the coaches. However the leadership at MHF and NSC had kept faith with both these coaches and in a way the New Zealand final is a testament to these coaches determined quest of working and geting the best from the available talents.

At this point it must be noted that our reservoir of talents as part of the supply chain is slowly but surely "drying up". Almost 1 year has gone by and the Development Committee is still at the drawing board working out their development programme. This is what that puts the pressure on the future when the wise men find it difficult to put together reasonable effective plan to develop talents. The "high flying" stature and the huge financial commitment they are looking at, in the absence of a sound integrated platform seem to reflect the lack of understanding of the terrain of grass root hockey in Malaysia. While the Development Committee continues on its "mental gymnastics" , they must be aware that the ground does not get fertilised with development while they "think". This delay would bring its price too.

Reverting back to our Under 18 team, the coach Dharma supported by Nor Azlan and Gopi are doing a good job. They are moulding the boys well, cajoling at the right time and using the "rod" where it is required. Dharma's boys are shaping up well and they have taken the game to the top teams in Asia. That itself is a good start but we must recognise that Asian hockey is on a downward spiral and therefore we must always look at the Europeans and Oceania nations as a basis of comparison. Can we match with the teams from these regions? That would be the real test.

The Under 18 coach seem to ooze a high level of confidence particularly viewing his pre match comments. At a point it would seem he had portrayed a degree of arrogant over-confidence and Dharma has to be cautious of this. It would seem the defeat at the final had brought him down to earth as he accepted responsibility for the tactical error. Maybe with time and more international exposure the coach too would be able to fine tune his approach.

Dharma's greatest task is how he is going to hold the team together for the future. As it is they are being coaxed with monies and other attractive offers to turn out for various teams in the MHL. They are going to be exposed to all sort of things from good, bad and ugly, which is going to tempt them accordingly. Many had paid the price and in a way had affected the "bolts and nuts" of the teams in the past. Something Dharma and his fellow coaches have to look at if they want their "stars" to perform consistently in the future.

If we are not careful the consecutive Sunday finals where Malaysia appeared has given some hope to Malaysian hockey and may only be a one of matter. We can be in many finals and get all the "crown" but it requires people passionate of hockey with modern, progressive, intellectual outlook, who can bring with them scientific and corporate culture to be incorporated into the operations of Malaysian hockey. That is the only "WAY FORWARD".

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Sports School seem "confused" with their hockey boys.

I thought the idea of having Sports Schools was to develop the talent of players in various sports. If that is so, then these athletes must be given the exposure to participate as much as they can in various sporting events. At least that should be the case as opportunities may not be always there unless they are continuously created.

With the coming of the Malaysian Hockey League (MHL), various teams have been on the hunt for players. These teams are prepared to pay the "going" rate as "salaries" for the players and are even prepared to provide scholarships plus employment. Indeed if any it seem to set an attractive basis for the young talents, which must be encouraged.

Unfortunately majority of the young talents seem to originate from the Sports School and there seem to be a confusion of whether such players can be "tapped" for the MHL by the teams. Initially, they were told that Sports School policies cannot allow them, notwithstanding that most of them would have finished their SPM. Strange that a player is still part of the school when he has completed his SPM. When the Sport School found that argument could not sell, they changed their strategy that the school is having a tour to Sabah during the school holidays. Yet again why take the SPM boys who technically will not be with the school. It would be better to take the next generation of players.

The Sport School seem to have created a bureaucratic position of making it difficult for the young talents to be secured to play for the various teams in the MHL. While the confusion seem to be raging on the SPM students something similar seem also to be happening with the matriculation students too.

One wonder whether it is policies or just certain hurdles created so as particular group or groups could benefit from these talents. I raised this as one of the staff of the Sports School has been appointed as a coach of a MHL team and with a "magical wand" some of the previous issues seem to have evaporated into thin air. Is this a mere coincident or is there a change of heart or a planned strategy to gain an advantage? This is where the Sports School and its staff have too be careful for their actions can be construed in many ways when potential conflicts exist.

Whatever it maybe the point is that the young talents who have become "hot properties" are being being used as "tools" by certain party or parties to achieve their own objectives. This must be stopped as they create further confusion as Malaysian hockey tries to keep its head above water.

What must be clear is that these boys must be given all the opportunity to be exposed and reap the benefits that come with it. Rather than creating hurdles and making life difficult for clubs to tap their services, the Sport School must be helpful. They must create a defined pathway for clubs to come and assists their students i e provide a service that is only going to help sports and ultimately the country.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Golden goal takes Dharma's boys to Under 18 Asia Cup final

In consecutive Sundays Malaysian hockey has worked its way into 2 finals. Last Sunday it was the Senior team at the World Cup qualifier final in New Zealand and coming Sunday it shall be Dharma's Under 18 boys playing Pakistan for the Asia Cup final in Myanmar. Surely the TM must be in jublilant mood as it has been sometime since we had such news.

I do not have the full story of the semi-final game between South Korea and Malaysia except that Dharma's boys won the match on golden goal in extra time with a score at 3-2. Visit to get a brief insight of the match. It provides comments from Dharma of his team performance.

Well done Malaysian Under 18 boys and our best wishes for the final. I am sure Dharma would be burning the late night candle to strategise the tactics and the set pieces for the game. Dharma you have our support, for your boys and you can do it. Good Luck.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Project 2013 team doing their bit to salvage Malaysian hockey at Yangon Under 18 Asia Cup. .

The Senior hockey team did its bit to claw back some pride and dignity for Malaysian hockey when they entered the final of the World Cup qualifier in New Zealand. Although playing at the World Cup still remains a dream for many, as Malaysia was defeated by New Zealand 2-1, yet the boys did something unexpected. It is significant for it shows there is hope for Malaysian hockey and it is how we are going to capitalise on it.

More so, as Dharma's boys, the Project 2013 squad in Yangon seem to be keeping our "Jalur Gemilang" flying. In the Under 18 Asia Cup, Malaysia had defeated Sri Lanka 9-0 and yesterday beat India 3-2. Effectively we are into the semi-finals with one game left in the group i e against Pakistan.

Not much has been reported about this tournament and therefore it looks like Dharma's boys are not getting the publicity they deserve. These are young boys and they must know that the Malaysian hockey fraternity is with them. This would go a long way as they are the future of Malaysian hockey. If Dharma's boys do a good job at the Asia Cup then we know that the next generation of national players are being groomed in the right manner.

In a way this is where MHF seem to lack the public relation exercise. Their website seem inaccessible while their leadership seem to be silent with the results of the Under 18. MHF must learn to "blow its trumpet" when it matters and accordingly entering into the final of the World Cup qualifier and the good results emerging from the Under 18 Asia Cup are good instances.

Much too often we are critical of MHF and the performance of the teams. Yet of late that disturbing trend seem to have been diverted with certain pieces of good news. All is not lost in Malaysian hockey, yet we still cannot afford to sit on our laurels. More work has to be done and it is important that MHF should get down to it expeditiously.

Meantime may we extend our best wishes and good luck to Dharma's boys in Yangon and hope that they strive as hard as they are doing to ensure the "Jalur Gemilang" is hoisted as the winning flag.

Monday, November 16, 2009

New Zealand's "deadly 3 mins" kills Malaysia's opportunity to compete at the 2010 Hockey World Cup.

My article on Saturday: Malaysian hockey team - Considered "no hopers" make it to World Cup qualifier's final, i stated that in the hour of need the players have to be aware that the nation is standing with them and therefore they must give more than their best for the final. On Sunday, Malaysia took on New Zealand to decide who shall make to the 2010 World Cup in New Delhi.

Those who were watching the direct telecast of the match must have been surprised that Malaysia took an early lead and were able to sustain that lead to half time. Although surprise the sense of joy and jubilant could not be hidden notwithstanding the fact that this team was categorised as "no hopers". As the match progressed the tag of "no hopers" was obliterated from most of our minds. The Malaysian team seem to be serious and were actually trying their best. They may not be very skillful nor highly tactical but they had the "mati mati" spirit of wanting to succeed.

Although most played in the Test matches with Australia but the way the team played in the final seem to reflect that they had a new "zest" of life. It cannot be the cold weather or the Kiwi food, rather i believe it must be the sheer determination of the players wanting to win. The coaches and the team management must be congratulated in transforming the team in such a short spell.

As the game progressed we seem to be missing our penalty corners especially as we had 3 in a stretch. Something we have to look into for the future. Up to 81% of the game we had been leading New Zealand with the solitary goal and in a deadly 3 minutes the Kiwis netted 2 goals off penalty corners. This seem to have taken off the "air" from our boys as their fight back seem to have lost the character they had in the first 81% of the game.

At the final whistle Malaysia was defeated 2-1 by New Zealand. Obviously the players must be sad but they can walk with their heads high up. As "no hopers" they were 13 minutes away from making it into the World Cup. That is how close they came to achieve a dream that has been eluding Malaysian hockey. Some dignity and pride has been restored but the key question is: "Would we be as consistent or better in our future performances". Something that MHF has to look into immediately.

For the moment lets praise our players for their good performance and the coaches plus team management for preparing the team for this tournament. What is important is that we must built on the momentum we have gathered in New Zealand rather than allowing it to fizzle out. Maybe the failure to qualify for the World Cup is a "stepping stone" for future success.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Malaysian hockey team - Considered "no-hopers" make it to World Cup qualifier's final.

Following months of fiasco in the national team and the disappointing performance at the Test matches with Australia, many including myself felt that the national team are going to New Zealand just to make up the "numbers" for the World Cup qualifier. The believe was we would probably be positioned 3rd to 5th at the qualifier. This would mean at the worst case we would be behind New Zealand, China, Austria and Scotland. In a way this would signify the demise of Malaysian hockey.

The bigger picture of national interest and not wanting to provide a "damning" prediction prior to the departure of the team or while the qualifier was on going, made me refrain from writing about the national team. After the 1st match against Austria, where Malaysia drew with a minnow team, confirmed my initial views. Thereafter pulling through with Wales and Scotland by one goal margin, did not in anyway change my sentiments especially taking account of our 4-2 defeat by New Zealand.

Today, taking on China and defeating them 3-0 and making it into the final of the qualifiers, has rekindled a bit of hope in the Malaysia team. Part of the reason is probably that they are going to be 1st or 2nd, which in a way has messed up my prediction and i am pretty happy about it. It is probably the team is "peaking" at the right time and kudos must go to the players, coaches and team management.

Tomorrow they take on New Zealand and that game would determine whether we make it to New Delhi for the 2010 World Cup. I do not want to make a prediction for it is important we all stand and support the team. We may have certain views but it must be forgotten tomorrow, for the most important aspect is for the team to be aware that the whole nation is with them. The players must give more than their best and everything is possible. The show of grit determination combined with passion and intelligent tactics must surely get the Kiwis to become guarded. That "mati mati" spirit would rattle the best of teams in the world.

So Good Luck Malaysia.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

An apology to the National Team Manager

In my article yesterday titled: TM's decisiveness on Beng Hai's "hour of need", i inadvertently omitted to mention George Koshy's name for being supportive of getting Beng Hai's return to Malaysia. As Team manager, George is in New Zealand with the team and is the principal personality holding the reins of the Malaysian contingent.

I duly apologise to George for the error as the omission may have given rise to various other interpretations to the readers of the article. It is my hope that this little note would help to rectify the situation.

This also mean that i can take this opportunity to wish George and the team the very best of luck and hope they are able to fulfill their objective. Good Luck

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

TM's decisiveness in Beng Hai's "hour of need".

Today Beng Hai has arrived in town in a sombre mood as he makes his way to Taiping to be with his family and loved ones, who are gathered to pay their respects to his late father. Beng Hai's father succumbed following a road accident on Monday. At that time Beng Hai had just arrived in New Zealand with the national team for the 2010 World Cup qualifiers.

On receiving the news Beng Hai in his usual self did not want to trouble others nor distract the team, as such he kept the news to himself. If it was not for the kind intervention of MHF, the Malaysian officials in New Zealand would not know of this "heart breaking" news that Beng Hai was carrying himself. Indeed from what we gather Beng Hai wanted to keep things as normal as possible without displaying any emotions. He probably wanted to continue his duty despite the adverse emotional stress he was undergoing. Poor Beng Hai was caught in two worlds i e the duty as a national coach in New Zealand and to be with his family in providing support to one another in this hour of bereavement.

Fortunately, there was a thoughtful MHF official who brought the news of Beng Hai's father's sudden demise to the TM. Apparently without a second thought the TM requested that all necessary things must be done for Beng Hai to return to Malaysia to participate in the last rites for his father. Such decisive action of TM paved the way to get Beng Hai to Malaysia as soon as possible.

While arrangements were being made from Kuala Lumpur, Saiful as Assistant coach and Gopi as Assistant team manager were prepared to hold the reins in Beng Hai's absences. At the same time the concerned Beng Hai felt that once he has fulfilled his obligatory last rites to his father, he would immediately depart for New Zealand to be with the team. This effectively meant that Beng Hai would be in the country for only 24 hours, thereby making it for Malayia's 1st match.

At this moment Beng Hai would be going through a heightened emotional stress level trying to cope with the demise of his father, the grieving scenario of the family and also wondering about his boys in New Zealand. These are challenging times for Beng Hai but what is important is that people have to give and display the much needed support in his hour of need. The TM and MHF had provided the right support while his hockey colleagues are gathering to help him through this grieving moments. What is important is the Malaysian hockey team have to give their best to show to their coach that in his hour of need they are there with the right results. It has to be the team's added passion.

It is only fitting that on behalf of the Malaysian hockey fraternity, may the blog extend our condolences and sympathy to Beng Hai's family and Beng Hai on his father's demise and our prayers for his father's soul.

Friday, October 23, 2009

TM must be commended for being firm on the discipline issue.

On Thursday 22nd, carried an article titled "Door shut on Ismail". In brief, it relates to a discipline issue where a player misled his coach and took leave from training but was caught "red handed" at a online gaming centre. He withdrew from the national team by furnishing a letter to the team manager. The Management Committee accepted his withdrawal and sources indicate that he is not permitted to participate in the national league i e MHL.

On Thursday at Kuantan prior to the 3rd Test match between Malaysia and Australia, the player, certain key MHF officials and the 2 national coaches with the national team manager apparently "ambushed" the TM to ascertain whether the player should be reconsidered for the national team. "Ambush" is the key operative word because there was a confusion created that the player was prepared to withdraw his letter and the TM had "approved" him to be reconsidered for the national team. Obviously there were sufficient personalities with the intelligence to pursue the matter with the TM. Sources indicate that the TM was solidly firm not to change his mind as per the decision of the Management Meeting. Indeed the story goes that the TM was upset with the player, more so as he originates from Pahang.

Analysing the entire episode the said player must either be a "smart cookie" or he has good advisers. His strategy and tactics that he adopted were "good maneuvers" and in a way it may have paid off. The fact that he instantaneously withdrew from the national team after the incident was probably to be outside the ambit of being disciplined by MHF. In fact, that strategy worked as the MHF's Management Committee mildly disciplined him, without referring his case to the Disciplinary Board. This provided him a lifeline and he was able to activate it in Kuantan following the national team's 2 defeats in the hands of the Australians. The timing was immaculate particularly as Malaysia's forward line were "firing" blanks and his recall may have been imminent.

Somewhere good sense prevailed and the TM and various other personalities knew exactly what they wanted. It was a "no go" for the player and therefore the message even though mild in nature was not minced. The decision of the Management Committee remained intact.

It is sad such a young player has to face such consequences. The point being he courted the danger and apparently it was not the 1st time. Maybe this punishment would open his mind and eyes to understand that it does not pay to play truant and on top of it to indulge in an activity where the statistical chances of winning is slim. So why waste the hard earned resources. Now that a major slice of his income is lost i e as a national player, it is probably going to have an impact on his quality of life. This probably would be a lesson to him and i hope with time he matures to realising that he can still work his way back to the national team. Of course he has to drop all the extra unwanted "luggage" he is now carrying. If that happens i am sure MHF would not want to exclude him in the future national teams provided he earns his place. It is probably a price he has to pay and that is the message for other players waiting to don national colours.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

There is no "whomp" in the national hockey team.

I had the pleasure of witnessing a few people exchanging views on the current Malaysian hockey team. This was in pursuant to the 1st and 2nd "Test" match between Australia and Malaysia on Monday and Tuesday at the Tun Razak Stadium. Most of them had strong views and in a nutshell it seem to revolve around the following points:
  • Australia brought a young team and 9 of their senior players are absent and are still playing in Europe.
  • The Malaysian team seem to be "headless" and "speechless" as no one seem to be directing the operations in the field.
  • The Malaysian players basic skills of trapping the ball, goal shooting, creating passing opportunities, supporting the player with the ball, and so forth seem weak.
  • Malaysian players do not seem to have the passion nor the hunger to perform.
  • Although there were glimpses of individual dribbling and taking on the opposing player but the finishing was poor.
  • Save for 1 or 2 players most of the Malaysian players could not "match" the "body contact" approach the Australians had adopted.
  • The Malaysian players lack the imaginative sense to create opportunities to score including through "set pieces".

The Malaysian coaches Beng Hai and Saiful must take these points aboard. After all it is "test" matches and it is important the team's weakness are spotted and worked upon before the qualifiers. Although there is not much time yet the key aspects can be addressed. I am sure Beng Hai must be doing all that is possible to get the best out of the team.

An area that seem disturbing is that there is something missing in the national team. There seem to be no "whomp" factor i e a sense of "cohesive urgency" in the Malaysian game play. I wonder whether the prolonged politicking in the national team over the months have taken the toll that the players are just carrying the "stick" in the field to earn the "caps" and the monthly salary.

I raise this as there are some stories going around about the national team and its management. Firstly, the 1st choice national goalkeeper wanted an extended Deepavali leave to celebrate his 1st year of Deepavali as a married person ( a cultural aspect ), thereby missing the "Test" matches. The 2nd choice goalkeeper overslept before a match and therefore he is yet to be utilised.

Secondly, there is the aspect of announcing the list of players. The names were released last week and yet the team manager remained silent about it. There are strong indications that the relationship is estrange between the team manager and the coaches. This can be of concern as a significant number of national players are in the team manager's club payroll. Finally, early this week the coach had to make it known to the media. It would seem strange why the team manager went on "silent" mode.

Thirdly and interestingly, a former foreign coach with the national team has become privy to what is happening in the national team as some of the current players who were under him are talking. Apparently he is well versed with the situation and that may not be helpful.

All these combined and with the previous discipline issues it seem to have created an aura that nothing is going to go right. Whether this aspect is a figment of ones imagination could also be a question? However the way matters have progressed it seem to indicate otherwise.

If all these are factual events then i can understand why the national team is under performing and the "whomp" factor is missing. Too much of distraction for the players and at the sametime they are being pulled in different directions, thereby making them lose their sense of focus. It is imperative that the individual disgruntling must give way to national interest i e the big picture of the country needing to qualify for the 2010 New Delhi World Cup. The differences have to be shed and everyone must work together as a unit, if we are to make that fundamental difference. The right motivation with the right attitude combined with the right spirit, anything is possible. Lets get the battle jointly going so as we can win the war jointly to qualify for the World Cup.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Malaysian cricket - "A left over from the colonial era but certain officials undyingly maintain that mentality".

The former national coach resigned from the national cricket team after the fiasco of "cheating" him of a trip to Singapore for the ACC tournament at the end of August 2009.The manner in which certain officials conducted themselves on this matter reflect the lack of human understanding in them. They had created a "make believe" scenario as though the local coach was going to the tournament. At the same time they continuously delayed the paper work for him to obtain the necessary leave approvals. It was a process of buying time for they wanted the trainer to join the foreign coach for the trip. This made more 'political" sense for these officials as part of the "back scratching" concept in return for support from the affiliates. Essentially the former national coach was a victim of the maneuvering and manipulation that was being played by 2 key officials and a key staff.

The disgusted coach resigned with a "stinging" letter recommending MCA to continue employing foreign coaches. After all MCA was handsomely paying them with excellent fringe benefits while the local national coach was paid a pathetic attendance allowance. This did not go down well as the Executive Secretary of MCA wanted that part of the written statement to be withdrawn.

The former national coach had been involved with the national team from 1998 and in many ways for the love of the game he had "mortgaged his soul" by tolerating all the rubbish that was dished to him during that long years. He probably reached a "saturation point" when the MCA officials "played their latest number" on him.

Following the diabolical performance of the national team in Singapore and the departure of the foreign coach, there existed a "vacuum" on the coaching front. With the resignation of the local national coach, pressure was building up with the forthcoming of the Carl Schubert Trophy and the Saudara Cup games. Both the Under 23 team and Senior national team respectively needed to get into their regular training sessions. Guess who MCA turned for help? No other than the former local national coach.

What is interesting is that MCA took the coach for "granted" i e the "mortgaged soul". Indeed MCA was so sure he would turn up that they even sent out the leave approval letter to the coach's employer. However it would seem that the local coach had learnt his lesson and was determine to "redeem his mortgaged soul". Apparently now he wanted a formal invitation for the appointment and this MCA hesitatingly agreed.

Sources indicate that the local coach had responded in writing to MCA with his terms if he was to take up the appointment. Apparently he wanted a number of matters to be clearly defined from salaries, allowances to team selection and decision making. The concerned MCA officials were too "shocked" to react as they had underestimated the local coach. It would seem the MCA officials had loss their basic human touch because they always look down at people and communicate.

The officials were not prepared to engage into discussion with the local coach, so they turned to the national under 19 coach as a replacement. This person was the former national wicketkeeper and a amiable character. MCA was cautioned of his lack of ACC coaching certificates in an ACC tournament and yet thereafter MCA did nothing to rectify the situation. This person gladly accepted the appointment as coach for both the games. His terms of appointment is not clear-cut and probably in the future he too would be a victim of MCA's "games".

MCA cannot afford any long term appointments as their cash position is greatly depleted. Indeed the team for Carl Schubert Trophy had their train tickets purchased by a staff who advanced his personal funds. The position is so critical that MCA officials are debating whether they need to "break" their last deposit of RM$50,000 to pay off the long overdue creditors. There is a lot of "balancing act" that is taking place particularly with the "rolling" of funds. Therefore any long term financial commitments are not being considered.

In all this MCA had painted the wrong scenario giving the impression that everything is going on well. They have misled people to a stage they completely forgot or overlooked the human aspects of the issues. MCA played on the emotions of people whose sole "weakness" was the love for cricket. They capitalised on it and used to the maximum and when the time came the person was "constructively" dumped. Still they had the audacity to turn to him and when he wanted matters to be put in their proper perspective, like pushing "buttons" MCA left him in the lurch. Probably because cricket in Malaysia is a left over of the "colonial" era and some officials still strive with such mentality. Sad but it seem to be the operative nature of these people.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Elected or Appointed into MHF - "Some are there just to add to the numbers"

MHF has 10 elected posts while there are 3 Independent members who are appointed. The Chairman of the various Committees like the Coaching, Development, Umpires, Disciplinary and so forth are also appointed position. Some of these positions have they role constitutionally defined i e the President, Secretary and Treasurer. To a certain extent the Deputy President too. Similarly also the function of the Chairman of the various Committees. In all these, the question is whether these people follow what has been enshrined in MHF Constitution?

The area i am looking at is the role of the 6 Vice Presidents. Their function is not clearly defined and a lot has to do with what they have been delegated to handle. The active of the lot is the Chairman of the Competitions Committee. His committee is suppose to have handled the organisation of the Malaysian Hockey League (MHL) and the Razak Cup. In a way they have attempted to re-engineer these tournaments and credit must be given to them for looking at things differently rather than in a stereo type fashion.

Another Vice President is responsible for the Medical Committee and he has been serving MHF for sometime. He is not new and seem to enjoy that position because it gives him accessibility to various hockey parent bodies in the international scenario. He was one of those who wanted to be a candidate for the Deputy President's post but was persuasively discouraged from contesting it last year. In MHF this person has done nothing much in the Medical Committee and indeed some wonder whether he has a committee and if so it would be interesting to look at the Committee's plans. Maybe it operates on an ad-hoc basis because of the traditional outlook of the role of the Medical Committee i e limited in nature. In a way this is sad as Sports Medicine is playing a significant role in modern day and could be under the ambit of the Medical Committee. Sometimes people do not like to venture into new areas.

Lately the Chairman of the Medical Committee has rubbed certain Ministry officials on the wrong side by his style of questioning their development programme. The story is that he has nothing much to do in MHF, therefore it allows him to be critical of others. The believe is that he wants to impress certain parties of his knowledge in hockey.

Then we have a corporate personality who is serving his 2nd term in MHF as Vice President. I believe he is Chairman of the Finance Committee and is responsible for raising funds for MHF. It surprises me that he has time for hockey despite his busy schedule, heavy work load and the responsibilities that he has to burden in the corporate sector. From various sources he is extremely supportive of sports particularly hockey. There is no doubt that with his presences MHF have had sufficiently large sponsorship for various of their events from the organisation he helms.

Another Vice President is a legally trained person who originates from Negri Sembilan. He is the Chairman of Special Projects, which according to many could be anything but at most times has nothing to do. Because of this they have now made him the Assistant Team Manager for the Project 2013 team. It would seem that he is one of those who is pushed "here and there" to fit into situations where they cannot find anybody.

Finally on the last 2 Vice Presidents, MHF have 1 each from the states of Sabah and Sarawak, who constitutionally must be elected to the post. They are there in name but do not appear for the meetings or functions and their contribution is as good as nil. Yet! for all purposes they are Vice Presidents.

The preceding paragraphs in a nutshell provide in summary of the role of the current Vice Presidents of MHF. The post of the Vice President is a key position and yet some of them do not have any major role to play. It seem to be a story of "to many chiefs and very few Indians" ( note that the Indians here denote the American Indians). So how can MHF function when most of them are some form of "chiefs" without an "army" to do the work. This is the saddest aspect in MHF i e only a few are passionately involved because of their love for hockey whereas many are there for various other reasons which is only best known to them.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Discipline issues in hockey cannot be simply "pooh poohed".

Last week saw some interesting developments in hockey. Hockey lovers were treated to details of 2 incidents relating to:
  1. A national hockey player who got leave from training in order to repair his car but was caught "red handed" at a cyber-gaming centre at the material time.
  2. The disciplining of 2 national players who were caught returning wee hours of the morning apparently intoxicated.

Some believe that the players should not be severely punished as:

  1. They are young, not withstanding their years of experience in international hockey.
  2. The centralised training environment forces them into such activities as a form of releasing their tension.
  3. They are much needed in the national team for the World Cup qualifiers.
  4. The nature of incident does not warrant such punishment as it relates to play station activities and returning after curfew hours.

It is strange how the "news splash" with the main media and the alternative media provided a sensational account of the events and yet following it, they want MHF to be lenient in administering the punishment. The rationale for it is based on the reasons outlined above. It would seem that they want to influence the fate of the players and maybe also of the national team. They believe without these 3 players Malaysia shall fore go any chances of qualifying for the World Cup. This is obviously a persuasive "school of thought".

The 2nd "school of thought" is that the discipline issues are fundamental aspect of performance on and off the field. Players have to be aware of this from the onset and it is part of their training to handle such matters. Therefore once MHF unnecessarily "bents" its standards, it has placed itself in a comprising position. This would bound to "haunt" MHF in the future because of the precedent it has set.

In fact the issue at hand is about a player who had lied to the coach and indulged in an activity which has similarities to the past issue relating to the allegations on "match fixing". On the 2nd incident there has been a history of 1 or 2 senior players turning up for training with stench of alcohol and therefore when these 2 players were caught wee hours of the morning apparently intoxicated, one cannot expect NSC & MHF to close their eyes. All these deserve its level of attention irrespective how good or experience the players. 'Justice must not only be done but must be seen to be done", a known maxim in law.

Therefore the level of punishment must relate to:

  1. Severity of the incident.
  2. Was the player a 1st time offender or a repeated offender?
  3. Has the player received warnings or cautions in the past?
  4. Does the player's actions influence others or is he disruptive to the team?
  5. Does the player's actions affect the image of Malaysian hockey?
  6. Is there any mitigating circumstances that must be taken into account before a decision is made?

The answers to the above questions would help to pinpoint the level of punishment that should be handed out to the players. Essentially, this is where the crux of the matters rest.

With all these taking place, it should be noted that the level of absenteeism for training has been significant and now there are rumours that both NSC & MHF have devised a system of deduction that would affect the players monthly remuneration. If that is so, we have to commend both NSC & MHF for taking such pro-active steps to create a system which hurts the players where it matters i e their salary.

Whatever, it is sad that the players have to face such harsh decisions. After all it is based on their own actions but not that of MHF or others. MHF has to do what is right and not what is popular. The integrity of the sport and its future has to be preserved. Any short term gain cannot replace the potential long term repercussions that maybe there if such indiscipline issues are left unattended. The simple rule is "everyone has to account and take responsibility for their actions". That is the only way if Malaysian hockey is to move forward.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

NSC need to change its procedures on disbursement of funds for national teams tour expenses.

Last Monday seem to be a unusual day for Malaysian hockey. On that day a senior national day was caught playing truant from national team training (became a known fact) and the other it was rumoured that the assistant national coach for the ladies team had RM $26,000 stolen after he had received the said. sum from NSC for the ladies tournament that was going on in Bangkok.

Sources indicate that there is some form of news "black-out" and as to why, it is any one's guess. Maybe it is a security measure that they do not want the public to know because such practices are a common feature in NSC's modus operandi. Apparently this time the cash given is small while there were instances in the past where coaches or managers had to carry as much as RM $200,000 to RM $250,000 in cash for foreign tours. The amount depends on the anticipated expenditures from hotel bills, internal travel , players daily allowances to other ancillary expenses.

When i heard this i was totally shocked that in this modern era as the nation works towards a "1st World" status, NSC seem to have an antiquated system of fund disbursements, which probably deserves to be documented and displayed in Muzium Negara. Indeed the current system is such that it only encourage abuses and in the past such stories were well talked about. It has been told that there are times that it is near impossible to get the expenditure report and supporting documents when it comes to close the accounts. Despite all these past stories and experiences, NSC nor MHF had made any changes but rather they seem to be continuing a "3rd World mentality and system" in a country that is striving for "1st World" status.

I cannot understand that in this modern world why do we revert to such "antique" disbursement system. I hope neither NSC nor MHF have their monies in the pillows or in the mattress at the houses of their financial staff for safe keeping. Honestly, most of these payments could be paid by telegraphic or Internet transfers in advance of the tours if they are properly planned , thereby minimising the cash that has to be carried. Even then why the cash? There are sufficient financial papers like the travellers cheques that would help to minimise the risk factors.

What NSC may not be comprehending is that the theft of monies maybe replaceable but what if it is a person's life. Theses days the thieves would do anything to help themselves to the bountiful of monies. I am sure that neither NSC nor MHF would have taken the necessary insurance cover both for the person and the sum of monies they carry. I am sure of that because such covers are expensive.

What further surprises me is how such a system is permitted to exists by both the internal and external auditors. The system has major flaws and yet allowed to operate. It is very strange that this has been going on for so long. I think NSC has to seriously review and make the drastic changes to bring the operating system to a "1st world" methodology with a proper system of controls with minimum of risk factors. Lets not wait for that unfortunate day and regret but rather make that changes immediately.