Monday, April 27, 2009

MHF - "Money Money Money, In a rich mans world."

One of the top Swedish pop group in the 70s and 80s was ABBA and they had many hits, one of which was "Money Money Money". Therefore when the Deputy President of MHF talked to the main stream media of rewarding players for every match that they win in the Asia Cup, it reminded me of the lyrics of ABBA's song.

The lyrics of the ABBA song is about a person having to pay his bills and finding he does not have any penny left. He dreams of becoming a wealthy man without working, so he can fool around with a ball. Its all about being in a rich mans world.

I do not know whether the Deputy President of MHF is tempting his players to become rich by winning the games, so as they can have a quality of life of a rich man. Of course he was not able to quantify the amounts involved but used Sultan Azlan Shah Tournament as a yardstick, where each player was rewarded with RM 2000 for being a losing finalist. Firstly, why does the Deputy President want to make such issues public. If so, i think it is also incumbent upon him to provide the full information. Here, all he has done is purely to "wet the appetite" of the reporters with some "half baked" news. Does the Deputy President wants to give the impression that he is calling the shots? Maybe as Chairman of the Team Management Committee (TMC), he feels it is his duty. Fair, but the Deputy President "should not shoot himself in the feet" by not having details.

It is strange why such ad-hoc decisions are being made. Is money the main criteria for the team's performance? If so, i think MHF may in fact be giving credentials to the allegations on "match fixing". I know that is not intended but please do not allow it to be misconstrued, as this is being done on a "piecemeal" basis without sound reasons. Why the sudden change, especially without realising the ramifications that may follow.

Even more mind blogging, where is MHF going to get their funds? It is an "open secret" that MHF is yet to pay the prize money of the 2008 Malaysian Hockey League. So, why create all these financial liabilities without a comprehensive outlook. Equally the National Juniors may ask for the same arrangement and maybe the National Under 16, who shall be heading out for the Hanover 4 Nation tournament, may also want to be incorporated into the scheme. After all it is a "rich mans world", why not they too have the "spoils". How right ABBA was!!!!!!

Incentives must not be left "stand alone", rather built into a remuneration package for players taking account of the following:

  • Basic Salary - It must be based on the number of "caps' players have earned. In this manner the more caps players achieve, the higher the basic salary.

  • Training Allowance - Should be based on fulfillment of stipulated benchmarks on fitness levels, criteria on bio-medicine and sports science including drug and alcohol tests.

  • Winning incentives and Defeat penalties - Games where players are entitled to earn caps, there should be an incentive amount for winning and penalty for defeats. There maybe different criteria for qualifying for semi-finals and finals taking account of the category of tournaments.

  • Termination or "dropping" from team clauses - Standard policies and procedures if players do not fulfill some of the benchmarks particularly when it comes to training allowance.

If such a scheme is put into place, it captures the broad areas that a player needs to pay attention and improve himself. The scheme itself becomes a self regulating regime for the players in key areas. This would ensure that players are made to earn their place in the national team and therefore their remuneration. There is no free ride.

MHF has to be far-sighted, not just to "look beyond one's nose". It is the ad-hoc decision that complicate matters. It may provide some temporary solution but in the long run it would create bigger issues. It is fundamental for MHF to get down to strategic planning, if there is a genuine interest to ensure Malaysian hockey succeeds. Essentially changing the mind set of players and officials.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Malaysian Juniors and the Seville Tournament.

The Malaysian Juniors had gone to Spain to participate in the Seville Hockey Tournament. In fact at Seville there were 3 tournaments i.e Under 21, Under 18 and Under 16. At all the tournaments the teams were European nations except for Malaysia at the Under 21.

In the the Under 21, Malaysia had to pit their talents against some of the top teams in Europe namely Spain, England and Germany. All these teams are participating at the Junior World Cup 2009 in June, which is co-hosted by Malaysia and Singapore. Effectively the tournament becomes a good trial run for the teams,

The results of the tournament:
  • Spain 2-1 Malaysia.
  • Spain 1-5 Germany.
  • England 3-3 Malaysia.
  • England 3-5 Spain.
  • Germany 2-2 Malaysia.
  • Germany 3-6 England.

Final placing as follows:

  • Spain 6 pts.
  • England 4 pts.
  • Germany 4 pts.
  • Malaysia 2 pts.

The results were extracted from FIH website.

At this stage the final placing is not a major point. It is Malaysia's performance with some of the best teams in the world must be the basis of any discussions. 2 draws and a defeat is fairly a good result. The key issue is how did we perform in each game and the other question is whether the opponents were playing on a lower "gear".

More important the coaches have got a feel for the European teams and can carefully plan their strategy and game tactics for the JWC. Ultimately it is their performance at JWC that matters and the team has 6 weeks to perfect their strength and weakness.

Friday, April 24, 2009

MHF - "Should Jiwa Mohan be recalled?."

Is Malaysian hockey in desperate times? I ask this question because i believe that in desperate times, desperate measures are taken. Therefore is the recall of retired international like Jiwa Mohan, an act of desperation by the management of the national team.

My first thought is that this is a crazy thing to do especially as the national team has already been training together for nearly 4 months and having done the South Korean tour plus the Sultan Azlan Shah tournament. It would seem that the coaches had come to this realisation at such a late stage, that a player of Jiwa Mohan's status is required i.e 3 weeks before the commencement of Asia Cup.

What worries me, is whether a last minute inclusion of Jiwa Mohan would disrupt the team spirit and structure. The hockey lads have been working out as a team and when someone comes and takes over one of their friends place, would this go down well with the rest?

Further the coaches are assuming that Jiwa Mohan is in "tip top" condition. I do not know if the team management have been in communication with the club he is playing for in Australia, to determine his performance level. Surely before MHF gets him back to Malaysia, it would be wise also to ask the Western Australian Sports Institute to assess his fitness and recovery levels. I think MHf should not wait and then become pro-active only once he is Malaysia.

Now itself i must caution the coaches that if Jiwa Mohan does not play to expectation or creates major fumbles in the Asia Cup, then the coaches must face the onslaught consequences. No! i am not threatening anyone except to alert them.

Having given one side of the argument, we must now look at the other side and see through the eyes of Beng Hai and Saiful, the national coach and his assistant respectively. They are obviously not shaking their legs, sitting down and just collecting their salaries. Given the challenge to handle the national squad, they too have a destiny to fulfill. They have started on the right track but the key question is whether they have sufficient quality players. In Malaysian context maybe but pitted against international teams, there are glaring weakness.

It is probably in this context that Beng Hai & Saiful maybe recalling Jiwa Mohan. Afterall he is still playing competitive hockey and the presumption is he must be fit. Further he had just retired from international hockey and the advantage is that he has played with most of the current players. Therefore fitting into the team is not an issue.

The coaches believe that Jiwa Mohan is a good penalty shot specialist and he is a versatile player. In fact he would become a major asset to the team. Jiwa Mohan is a hard working and has tremendous fighting spirit. He would add that extra "kick" to the team.

Honestly, i think recalling Jiwa Mohan is a wise decision by the coaches, as it would sent a message that players cannot take things for granted. Nobody is indispensable and if it means any time other players have to be recalled, the coaches have that right. Players must know that there is competition for places in the national squad.

I think what is important is for Beng Hai & Saiful to get they team ready for the Asia Cup and perform to the level that would truly make Malaysians proud of our boys.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Asian Cricket Council honours Federal Territory Cricket Association.

After the article on Tunku Imran, i received a mail referring me also to Asian Cricket Council (ACC) website:, on an award being given to Federal Territory Cricket Association with regards to Junior Development. Obviously the message did not give me anything else and I had to slog a bit when I surfed ACC's website. The other thing being the message is of a non-reply category, it was impossible to revert to the original source for clarification.

The ACC website covers a number of areas on Development and the aspect of the award for FTCA comes under the heading of "Development News". Under the sub-heading of "Asia's Development Winners", the various categories of winners for the Asian region were announced. FTCA was named as winner under the "Best Junior Cricket Initiative". Sadly, ACC had not provided a synopsis of FTCA's achievements to be winner under this category.

However the ACC Development Manager, Bandula Wamapura had this to state: "These awards are important as they recognise and appreciate the hard work and development". With this FTCA's name had been submitted to an International Cricket Council (ICC) panel to be considered on a worldwide basis. I believe FTCA had missed out on winning that award.

Still FTCA and its Committee must be congratulated for getting the award as Asia's best in Junior cricket initiative. Well done! I hope that FTCA would publicise their award and the details of their junior programme. Unfortunately, i have no access to such information to exactly understand the greatness of FTCA's programme.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Tunku Imran being honoured for his services to cricket.

Tunku Imran, 61, President of Malaysian Cricket Association (MCA) and also of Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) was honoured by the International Cricket Council (ICC) with the Lifetime Service Achievement Award. Being President of MCA for nearly 17 years, this is a fitting honour by the world apex body of cricket to Asia's long serving cricket administrator. It has to be noted that Tunku has taken MCA into a different paradigm, if we were to compare to what it was prior to 1992.

In an interview published at Asian Cricket Council (ACC) website, , Tunku Imran believes that the honour must be shared with his family and with all those involved with him in cricket. He takes the view that it is a team effort, very much like cricket, for which he happened to be the leader. A true sportsman, sharing his glory with everyone who interacted with him in cricket. Humility of the highest order by this Negri Sembilan Prince.

This aspect is best seen when Tunku Imran elaborates that cricket is a gentlemen's game and over the years all the people he dealt with are gentlemen. Seriously, it would seem that despite all the criticisms levelled against him, Tunku Imran has no axe to grind. It would seem he himself is a perfect gentleman. Obviously a rare breed...

On Malaysian cricket, Tunku Imran in the interview talked about MCA's suspension and how initially it depended on individual donations to sustain its activities. He also spoke about their attempt to bring professionalism into the management of MCA plus how the funds from ICC and ACC assisted in increasing the level of MCA's activities. One of their biggest hurdle, is the need to prove to the public and government that cricket is very much part of Malaysian sporting structure. This, he believes, is the key to the very future of cricket in Malaysia.

It would seem Tunku Imran spoke from his heart and he still dreams that one day the country can be in the world stage. He talks of how affiliates follow the political structure similar to the concept of states forming a Federation and as such the affiliates have their own autonomy. This in a way has let the states to organise their own leagues and tournaments, which in some cases may or may not happen. A price one pays for the concept of decentralisation.

Tunku Imran did cover other areas for e.g the lack of Malaysian Chinese in cricket, facilities, organisational skills and other interesting topics. I do recommend cricket lovers to visit the ACC's website and you would have an insight of Tunku Imran.

I take this opportunity on behalf of all cricket lovers to congratulate Tunku Imran on being honoured by ICC with the Lifetime Service Achievement Award.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Kamaruddin Maidin's demise reignites the issue of "remembering" Malaysia's former athletes.

The late Kamaruddin Maidin's demise is a blow to the Malaysian sporting community. A 5 time Sea Games champion in long jump and triple jump, he was a popular figure in the Malaysian sporting scene in the 60s. This was the golden era of Malaysian athletics in particular the 1966 Asian Games at Bangkok. Rajemah, the widow of Kamaruddin is herself a former national athlete and is currently Terengganu AAA's Secretary.

From the national dailies, it was reported that Rajemah was disappointed with certain Sports agencies for their failure to visit Kamaruddin. I am sure anyone in the right mind would agree with Rajemah's views especially as Kamaruddin had stepped on the winning podium for Malaysia on numerous occasion and ensuring the national flag is hoisted with the national anthem being played. Kamaruddin did the nation proud and he must always be viewed as a national asset of the country like many of our other national athletes..

I was of the impression that the Foundation for sports persons headed by Datuk Seri Dr Mumtaz Jaffar would be calling on Kamaruddin. There was a lot of publicity given to the proposed visit. If the visit had materialised then in all fairness the sporting community must be proud of the Foundation's action.

Kamaruddin's demise reignites an issue whether we look after our retired sports persons, who during their heydays would have toiled for hours, days, months and years to ensure that glory is brought to Malaysia. Although there may be veterans outfits to congregate for specified reasons but in the main they are left alone. Some of them do not care about it while others accept that it is a fact of life to be ignored once you are not there. There are many who feel disappointed and disgusted that their services were not remembered. Sometimes i wonder whether we are really a "caring" society.

Kamaruddin's demise and his widow's statement pricked me and the matter got compounded when i watched the English FA Cup semi- finals over the weekend. It was a great feeling watching how the football community in England paid respect to the fans who died at the Hillsborough incident 20 years ago. Importantly, representatives of the deceased fans were present as the whole of Wembly Stadium paid their respect. Apparently, other football matches in England also honoured the death fans. What makes it unique was it is about fans, not about players or sportsmen. The point being that even fans as stakeholder of sports is remembered.

In Malaysia we need to cultivate this habit of remembering our sportsmen. Simple things like inviting them for functions or creating a special day to congregate would go a long way. Indeed i was totally lost for words when i discovered that in this year's National Sports Award ceremony, many former Olympians were omitted from being invited for the function. The pinnacle of sports is participating in the Olympic and that should give former Olympians some rights. Instead, others who are friends or minor officials find themselves at such functions. It becomes a great disappointment for the former Olympians when they see this sort of things happening. The former Olympians become a "lost tribe" in the sporting community.

In fact when the Olympic touch run took place in Malaysia last year, a number of people not connected to sports participated. No! It is not wrong and I am not complaining except when you omit the true former Olympians from the event. The argument that was forwarded, is that those who were interested could have applied to participate.. Honestly, is that a way to treat our former Olympians? After all, how many surviving Olympians does the nation have? Not thousands, maybe 100 or 150 at the maximum.

Indeed both the National Sports Council (NSC) and Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) should have a section in their outfit, having the database of former athletes and categorise them based on their achievements. They can then invite them for functions which is appropriate for their presences. If they can even have a journal or magazine printed twice a year , it would help to keep everybody informed. I cannot understand why we cannot do it. As Asians we have been looking after our aged parents or grandparents and why not our aged athletes.

I hope Kamaruddin Maidin's death would help our sports officials to ponder and do the needful to our former athletes. They have served us and it is our turn to serve them. Do not let them be forgotten!

Meantime may i extend on behalf of the Malaysian sporting community, our deepest condolences to Rajemah and her family and our prayers for his soul to rest in peace. The late Kamaruddin thrilled the Malaysian fans for nearly a decade and every jump he took was for the glory of Malaysian sports. Therefore how can we ever forget Kamaruddin Maidin.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Gossips with regard to discipline issues in the Malaysian national hockey team.

Malaysia was the beaten finalist at the recent Sultan Azlan Shah tournament at Ipoh. Malaysia started well but as the tournament progressed we were either drawing our matches or losing. Part of the reason is probably the coaches were trying out various combinations or the players were not recovering fast enough as they play more matches. The good thing is that the coaches at least have time to sort out the issues before the Asia Cup in May 2009.

Unfortunately the gossip emerging out of Ipoh as part of the post tournament comments reflect certain unsavoury things that had taken place. It is with regards to a particular senior national player, who on most occasions tend to be on the bench and as the game proceeded he was brought in as a substitute player. Not happy with that, he had moaned and groaned on being used in such basis. The story that was told, is in the presence of other players some of his comments may tantamount to belittling the coaches. Indeed it is a reflection of the lack of discipline in the player. Apparently this player is also known to have come for morning training sessions smelling with alcohol from his late night parties.The gossip also elaborates that the national team manager is aware of the situation and he was suppose to have had a chat with the player. Nothing seem to have change and there is a feeling that the player who plays for the team manager's team at the Malaysian Hockey League (MHL) and the KL League, got away with it. Interesting to note that majority of the national players play for the team manager's team in both the leagues. Many wonder whether there is a conflict, while others believe it could be convergence of interest. Something the jury is still out on !!!!!!!!!

This particular gossip has an interesting dimension because the concerned player had been embroiled in the match fixing allegations. The matter still remains unresolved and it is difficult to comprehend whether it is still on the agenda in MHF. Being a senior player he does yield some influence and some people indicate he has his close friends in the team. At this stage, one cannot confirm whether the player has any negative influence on others except that the coaches must do something before ill discipline sets into the team.

The story in Ipoh continues and it is about the TM, as President of MHF. Concerned that this senior player was not featured in a game, the TM enquired from the Chairman of the Team Management Committee (TMC) i.e the Deputy President of MHF, who indicated that the player was injured. In fact so concerned was the TM of the senior player, the TM made his way from the VVIP Stand to the players bench. There the TM found out the truth and probably he must be wondering why he was misled by his Deputy. The reason the senior player was not in the team, was for discipline reasons.

The issue had taken a wider spectrum when the lobbyists started their work. The so called lobbyists have spoken to a few in the right places to ensure that the senior player is kept in the team for the other matches. The "wings" of support is so extensive that people do not worry of right or wrong. These lobbyists whisper in the right ears of so and so in the hockey fraternity, with the intent to bear pressure. The whole exercise is "scratching each others back", nothing to do of what is good for Malaysian hockey.

It would seem that various quarters in MHF have their own agenda and the TM seem to find out these things the hard way. Some say that the TM "dressed down" his Deputy while others indicate that the TM was totally disgusted. Again there are no independent confirmation of the TM's view on the matter. One thing is for sure, slowly the TM is coming to know how MHF is operating.

I started this article on whether the players are recovering fast enough to take the pace of the tournament. I raised this point because as part of the gossip, it would seem that there are still players who are merrily puffing away i.e cigarettes. I thought that the Sports Institute is monitoring the players? If so, it maybe worthwhile to determine what is the level of improvement. Part of the problem is that the players have too much of free time that some have cultivated the "lepak" habit and with it comes the smoking culture.

The coaches must be strict and lay down their rules. Sometimes we Malaysians are compassionate people that we easily compromise or the "higher ups" may want the coaches to go easy. If that is so, then that is the price we have to pay i.e an ill discipline team. This becomes the benchmark and that would be the legacy that future national teams would follow, as we are now paying the price.

The coaches must ensure that there are no "bad apples" in the basket. If there are people who do not want the "bad apples" to be removed then i think the coaches must give their "walking certificates" and leave. This is the principle that the coaches have to abide. If they do not practice it than they cannot preach the required standards. For things to improve there is need for sacrifices and sometimes the only way is to drop such characters from the team. The coaches have to be firm and not cave in to pressure. The coaches better understand a simple concept: "If the team does well, it is because they played well. If the team does badly, it is because of their coach". More often than not, the coaches get the sack.This is the fact of life.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Rest in peace my friend Affendi Stephens.

At the age of 50, one is at his prime and so was Tuan Haji Affendi Tun Mohd Stephens until his family and friends were stunted by his sudden demise yesterday. Affendi a jovial personality, who seldom gets angry and when he does then one surely knows his temper, died of heart complications after recovering from an angioplasty performed on him in Singapore.

I came to know Affendi a good 22 years and he is a great person to be with. Full of stories from his days in Parliament, about Sabah and its politics, about his younger days and lately the business world. The manner he conveys the story is full of fun and the laughter that follows represents the delight he takes in telling the stories.

Affendi enjoys good food and nothing would stop him from indulging. Even reminders of his size and the warnings given would just pass through his ears. He was one of those who did not want to be imprisoned by not doing this or that. He wanted to continue his bubbly nature and it was such that everyone who knew him enjoyed his company. That was Affendi

He was President of Sabah Cricket Association and when he was roped in to contest for Vice President of MCA, i had the opportunity to talk to him before the election. In his own words: " These guys wanted me and that is why i am here". This is Affendi and his popularity was so high that he had the highest number of votes in the election.

Affendi is also a person who gets bored with things fast especially long prolonged meetings. He loves to see decisions made fast rather than procrastinating over the issues. He shows his boredom by "napping" at meetings, a hallmark of Affendi.Those who know him understand this style of Affendi.

It is a sad that such a young and jovial character has to depart from this world at this stage of his life. His friends would definitely miss him and more so his family. We extend our condolence and sympathy to his family and bade farewell to our friend Affendi with prayers for him to rest in peace.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

MCA - "Seem to lack personalities to handle various of the portfolios"

The administrative heartbeat of any organisation is usually the Secretary. So much, sometimes the post is referred to as General Secretary. The term "general" could refer to a hierarchical position i.e putting the person in a commanding position or it may mean that he does everything that is generalise in nature and nobody else is specified to handle it. The Secretary of an organisation must not be underestimated, for he is the person who is aware of the "pulse rate" of what is happening, as most things go through him. Not having an able Secretary would always put an Organisation in a chaotic situation and similar, if the Secretary does not support his boss.The post itself provides an ostensible authority to the holder.

While the Secretary derives such powers, very seldom he is given other positions to further enhance his powers. Part of the reason is that he has got enough in his plate and if he is "loaded" with more in other areas, something has to suffer. Further, if one person holds too much of positions, it may reflect that there are insufficient capable people and at times the various portfolios may create conflicting positions.

Now lets come to the elected Secretary of MCA. He has held this position for sometime and then he got himself upgraded through an electoral process as Vice President. Strangely when the MCA election was held this time in 2009, he reverted to his former position of Secretary. Having indulged in a higher position, he seem to want the comforts of the old position. Maybe the 2 year break from the post of Secretary has given him a better perspective of undertaking the job.

If that is all then this article probably would not have been written. What is shocking is the decision making process in MCA Exco, which has "loaded" the Secretary with the portfolios of Chairman of Competition Committee and Chairman of Umpires Board. Maybe the Exco believes that the Secretary does not have much work or he is the only person in the Exco who could undertake the tasks or maybe even the "Superman" of cricket administration.

Whatever the reason, i think the MCA Exco is totally unfair to its Secretary. They are overburdening him and if anything goes wrong he would be on the "firing" line. The chances of this happening is so great and this has been reflected as MCA has already delayed the commencement of the national league by 6 to 8 weeks. Now there are issues of postponement of games. With this backdrop, he also has to extend his resource to the Umpires and officials. Somewhere the "seams" would have to give way.

This "one man band wagon" cannot go on like this. When it comes to Reports, he not only has to provide a full report of what is happening but also has to extract one from his own portfolios. In meetings when the issue of his portfolios is discussed, does he always excuse himself as Secretary and wear the "hats" of the other position. If he is reprimanded for his failures in the other Committees, where would his "standing" be as Secretary. When there is conflict between the Umpires, players and Competition officials, where would he be "standing". These are not unusual occurrence, as they have taken place in the past and there is nothing to stop them from happening in the future.

Good sense must prevail in MCA to rectify this situation. Please do not make it look that there are no others in MCA capable of doing the job. Even so, why not co-opt the right personalities to undertake it. It would seem that the decisions were made out of expediency rather than a carefully thought process. MCA cannot allow this sort of things to happen. It may give the impression that standards are not a core ingredient in MCA administration. If the administrators are sloppy in decision making, then do not expect much from the rest including also from the game.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Beng Hai & Saiful - " The battle maybe lost but the war is still to come".

Malaysia was a losing finalist at yesterday's Sultan Azlan Shah Trophy finals. Beaten by India 3-1, this was Malaysia's 2nd defeat to the Indians in a few days. Still, the team must be congratulated for getting into the finals and putting up a gallant fight. Detractors would state that the tournament does not attract the top teams and therefore it was a easy passage for Malaysia. It maybe so but it is still better to enter the finals than failing to be there.

The tournament has no bearing on Malaysia's ranking or qualification to the World Cup or the Olympics. Therefore this tournament is more a "battleground" for the national team to prepare for the war i.e qualifying for the World Cup and Olympic. Battlegrounds or better to put it as actual stimulation of the game, to know of the team's strength and weakness plus that of the opponents.

Asia Cup in May 2009 would put us into direct confrontation with either India or Pakistan in the semi-finals, provided we get past the Japanese in our Group. The Champion of Asia Cup gets direct entry to the 2010 World Cup. Effectively this should be Beng Hai's target.

Sultan Azlan Shah tournament has given Beng Hai and Saiful a sample of the Indians and Pakistanis play. This should help in Malaysia's preparation. Equally, Beng Hai and Saiful must be cognisant that the tournament has given Malaysia's potential opponents in the semi-finals an awareness of Malaysia's game and therefore it becomes "battle of the minds" for coaches to ensure the charges win the war. This is what that is going to make the Asia Cup interesting.

Beng Hai must also take note that in the Sultan Azlan Shah tournament, the more games Malaysia played, the performance seem to be dipping. We started well with the first 2, then followed by a defeat, a draw and finally a defeat. I do not know whether we should make much of it. An analysis may reflect that players maybe game fit but not tournament fit or the style of play is such that opponents can easily read us. Just something the coaches may want to ponder.

Beng Hai and Saiful, the real test for the team is within a month away and being Champion of the Asia Cup, is what that matters. Good Luck.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

FIH pro-actively engages with Asian hockey. Is it a fact?

Leandro Negre the newly elected President of FIH took the trouble to communicate to the Asian hockey fraternity that "FIH is committed in helping Asian hockey." This message was spelt out in his article as a Sunday Guest in today's Sunday Times. It is probably that he is in Malaysia meeting the President of AHF and plus the fact that earlier he was in India where the predicament related to the 2010 World Cup is high on his agenda. Maybe also his conscience is pricking him on the question of equitable Asian & African representation in FIH and its Committees.

Whatever it is, this former hockey Olympian has taken the time and is making the right moves to see the revival of hockey in Asia. He cannot let his period at the helm of FIH see the continuous decline of hockey in the Asian and African continent. History must not document that he permitted the game of hockey to be dominated by Europe, Oceania and the North Americans. It could get even more damaging if history interprets that the game and its administration was dominated by "caucasian" type people and that probably contributed to the decline. More so as Leandro Negre was the former President of European Hockey Federation.

I am not planting any seeds of racism or doubt but circumstances may allow such interpretation and this is why equitable Asian and African representations is paramount. The famous legal maxim comes very appropriate: "Justice must not only be done but must be seen to be done".

It is good to note that FIH is helping Asia by providing hockey sticks and balls. It is also endeavouring to help India, once a major force in hockey. I salute Leandro Negre for these actions but i think it is only the " tip of the iceberg" and not the iceberg itself. I believe a comprehensive plan for Asia, Africa including South America must be put in place to uplift hockey. This must cover promotion of the game , development - players, coaches & officials, affordable infrastructure, facilities & equipments and rules of the game.

Leandro Negre must appreciate that these are the issues that inhibit the game to flourish in these continents. Indeed, why is FIH reluctant to keep and organise grass hockey? Yet it promotes indoor, which itself is not readily accessible to most Asians and Africans like grass. This itself reflects the imposition of developed nations style & standards on developing and poorer countries. Therefore, is FIH really helping hockey let alone Asia and Africa?

No! I am not turning the cloak back. All i want Mr Negre to be aware is that while his endeavours are extremely good, please appreciate nine tenth (9/10th) of the "iceberg's" issues remain unattended. If Leandro believes it is a start, then GREAT! The President of FIH must have strategies, master plans and time lines, if he really wants Asia, Africa and South America to flourish the game in their continents.

In the meantime Mr Negre, I must congratulate you for pro-actively engaging Asia.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Cricket: "Malaysia, Ireland and Scotland among Pakistan's offshore options"

Below is a text that was transmitted to my blog as a comment on the article, MCA:Please respond, dated 31st March 2009.

Very interesting but what is MCA's position? The rest are clamouring for it, yet MCA may seem to be very cool about it or maybe it is their "tidak apa" attitude. Come MCA, lets have your comments.

"April 9, 2009

The night sky at the Kinrara Academy Oval, Australia v West Indies, 1st match, DLF Cup, Kuala Lumpur, September 12, 2006Pakistan could play home games at the Kinrara Oval in Kuala Lumpur © Dileep Premachandran

Malaysia, Ireland and Scotland have emerged as surprise contenders to host future Pakistan "home" series. Ijaz Butt, the chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board, confirmed that those nations, along with England and the United Arab Emirates, could become the Pakistan team's foreign base while the domestic security risk remained high.

While stressing his desire for cricket to make a prompt return to Pakistan, Butt said his board would announce in the next month neutral venues for impending international series. Butt has already held discussions with Giles Clarke, chairman of the ECB, regarding the feasibility of England hosting next year's Test series between Pakistan and Australia, and will soon decide where other matches will be based.

"We have a number of alternatives before us, and we are investigating their suitability as host venues," Butt told Cricinfo. "We have spoken with the ECB, and we will speak again with Giles Clarke when we all get together for the next ICC meeting in Dubai. There are other alternatives too. Kuala Lumpur, Ireland and Glasgow are among those. Nothing has been finalised at this stage but we will hope to make a decision in the next month."

Pakistan will return to competitive cricket this month when they play Australia in a five-match one-day series, followed by a one-off Twenty20 match, in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. They have not played since the terror attack on the Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore on March 3, and now face an uncertain future with teams unwilling to tour in the immediate future due to the security risk.
England and the UAE have previously been discussed as potential foreign bases for the Pakistan team, but Malaysia, Ireland and Scotland emerged as new contenders. In 2006, Kuala Lumpur's Kinrara Academy Oval hosted a triangular one-day series featuring India, Australia and West Indies. Ireland and Scotland, meanwhile, host international cricket on a more regular basis, as their respective national teams attempt to ascend from the Associate ranks.

"Some have contacted us, and others we have inquired about," Butt said. "We are investigating all possibilities. We want teams back in Pakistan as soon as possible, but for now it is important that we ensure matches still progress."

Warren Deutrom, the chief executive of Cricket Ireland, confirmed he had held preliminary discussion with the PCB's chief operations officer, Salim Altaf, and was amenable to the idea of hosting Pakistan matches.

"Our aim is to heighten interest in cricket in Ireland," Deutrom said. "We are trying to build an argument that we are a sufficiently viable cricket nation to make the step up to the elite level. To be able to host Pakistan in limited overs and even Test matches could only help us in attracting more interest in the sport. We would be more than happy for Pakistan to play here."

Monday, April 6, 2009

Sultan Azlan Shah Trophy: Well done Beng Hai & his boys.

This morning, the dailies seem to be full of accolades for Malaysia's victory over Pakistan at the Sultan Azlan Shah Hockey Tournament. A 3-2 win in favour of Malaysia would definitely give a good booster to the players and the team management. Malaysian hockey needs good news and obviously this victory helps the situation a lot.

It also helps the coaches as they are literally on "trial", to determine whether they remain just in "interim" status or become a permanent feature. Kudos to Beng Hai and Saiful for getting the best out of their boys. Everyone would be watching to see whether the team can sustain their good start.Consistency in performance is the key to success. Lets not be "jaguh kampong" one day, then go on to perform badly where it matters.

Some may argue and would want to throw cold water to Malaysia's victory. Their argument is that teams coming for the tournament barring Egypt, are not full strength and are having a young team or are blending their team.. For them they are working through to see the suitable combination for the tournaments that make a difference like the Asia Cup or the World Cup qualifiers. It is an argument but the same can be said of Malaysia too. Probably Beng Hai is also getting his players to peak for the Asia Cup and this tournament is just a "build up".

Lets enjoy Malaysia's victory and permit the coaches to continue getting the best out of the team. Good luck Malaysia.

FTCA Elections: A tame affair.

Wilfred Abraham's idea of rest and recreation i.e getting away from sports politics, has been derailed at least by 1 year last Friday, as he was re-elected unopposed as President of FTCA. Last minute, 2 of the contestants withdrew as they had no reason to attempt to snatch the post from the incumbent President. Ensuring the incumbent President is re-elected without a contest, reflects the highest degree of respect bestowed on to Wilfred Abraham by the FTCA membership.

Apparently, the General Meeting had a high turnout i.e a 100% increase from a normal crowd of 20, as last Friday's gathering had about 40. Suresh Menon was elected as Vice President, while the Secretary and Treasurer were unopposed on Nomination day. The contest for Committee members saw the exit of Ronald Quay and the entry of P Krishnasamy (PK). Obviously PK would be an asset to FTCA. Above all, it would seem that the "opposition" has been tamed in FTCA.

Now FTCA have got the "same kind of thinking people" in their set-up. Life must now be a bliss for FTCA. Therefore lets see cricket doing more of the talking. Good Luck FTCA.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

MHF "bail out" schemes - Now its the Asia Cup and maybe later the World Cup.

One thing I must hand to MHF is that they seem to come out as saviours to their parent bodies on a number of occasions. Either we have the propensity to work hard with short notice or we have a bottomless pit of monies or we just enjoy doing it. We did it with FIH for the Champions Trophy in November 2007, where we incurred a debt of RM 1.3m. We were orchestrated to co-hosts the Junior World Cup (JWC) 2009 and have to spend a minimum of RM 20.0 m for infrastructure and facilities. Now we are bailing out UAE, who were to organise the Asia Cup for Asian Hockey Federation (AHF). Finally there is rumour floating around that we may be requested to organise the 2010 World Cup, in view of security issues in India.

The good thing in all of this is that at least the world leaders in hockey have a high impression of Malaysia's organising abilities. Since we do not seem to be doing well in the game, there is still this "face saving" ability, our organisational skills. MHF is unable to bail out the performance of its national teams but it has the strength to bail out its parent bodies. Obviously MHF is a good "son", but the question is at what price.

We had a nasty experience with the Champions Trophy in 2007. It made MHF poorer by RM 1.3m, which could have been spent for development or other aspects relating to the promotion of hockey at grassroots.. Instead of that all we got was to co-hosts the JWC 2009, last placing in the tournament and 20 points to contribute to our world ranking, which has helped to keep us in 15th position.

Therefore the question we have to ask is: What is the costs of organising the Asia Cup in Kuantan? Before we tackle this issue, i am concerned why UAE withdrew from being the host at the last minute. It cannot be economics, as the country is blessed with wealth. Unless the new facilities they were building will not be ready in time. If that is so, then AHF must review their system of monitoring, as there must be lapses, for the early warning bells had not alerted them till the 11th hour. If i am not mistaken AHF had a similar problem, when a host nation withdrew from the Asian Champions Club tournament and finally it was held in Malaysia, with Kuala Lumpur Hockey Association (KLHA) stepping in to help. Since it seem to have recurred within a short spell AHF must take steps to avoid such problems, more so with the current world economic scenario.

AHF has kindly waived the tournament levy, for UAE had already paid it. Indeed it is good gesture on the part of AHF. The 1st area that MHF must be concerned is the capital costs related to the electronic scoreboard, the lighting, the upgrading of facilities and the pitches. Those who played the Razak Cup there last year believe that a lot of work need to be done to have the stadium ready for an international tournament. These are expenditures that relate to the Local Council and to the State Government.The stadium needs to be repaired and why not this tournament provide the reason to do so. Of course the question is at these times does the country need to indulge into such expenditure. The point is that the stadium needs work done and delays would only escalate the costs. Such works become a much needed economic activity for the state.

The area MHF would be exposed is the operational costs of organising the tournament ranging from board and lodging to internal transport to allowances to official dinners and etc etc. Sponsors would come in handy but the key element is, would it cover all the operational costs. The prestigious tournament like the Champions Trophy left a bad taste for MHF except then they did not have TM as the President. Maybe the TM can wave his wand and ensure there are sufficient sponsors to underwrite the operational costs. Alternatively, if MHF is aggressive in their approach, they should request AHF to indemnify MHF from incurring any debts in organising the Asia Cup.

MHF must be aware that in organising the sponsors for the Asia Cup, there is an "opportunity costs" concept that they are foregoing. Since the sponsors provide the funds for the tournament, it effectively means that such funds would not be available for MHF to undertake their activities in development, local tournaments, seminars and training and so forth. It further means that MHF has to go out even more extensively with their begging bowl.

Finally, will our senior national team perform to become champions of the Asia Cup at home ground. This would give them direct entry to the 2010 World Cup. The team manager speaks highly of his team, the coach joins in the chorus but do the players share the same sentiment. MHF in its "bail out" of this tournament obviously must have had the aspect of home ground advantage and direct entry to the World Cup in its decision making process. The question being: Will the players perform to the level to become Champions? Failing which maybe the "insurance" is "bailing out" the 2010 World Cup and Malaysia shall automatically qualify for the tournament. Just an idea and not that, it would not have been thought about by MHF.