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.