Sunday, May 31, 2009

A major let down for the National Under 16 hockey team!

When players are Under 16, they are usually at Form 3 or 4 and in a way the pressures are not that heavy as students preparing for SPM. Therefore these young lads (exception being the PMR students) would have more time to concentrate on hockey. With the trip to Germany at the end of the tunnel, it would have set a real competition for the players. An expectation has been built up for these young boys, who would probably be making their 1st overseas trip or getting into a plane or visiting a distant place like Europe.

To this end, I know the Under 16 National Coach and the Team Manager have been working hard and planning carefully to take a a strong squad to Germany. Indeed the coach went out of the way to ensure that there was a teacher as an assistant coach in the team. The team manager being committed to the team, even choose to resign from the powerful MHF committees like the Wawasan Committee and the Team Management Committee (TMC) realising that conflict of interest may arise. These are the things these former hockey internationals have done, as they took up their national duties as coach and manager for the 1st time.

Obviously they must be disappointed that the Under 16 trip to Germany was cancelled in the 11th hour. These 2 brave lads have not expressed their views and are very guarded as they do not want to create any controversy. They must understand the feeling of the players but they do not want to add any aggravation, as they have a duty to perform. I still think the excuse of "swine fever" as a reason for cancellation is not consistent to hold much ground.

Surprisingly, as a makeshift measure a last minute tour was organised to Singapore. I do not believe this was done because Singapore is recognised as a hockey nation but more to mitigate the disappointment of the young lads from the cancelled tour to Germany. It would seem any tour even maybe to Medan would have sufficed but then it would be more expensive than Singapore and probably Medan may not have an astro turf field.

All in all some expectations were fulfilled and hopefully the saga of the cancelled tour to Germany would be forgotten. The more fundamental question is the potential damage this may have done and the burden that is being placed on the coach and the team manager to whip back the enthusiasm and interest among the players.

Why is the job of the coach and the manager for the Under 16 made so difficult by the lack of a thought process in decision making?

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Hockey gossip - "Prima Donnas among players"

The Internet encyclopedia, Wikipedia explains the term "prima donna" as an Italian term used to designate the leading female singer in an opera. Legendarily these "prima donnas" were often regarded as egotistical, unreasonable and irritable with a high opinion of themselves not shared by others.

With this as the backdrop, the question to ask is whether there is such "prima donnas" in the national team and how has this created the gossips of the team manager wanting to resign on 3 occasions.

The current national team is mainly inherited from the old regime and the then gossips seem to reflect the absences of proper structure and order. Therefore when the new regime came and there was a change of guards in the coaching team, the current coaches brought a number of basics back to the training methodology. The changes that came into force includes training commencing at 6 in the morning, fitness is now a key issue while smoking, alcohol consumption and late nights during training days have become a "no go" matter, rehabilitation of injured players are carefully monitored plus the development of comradeship among players by staying together as a team during centralised training. Gossips reflect that there are a few who cannot appreciate nor respect the changes and this included a colourful senior player.

The "test of wills" came into play when certain players had come for training after a late night outing smelling of alcohol. According to the gossips this was not the 1st time and the coaches had no choice but to enforce the rules. Stories indicate that the team manger wanted time to settle the matter and nothing came out of it. Sources also state that the coaches were put in a difficult situation as they were not implementing the rules they set and they were in a "loss face" scenario. Meanwhile, the senior player who was an involved party in the drinking and late night episodes had started a "back biting" campaign against the coaches in the presences of the other players. The story continues that the coaches "dropped" the player in a game and that made matters even worst.

Meantime, the Deputy President misled the TM when he enquired why the player was not playing. The Deputy President indicated that the senior player was injured and when the TM by chance checked out, the TM found out it was for discipline reasons. Why was the Deputy President working on a different frequency? Was it because he was unaware or doing a cover up? Still, why embark on such acts?

While this was going on certain parties who people believe are part of the "Melaka Mafia" were canvassing for the senior player to become a regular in the national squad as oppose to being a substitute. It shows the depth of various "tentacles" at work. Again the question: "Is this necessary?", as the coaches are the best people to know what is best for the team.

Gossips reflect that all these were being done to assists the team manager, for most of the players involved in discipline issues come from his club. The team manager is caught in a difficult position, as any decision at the national level may have repercussions at club level. This is what the talk is about and I am unable to confirm if that is the team manager's thinking. One thing is definite that the issues have not been fully resolved and even the punishments recommended by the coaches have been reduced by 50%. It reflects that the coaches have no power.

Stories coming out about the national team seem to further reflect that the team manager have had meetings with the players in the absences of the coaches and other team consultants. A very strange act, as there is now a feeling that cliques are developing and "players power" maybe emerging. This is where the "prime donnas" or those in making may be "bad mouthing" the coaches and creating an untenable position for the coaches. There is talk that announcing certain "Advisers" of which barring 1, the others do not have a success track record to take the post and maneuvering rightful information reaching the TM is the way to control what is going on. The question: "Why is all this being done?"

Time would give us the answer. On the meantime does MHF have the precious time to allow for all these bickering?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Hockey gossip - "Reasons to ponder for resignation"

When one is appointed to a position, whether paid or unpaid, the key issue is if that position creates a conflict that may come to haunt the party in the future. The gossip that is going around of the possible resignation of the team manager of the national team, may arise from this issue and the person concerned may be in a dilemma.

He is the manager of the most successful club in the Malaysian Hockey League (MHL) and literally has the bulk of the national team playing for him. He recruits players with top notch salaries and that itself becomes an attraction for the national players to turn out for his club. While the players are loyal to the club, it is also expected that the club has to be supportive of the players. This therefore creates a process of inter-dependability between the club players and the club manager.

Transforming this relationship at national level has its strength and weakness. It works extremely well if everything is the same as at "club" level i.e coaches, team consultants, players and owner. When this equation changes, the potential of a conflict can arise, the equilibrium would change and this would give rise to severe problems.

From the time the team manager was appointed by the Team Management Committee (TMC), there was already the issue of conflict because of the disequilibrium in the equation. It is strange how the TMC and the MHF Management did not see this. In fact MHF Management cannot be blamed as the TMC's action was unilateral in nature including without consultation with the TM. A very strange action by the TMC, and gossips indicate it was done with a purpose and in a expeditious fashion so as the appointments were not derailed. Indeed a number of people appointed by the TMC were already sitting in other Committees, thereby creating even greater conflicts and infringing ethical principles. I believe some have subsequently chosen to resign from some of the positions to avoid the problem.

Gossips emerging after Ipoh and Kuantan hockey tournaments, seem to indicate the issue of discipline of certain players and their conduct had probably provided the initial spark to what is happening now. Apparently, 2 players had come for the morning training sessions on a few occasions smelling of alcohol. The coaches who were working hard to instill discipline, recommended for a certain course of action but the team manager intervened and wanted to speak to the players first. Sources indicate that nothing took place and the matter became complicated as the 2 players were from the team manager's club. Subsequently a decision was reached by the coaches including suspending the players salaries, this was undermined by levying a smaller figure as the fine.

This effectively meant that discipline issues are dealt with based on which club the players play for in the MHL. This creates different set of rules for different players in the same national team.

What I cannot comprehend is why the coaches did not send the players to the National Sports Institute and do the necessary tests to confirm level of alcohol present in the players. Further one of those involved i.e a Senior player, is creating a "mutinous" scene in the presences of the other players, thereby giving the impression that the coaches have no powers. The matter becomes even more serious as the team manager has meetings with the whole team in the absences of the coaches and team consultants. Although there is no independent verification but stories emerging seem to indicate that the players have realised that there is something wrong and at times the coaches and team manager seem to be speaking different "languages". This therefore permits players to take advantage of situation, resulting in more interesting gossips.

There are more gossips but I feel it is not proper to dwell too much into them. What is important is that people in position of conflict or potential conflict must excuse themselves from the positions and ensure that there is only the coaches calling the shots. Whatever is done must be in support of the coaches but not to undermine them. If the coaches are not doing a good job then it is better that they are removed rather than being undermined.

There is no substitute to discipline and no compromise must reached. From the onset the players must know that and the only way is to enforce it properly. Here i believe the coaches are doing the right thing.

The TM must come to know this. Do not speak to people who constitute the 'Melaka Mafia" or incompetent office bearers. Get to the source and ask the people concerned to bravely speak their minds and heart. Failing which, hockey would not have changed from that of the previous regime. It means that we are just straddling along without making that fundamental changes for the betterment of Malaysian hockey.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Hockey gossip - "Threatening to resign"

From Ipoh, after the Sultan Azlan Shah Tournament to the aftermath of Asia Cup in Kuantan, it would seem there is consistent gossip of the Team Manager of the National Team wanting to resign. This so called "threatening" to resign seems like someone calling "bluff" in a poker game. Is there any truth to the whole issue?

The surprising aspect is, no one really knows the reasons except the aspect of wanting to resign. It seems from the corridors of Royal Selangor Club to MHF office to the designated office of a key NSC staff office, discussions are ongoing about the potential resignation and how best to ensure it does not happen. According to the gossip this is the 3rd time such an issue has been raise since he was appointed as the team manager hardly 6 to 7 months ago. Strangely, all those involved are avoiding addressing the issues confronting the problem but rather wanting to tighten with unofficial directives, so as the clique system can be sustained.

The past MHF regime then had what is referred to as the "Johor Mafia" and they paid the price of what they undertook when it came to the knowledge of the Affiliates and the hockey fraternity. Today, without the knowledge of the TM, apparently there is another "Mafia" in action and rumours term it as the "Melaka Mafia". Sources indicate that the group is made up 4 to 5 people and some of them are present at the MHF Management meetings and also with the Team Management Committee (TMC). It is rumoured that this group tends to meet regularly and recommend what is to be done and what is to be pursued. They have their networking and are able to pursue and ensure things can be made to happen. Their networking provides insights of what is happening in MHF and also NSC.

It would be wrong for me to say that such things do not take place anywhere else in the world. The point being if it is done for the betterment of Malaysian hockey, then the issues may not become glaring. This is where the issues become "clouded" for example in the nomination of the Advisers to the National coaches. The names were announced even without talking to the personalities including their terms of appointment. I wonder whether the national coaches were even consulted. Further, people are just picked based on likes and dislikes but not on proper vetting process of having the best. Time and time again this group executes this sort of style, as the TMC had done in appointing coaches and team managers for the various national teams.

In all honesty, some of what is being done now is repetitive of what was done by the previous regime. Therefore is there a change that was earnestly called by the Affiliates and the hockey fraternity. The TM is new to hockey and he may not realise some of this significant points.

So, if the national team manager wants to resign, he should be given the freedom to do so. Nobody is indispensable. If it was the coaches then i think we should take a 2nd look as they are the ones who are in contact with the players and invest most of the time with them. The team manager is a PR face for the team and really not involved in the "nuts and bolts" of the team from discipline to training to tactics and even selection. Sometimes people in this position can be interfering and disruptive and thereby creating greater problem then assistance.

Indeed if he wants to resign, lets not hold him back. There are a number of former stars in the likes of Ramakrishnan, Ow Soon Kooi, K Balasingam, M A Sambu, Maninderjit Singh (Mike), Ahmad Fadzil and many others who can also perform the job. Lets not worry too much about it unless people have vested interest like the "Melaka Mafia".

Sunday, May 24, 2009

TM needs to be "well informed" of what is happening in MHF.

There are many things taking place in MHF and some are kept away from the TM while others are made known at appropriate times only. Such things are being done for the benefit of a select group of people, who want to be the only source of information to the TM. A "sieving" process takes place and a "canopy" is created to provide the "darkness" and prevent the TM seeing deep down. This means that the truth of what is happening on the ground would never be known to the TM. Above the "canopy" there seem to be "bright" light, thereby giving a distinct impression that all is well. The question: Is all well in MHF?

There are gossips that issues such as discipline among players, interference of officials with the National teams, no development on " National Development" programme, Affiliates in the main have failed to develop local leagues and their own development programme, administration in shambles, lack of funds to pay creditors and claims, lack of information on progress of organisation of Junior World Cup and the list can continue, portraying that MHF is in a diabolical state.

Even simple matters like organising the Malaysian Hockey League (MHL) is also being messed up. Only now does the Competition Committee realise that in November 2009 is the World Cup Qualifiers and want to change the dates of MHL. Strange as FIH had given sufficient notice of the World Cup Qualifiers and yet when the Competition Committee got down to work, they conveniently overlooked it. This is a reflection of the highest level of incompetence. To cover their blatant mistake, they make it look as though the changes are done to accommodate the national team's preparation for the qualifiers. What a way to mislead the hockey fraternity.

All this possible because the TM is an extremely busy person and he trusts his "lieutenants" in MHF to do their basic jobs properly. You cannot expect the TM to get involved on every issue and bog his time with trivial matters. The irony of it is the trivial matters have "clouded" the bigger issues and as such due attention is also not given to them. It is a "compounded" effect that over time has "ballooned" into the level of incompetency and "politics of manipulation of information".

What has happened with the past regime in MHF is repeating itself now. This time the "players" are much smarter in style and carefully coordinate their action, giving the view that it comes from the top. At the same time, they give the "top" the impression all is well at the working level, thereby appeasing the "top". In the meantime they make their move subtly and get the things as they want it. The process is further "aided and abetted" by name dropping, signifying the level of influence they carry.

The TM wants to do a good job in hockey but I believe he is caught with "time warp"officials, who have their own personal agenda to fulfill. Whatever the senior coaches are endeavouring to achieve in the field is being continuously destroyed or undermined. It is not surprising why we ranked 16th and there is no reason why the slide would not continue. I think the TM must find other avenues to know the truth of what is going on in MHF and addressing it. Failing which we might as well bade "sayonara" to Malaysian hockey.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Is there a story, why the National Under 16 tour to Germany was cancelled?

For the last few months, the Under 16 boys were training as a preparation for the Hanover tournament in Germany. "All systems were go" and not a single person in the team had a clue that the trip would not materialise. On the 11th hour, the "bomb" was dropped i.e the tour was cancelled and the reason was put to the potential swine flu pandemic. All the days and months of work seem to have gone down the drain. To be fair, there is talk of having the team to tour Singapore or play a hastily arranged tournament in Malaysia.

If swine flu is the true reason then the sporting fraternity has to act consistently. Therefore it means that MHF must cancel or postpone the Junior World Cup in June 2009. This is being consistent, as FAM has done it in football. I believe that aspect is completely out of the "reach" of MHF, as was the completed Asia Cup in Kuantan. Equally, all sports gathering should be totally minimised in the best interest of our sportsmen and fans. Literally bring our sporting events to a halt.


So, what could be the reason for cancelling the Under 16 trip to Germany? I believe this is outside the ambit of MHF as they are totally dependent on NSC i.e the "sugar daddy" of MHF.
I believe that NSC is trimming or reallocating their budget and are using any prevailing reasons to justify the cancellation. So happens, the swine flu is the "flavoured" topic and most concerned issue, that it provides the right camouflage to NSC's intent. There is no doubt with the new Minister, there would be different priorities and probably this tour may not be part of the priority. I do not dispute it but it is essential that the truth be made known.

The difficulty is that MHF has become a "parasite" to NSC i.e totally depending on their funding. If that is pulled out, MHF literally becomes bankrupt. It is fundamental that MHF must work towards some form of financial independence and thereby having control on decision making. Unfortunately, this sort of thinking is far lacking in MHF, as most officials are there to work provided their expenses are reimbursed. Again i do not dispute that too but how many of them endeavour to solicit funds for MHF. Many want to be in the receiving end, not at the giving end.

This is the reflection of what MHF is and many revolutionary ideas have been floated but TM seem to lack the "will" to ensure they are implemented. He may have his rationale but i must warn the TM that time is running out , as Malaysian hockey may have suffered so badly that revitalising it maybe an impossible task. Despite being 4th in Asia Cup, we have slipped to our "worst" position i.e ranked 16th in the world.

Friday, May 22, 2009

MHF, are your choices of Advisers to the National Coaches sound?

The Deputy President of MHF announced that 4 former Malaysian hockey internationals, who have been coaches or team manager with various of the national teams have been appointed as Advisers to the Senior National coaches. The idea of having advisers are good provided there are clear cut terms of reference, covering defined areas. While I am not privy to those details, the personalities named are known people and their achievements are public knowledge.

Without having to "beat around the bush", with the exception of Stephen Van Huizen, Malaysia's most successful local coach in modern times , the other candidates do not portray a success profile to occupy the seats. They may talk a lot or become columnists in the dailies or so forth but what can they offer? When they had the responsibility they could not perform as coaches or managers. I have no doubt as players they were a class but then they are not judged by that status.

MHF in its usual self defeating maneuvers tends to screw matters up. There are a number of good people who could undertake the responsibility and without doubt Datuk R Yogeswaran would fit the position well. His wealth of experience and knowledge including a success profile cannot be matched by anyone in Malaysia now. Yet! MHF ignores such a person, thereby displaying utter petty and silly outlook in their decision making process. It is the lack of depth in MHF of not wanting the best that is what kills Malaysian hockey. A bunch of clueless people managing MHF is the "virus" that is causing the disease that is stifling the success of hockey.

While i am not a great advocate of Paul Lissek, he too carries with him sound knowledge and a worthy track record. Since he is already on the payroll, why not he also be brought into the exercise. Thinking outside the box, I believe Amarajit Singh, our world class international umpire must also be called up. His interaction with various teams while umpiring and the finer aspects of the rules could give a wider dimension of thinking to our national coaches.

There are many others but it essentially depends on the scope of what they should undertake and this must be decided first. Do you want the team to cover the training and tactical methodology or just the game analysis or have to separate teams for each of it? They must be the "sounding board" for the national coaches and thereby the coaches are able to refine their own outlook on various pressing issues troubling the national team's performance.

I sincerely hope that the TM tightens the reins of MHF and gets effective and knowledgeable people with good track records to be in the various positions or not Malaysian hockey will continue its slide. We are already ranked number 16 and could it get worse? I would think so if we get the wrong people in the various positions.

China, the surprise of the Asia Cup.

MHF set a target of reaching semi-finals in the Asia Cup and our boys got there quite easily. Target achieved but some where there was miscalculation, as a dreadful thing happened in the tournament. Everyone thought and expected South Korea, India, Pakistan and Malaysia or Japan as the semi-finalists. Unfortunately, India sunk to their lowest performance and ended up last in their Group and failed to qualify for the semis. This, notwithstanding the fact that they were Champions in the Sultan Azlan Shah tournament, just a month earlier.

What do I mean by miscalculation? The feeling was India should easily be the Champions of Asia Cup and the issue would be whether the runner-up would automatically qualify for the World Cup. This is because India is suppose to be the host and therefore they are already a "qualified" team. While that was being contemplated , not much attention was given to China. The reason being the Korean coach who was responsible for the team at the Being Olympics in 2008 is not with them and a local Chinese was in charge of the team. All this put together, provided the basis to underestimate China.

China did the "magic", drew with Pakistan and India and made it to the semis. This meant that India was squeezed out. South Korea defeated them in the semis and for the 3rd and 4th placing they played Malaysia. 5 minutes away from losing the game to Malaysia, the Chinese managed a draw in normal and extra time. On the penalty strokes they held the lead and finished 3rd.

Prior to the Asia Cup, China was ranked 16th, Malaysia 15th, Japan 12th, India 10th, Pakistan 8th and South Korea 12th. At the end of the Asia Cup, South Korea remains at 5th, Pakistan moves to 6th, India drops to 12th, China moves steadily forward to 13th, Japan slides to 14th and Malaysia moves down to 16th.

Quietly the Chinese got their act together and did what they came out to do. No fanfare, just result orientated. Obviously it puts the traditional hockey countries save South Korea to shame. Not a significant force in hockey in the past decades, China seem to be blossoming into a hockey nation and maybe like their badminton and diving stars, their hockey may follow suit as world leaders. It is probably a matter of time.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

High hopes for Malaysian hockey - " 1Malaysia, 1Heart".

An anonymous person has left a comment on my article, "Asia Cup - Good game Malaysia, pity we lost.". The text is as follows:


Malaysian team have proved they have the capabilities to be among the top 5 team in the world.
We draw with South Korea(1-1)ranked no 5 in the world,beat Japan (4-1)ranked No 11 in the world and from their performance against Pakistan although we lost 4-2 showed the game could have gone either way.

We have it to be among the best team in the World,what we need is continuity of the plan put in place and keeping abreast with the latest in the world of scientific and hockey.

1 MALAYSIAN 1 HEART must be emphasis everywhere from school to universities.

This can only happen when we don't judge a person from their race,religion,color,culture and believes,we judge by their characteristic.

The multi ethnic crowd that came to support our Malaysian hockey team shows we are moving on the right part to achieve 1 MALAYSIAN 1HEART.

The great Confucius once said "A journey of a thousand miles start with a single step".

TM of Pahang have taken the step to mould the Malaysian hockey team into a great team.

We must make this 1 MALAYSIAN 1 HEART a reality and from sports to economic,Malaysia will be a reckoned nation in the world.


As the eminent poet Richard Lovelace in prison wrote to Althea

Stone walls do not a prison make"
"Nor iron bars a cage"
Minds innocent and quite take
"Thats for an hermitage"



Friday, May 15, 2009

Asia Cup - Good game Malaysia, pity we lost.

At the Asia Cup hockey semi-finals yesterday, Malaysia went down 4-2 to Pakistan. The score does not do justice to Malaysia's performance but our players, coaches and team management can put their heads up in pride. The players gave their hearts out but the Pakistanis skills in dribbling and crosses caught some of our players a bit flat footed. This was the edge they had and they capitalised it well.

Our players played well except that they must avoid making mistakes in our 25yd. This is where we paid the price. Our boys held on to the waves of attacks and yet on break away we tend to give the ball away easily, thereby putting our defence on constant pressure. The other is that our players without the ball are not always on the move, creating and opening chances for the player with the ball. This would mean that the opposition can easily anticipate our moves. Further, while our strikers have the speed but they lack the skills in stick work to take on the opposing defence. Again the opposing defence can easily predict what our forwards would do with the ball. In that sense, the lack of high level skills took a toll on our performance.

Notwithstanding all these our boys still played a good game.Despite being a goal down in the 2nd half they were still looking for the equaliser and therefore opened up their own defence, which became vulnerable with pockets of "holes". This gave the Pakistanis the impetus to puncture our defence and sadly they were successful. The "never die" spirit still continued with our boys and we got our 2nd goal at the "death" of full time. Time was not on our side by then.

We must commend the players, the coaches and team management for their performance to date. A 3rd place in the Asia Cup would be a good finish for our boys. This means we must beat China and there is no reason why that is not possible. So long as we play the way we have done, i am sure victory is within our grasp.

Let it be "Malaysia Boleh" and "1Malaysia."

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A song for the late Affendi Stephens

I received an anonymous comment for my article "Rest in peace my friend Affendi Stephens", in the form of a special song for him.

REALITY - by Richard Sanderson

Met you by surprise
I didn't realize
That my life would change forever
Saw you standing there
I didn't know I'd care
There was something
special in the air

Dreams are my realitY
The only kind of real fantasy
Illusions are a common thing
I try to live in dreams
It seems as if it's meant to be

Dreams are my reality
A different kind of reality
I dream of loving in the night
And loving seems alright
Although it's only fantasy

If you do exist
Honey don't resist
Show me a new way of loving
Tell me that it's true
Show me what to do
I feel something special about you

Dreams are my reality
The only kind of reality
Maybe my foolishness is past
And maybe now at last
I'll see how the real thing can be

Dreams are my reality
A wond'rous world
where I like to be
I dream of holding you all night
And holding you seems right
Perhaps that's my reality

Met you by surprise
I didn't realize
That my life would change forever
Tell me that it's true
Feelings that are new
I feel something special about you

Dreams are my reality
A wond'rous worldwhere
I like to be
Illusions are a common thing
I try to live in dreams
Although it's only fantasy

Dreams are my reality
I like to dream of you close to me
I dream of loving in the night
And loving you seems right
Perhaps that's my reality.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

"Malaysian Hockey Performs" - In Asia Cup Semi Finals

Tai Beng Hai and Saiful, National Coach and his Assistant were respectively given the task to qualify as semi-finalist in the Asia Cup and they have done Malaysia proud by getting their boys to achieve it. Their journey started with a draw with 5th world ranked South Korea and then trashed Bangladesh and finally defeated the 11th ranked Japan. An excellent outing for a 15th ranked Malaysia.

On points we share the the top spot with South Korea but on goal difference they take the first place on the table. As such they play China in the semi-final and Malaysia has Pakistan. The Malaysian national team has performed well and they should be able to give Pakistan a good fight. There is nothing to stop them from winning the match, as they have proven it with the other teams. No doubt Pakistan has Sohail Abbas for their short corners but i am sure Beng Hai and Saiful would have done enough work to find the right tactics to "stop" him.

Malaysia is in an ideal position to perform beyond the expectation of the "prophets of dooms". There were many who felt the boys were not up to the mark. There were others who felt that Beng Hai and Saiful lack the depth to handle the national team. It would seem all these can be "chucked" down the drain as the national team has performed. The question is, can they stretch it that bit further to the finals and god willing win the Asia Cup. I see no reason why that is not possible. The key aspect is whether our boys have sufficient mental strength to handle the "big games".

Lets first congratulate the Malaysian team, the coaches and team management. Lets hope that they continue their good outing with wins and ensure our national anthem is played as winners of the Asia Cup and the national flag is hoisted simultaneously. Good Luck Malaysia.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Asia Cup seem to be poorly represented. Is it the "symptoms" of the decline of hockey in Asia?

Asian Hockey Federation (ASHF), the governing body for affiliates from the Asian continent, has approximately 30 affiliates. By virtue of being the governing body, the ASHF President gets the right to sit on the Board of International Hockey Federation (FIH). Effectively providing a voice for Asia. Is that enough?

Is Asian hockey a force to be reckoned with in world hockey? From a game point of view Asian countries have lost out and only South Korea is in the top 5 in the world ranking. If we take top 10, Pakistan and India joins the ranks. Effectively, it does not speak much of Asian hockey. Administratively, only 1 Asian was elected to the Executive Board of FIH and no Asians were given the honour and privilege to Chair any of the 12 Committees formed by FIH. If there is any "silver lining", it is probably that Asia is given the opportunity to organise the Junior and Senior World Cups in 2009 and 2010 respectively. Maybe Asians have become great Organiser's.

This state of affairs relating to Asian hockey is best manifested in the events leading to the Asia Cup. Originally, Dubai was the site for the Asia Cup but on the 11th hour they withdrew and Malaysia had to salvage the situation. One of the participating countries namely Oman withdrew and Sri Lanka came as a replacement. Of late Sri Lanka also pulled out and now only 7 teams are participating.

It is sad as there about 30 affiliates in ASHF and why only 23% of them are prepared to take part in the tournament. Some notable names like Singapore, Hong Kong, Macau, Iran, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Chinese Taipei are missing. Is it because the game of field hockey is a "dying game" in these countries and that is why they are unable to put up a team? If so, the scenario for Asian hockey is not looking good. If it is for financial reasons, then ASHF should have done something to ensure of their participation.

Poor participation in Asia Cup, a premier Asian tournament is a reflection that all is not well in Asian hockey. Something must be done and speedily. Failing which, hockey in Asia shall only be played by a few selected countries and even than by a few people. The game has become expensive as everything related to it is out of the reach of the bulk of the people in various of the developing and poor countries. Further hockey does help the poor player to get out of the bondage of poverty like football or cricket. So why be a good hockey player for the poor? As for the rich they have better games like tennis, golf and the likes to keep themselves in sporting spirit.

This is what hockey is fighting against and I think no one is seriously looking at addressing the issues. Therefore, with time hockey may find its demise as a popular game in Asia while other sports may fill the vacuum left by hockey. Maybe the poor participation in Asia Cup is the symptoms of what may happen to hockey in the future in Asia.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Has MCA left its affiliate NSCA in the lurch?

When I read the interview of Tunku Imran, after he was bestowed the Lifetime Achievement Award by International Cricket Council (ICC), where he stated the autonomous relationship of Malaysian Cricket Association (MCA) and its affiliates. He likened it to a similar relationship of the States that constitute to form the Federation of Malaysia. Essentially outlining the aspects self management without interference from parent body.

With this as the backdrop, I would want to revisit the Negri Sembilan Cricket Association (NSCA), relating to the "2 committees" that were disputing for the control of Association. The issue in the main was resolved by the Sports Commissioner's office but it took sometime for MCA to give their recognition. Notwithstanding this, the bank account of NSCA was frozen based on a complaint by the party that was not recognised. Apparently well over RM20.000 is still in the bank account

It is rumoured that initially MCA assisted NSCA with a small advance to get their act together.This was done after some painstaking moments of endeavouring to get their recognition. The complaint party had implicated Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) by stating to various parties that OCM was going to arbitrate on the matter, notwithstanding Sports Commissioner's verdict and finally MCA's recognition. Although in reality that was not an issue, strangely that aspect assisted in freezing the bank account.

The matter takes a further twist when Negri Sembilan's Majlis Sukan Negeri (MSN) refuses to recognise the already recognised NSCA office bearers. A very strange act by the State MSN and according to sources, there was an official communication on the matter with MCA. This literally "dropped the clanger" on NSCA, as the position the State MSN had taken, severely affected their participation in the MCA National League. Unable to access to funds forced NSCA to withdraw from the league at the 11th hour.

To NSCA's luck, after they withdrew from the national league, their Bank account was reinstated. The reason this was done, was because of the legal action that NSCA had pursued. Prior to the matter developing into a bigger issue, the bank seem to have relented. Still it is a bit too late as numerous parties had contributed to the killing of competitive cricket in the State.

Most of these matters were known to MCA and yet they seem to have taken a non interference position other than recognising NSCA. They could have assisted with the Bank and with the State MSN but by the time their sluggish nature gets going, other events would have surpassed the issues. Maybe it is the President's view on autonomy of Affiliates that is paramount on the NSCA issues. It is not about what is good for cricket, rather the intricacies relating to the relationship of parent body and affiliates that governs what should be done for cricket. Should it be the way?

Monday, May 4, 2009

MHF - TM keeps to his promise.

In December 2008, the newly elected President of MHF made a number of commitments at the 1st Hockey Seminar, to transform Malaysian hockey and MHF itself. As the months passed by, the TM as President seem to slowly get things moving.

He is reorganising the coffers of MHF with sponsorships and slowly they would get out of their inherited debts. He has got new jersey sponsorship for the national teams. For the Asia Cup he has roped in Air Asia. There is no doubts he is making waves.

One area he was concerned, was the absences of a MHF website and at the Seminar he proudly stated that something would be done soon. Indeed being a hockey nation, we seem over the years to have lost out on information technology in this area. It is very disturbing to see how our neighbouring country have got themselves organised with a good informative website. They may not perform well in the hockey pitch but at least administratively and on information flow, they seem to be well advanced.

So, last week when TM had reached an agreement with a party to get the domain of going, i think he did the most honourable act of putting Malaysian hockey into the age of informationl technology. The website is yet to be operational but i believe from the relevant parties the domain issues and other pertinent matters are being sorted. The TM has taken the step and it is a question of time when the website would be on stream. We must congratulate the TM in keeping to his promise.

Meantime i have to warn hockey fans that there are 2 other websites that carry some form of Malaysian hockey information. They may not be totally accurate or may not have been updated for sometime. They are and

MHF also entered into an MOU with with regards to internet rights to broadcast and provide live coverage to matches under MHF. These services are available as "paid services" to hockey fans and MHF shall benefit from it on a profit sharing basis. Obviously this is something new and rightfully as stated by the TM: "With time we shall iron out any issues".

All in all things seem to be moving well with the TM. Question is whether the others can keep pace and work as hard. This is where the TM has to look inwards and see how best to transform the internal organs of MHF. The 102 former hockey internationals had provided the "road map" and the TM was very excited of it at the Seminar. Would the the road map now be implemented?

Sunday, May 3, 2009

MHF - "Too many people want to be involved."

As a young boy I was taught the maxim i.e " Too many cooks spoilt the broth". Essentially stating in summary, let the rightful people do the work or the talking. In MHF. it would seem that there are a few who believe that they must be heard and get very "excited" to be quoted for in the papers.

Take the case of Jiwa Mohan being recalled to the national team. This news was made available to the press by the Deputy President. I wonder whether he was deputising for the President or speaking in the capacity of Chairman of the Team Management Committee or just as Deputy President. I also wonder if there was proper sanctioning policies and procedures for Jiwa Mohan's recall, which the Deputy President has exercised.

I ask this because only of late the Manager of the national team seem to confirm of Jiwa Mohan's inclusion. The coaches seem to maintain a "silent" mode, thereby leaving people puzzled with what is happening. I can understand why they are taking such a posture, probably as they cannot confirm the full fitness status of Jiwa Mohan. Rumours indicate that the league and even the team Jiwa Mohan plays for in Australia may not fall into the"high performance" category. Therefore his fitness may be a suspect and what is disappointing is that nobody in MHF want to follow a proper protocol before recalling Jiwa Mohan to the side. The least MHF should have done was to get the Western Australian Sports Institute to do the needful tests. I am sure through the good offices of National Sports Council (NSC) such arrangements could have been made. Maybe the people concerned are so focused that they cannot see anything else.

As stated in my previous article, I am supportive of his recall provided he is fit and can slot into the team easily. I still maintain that view but the relevant people seem to be "cagey" of Jiwa Mohan's fitness status. It is probably a unfit Jiwa Mohan is still better than the existing national players. If so, MHF is in a desperate position and this probably explains why news is being slowly leaked out.

Continuing on the issue of "too many cooks", it was strange to hear contridictory comments from the Secretary of MHF and the National Coach on the status of the pitch condition at Kuantan Hockey Stadium. A week ago the Secretary stated the repaired pitch is in good condition and is ready for the Asia Cup. A few days later the National Coach had his team there and they feel it is "bumpy". Mind you , the national players were training in that ground and therefore they have first hand experience. So, i wonder where the Secretary of MHF gets his facts !!!!! Unless of course the Secretary was in Kuantan and played at that ground. Still he cannot be right, as the national players think otherwise.

This is the sort of contradictory views that put MHF in bad light. Why is the Secretary commenting on pitch conditions. Even if wants to indulge in such areas, at least he must do some background work. Unless his statement is to keep certain parties happy by creating such "make believe" scenario.

All in all it is a nice way of reflecting the capabilities of people holding responsible position. If they are unable to handle their job well, how can Malaysian hockey be in world class status. Asia Cup would give us an insight.