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.

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