It is confirmed that 2 European and 2 Oceanic countries are in the semi-finals of the Junior World Cup (JWC) 2009. Asian nations did not make the grade despite the event being held in the Asian continent. I presume Asian Hockey Federation (AHF) must be devastated with such an outcome.
In my article of 17th June 2009 in this blog titled: A call to FIH - "A need for grass hockey, to ensure hockey does not become an endangered game," i did state that FIH - the world body in hockey is a domination of European and Oceanic representatives. This is not only on the Executive Board but also at the various Committees. The Asian representation is "dotted" and they do not even have the opportunity to Chair a Committee. Therefore it is not surprising to see the same reflected in the results of the games too!
If there is "blameworthiness" to be apportioned, then the Asian countries have to take the brunt of it. They were the ones on the first place who surrendered their own advantage decades ago. If it was in the Colonial days, one could understand. The Colonial masters usually have a gun in one hand in a so called "negotiation". In hockey this was not the case, rather the Asian hockey administrators just followed the tide of change propagated by their European and Oceanic counterparts without appreciating the long term damage to Asian hockey and hockey as whole.
Arguments like all weather pitches, even & predictable bounce, speed, safety, etc etc etc were sufficient to entice the Asian countries to support in the classical wine and dine environment. Issues like costs, accessibility, affordability, change of rules and the "opportunity costs" that the developing countries or poor countries have to fore go were not part of the equation in the decision making process.
All the above in a nutshell permitted Asian countries to slowly lose their hold as "powers" of hockey, while the popularity of the game continued its erosion. Asian hockey is becoming history, a point proven by the results of JWC 2009. More so as these countries by default or omission dig their graves deeper to bury themselves, when they have the opportunity to do something.
Today, as the top people in hockey gather in Malaysia and Singapore for the JWC ie coaches, umpires, technical delegates, medical experts, bio-medicine & sports medicine scientists etc etc etc, one would have thought sufficient seminars, workshops, courses and round table discussions would have been organised in the "sidelines" of the JWC.
Obviously, the excuse would be time and resources that would create an handicap for such events. I believe these are mortal excuses. If FIH, AHF, MHF & SHF had the "will" and "vision", they could have generated more Asians including their respective nationalities with FIH coaching certificates and/or international class umpires or update themselves with innovation in sports science and/or information technology in the game. The opportunity existed prior to the commencement of JWC or during rest days or in the morning of game days. Some how Asia is left behind and probably a census may proof this point.
Take Malaysia, we have only 4 FIH Level 1 coaches. None at all in "Master Coach" level. The same can be stated of our umpires too. We could just count them by our 5 fingers. I wonder what would Singapore have? Yet we did not grab the opportunity because the Chairman of the Coaching Committee or Umpires Board or other respective committees are in their "hibernation" stage or undergoing severe "mental blockade". When the opportunity appears we seem to allow it to slip away. I also wonder why the same also happens with FIH and AHF.
Therefore, how can one uplift Asian hockey. They themselves are making matters worst while AHF and FIH seem only to be providing "lip service". There is no doubt things are going to get worst for Asian hockey and the term "excellence" would not be in the vocabulary of Asian hockey in time to come. Like the Bengal Tigers and the Asian rhinos, hockey is set to become an "endangered" game in Asia. Like all the great Asian empires, who could not sustain their dominance, it seems hockey is also no different. Therefore future Asian children would only come to know of hockey through history lessons, as we are now doing on the Asian empires. Probably, we have to live on our past glories.