2 national players coming for training in the morning smelling of alcohol after a late nite and 3 others who returned "slush" with alcohol to their NSC accommodation in the wee hours of the morning seem to represent a problem that has confronted the national teams from the Poland days in 2004 to the Junior team fiasco there.
The then team manager resigned after the incident and today is involved in MHF, including in the proposed panel to advice the current national coach. The then coach went on to become the national chief coach and unceremoniously had to vacate his position because of the pending changes that was realised in the BGM of MHF in November 2008.
5 years later we are still facing the problem of excessive drinking among players and late nites particularly on training days. Has it become such a problem that it is uncontrollable? Or is it only related to a few and the matter is being blown out of proportion? Whatever it maybe, the point is the discipline action that followed after the Poland episode must have not made an impact on the players or future generation of players. The punishment may not have created a deterrent measure and therefore the excessive alcohol drinking and partying habits just continue to prevail.
In a way it is sad that the young lads are not allowed to enjoy their life. If they do not drink and party at this age, they may miss a large part of their youth life and this is not going to return. The easy money and the glamour that comes their way is tempting and resisting it requires great courage. These lads are not "superhuman beings" and therefore some of them would fall to the temptation.
In all honesty I do not think that former hockey internationals were "angels". They too would have indulged but the point is they would have taken a balanced approach. They would not have gone over board with excessive drinking and late nites or they would have confined such indulgent to non training days or on their "leave" days.
An example is the 1968 Mexico Olympics incident with the national hockey team. Some form of news blackout is maintained and the whole truth of what happened has never surface. The rumour was it involved booze and women. This was the Malaysian squad and in the words of the then Germany's national coach, it was a squad who would be a sure semi-finalist in the Olympics. The team was groomed and nurtured painstakingly by the late legendary Datuk Dr Aziz Durairatnam. What prevailed outside the field contributed to Malaysia being placed 11th or 12th at the Mexico Olympics.
The fallout of the Mexico Olympic episode saw the end of Datuk Dr Aziz Durairatnam's involvement in hockey and substantial members of the team retired or never found a place in the national team bar 2 or 3. That was the price Malaysian hockey had to pay but it did not stop Malaysia from going to the 1972 Olympics and emerging 4th in the 1975 World Cup.
The late Tun Abdul Razak as President of MHF then knew what had to be done. There was no compromise to the lack of discipline in the players and the disciplinary actions had to come swift. Even the team manager, the late Datuk Dr Aziz Durairatnam took it upon himself to quit, which was the only right thing to do.
Today on the incident of the 1st 2 players, MHF was procrastinating over it for sometime and when an action followed it effectively was an "ant bite". Now we have the incident of the 3 players and again everyone seem to be "mentally constipated" to pursue the disciplinary action. Indeed the common aspect of all these 5 players is that they play for the same team in the Malaysian Hockey League (MHL) and have the same manager as the national team. What a coincidence!
Maybe MHF does not have the "stomach" to undertake severe disciplinary actions. They allowed the match fixing allegation slip, they went hot and cold on the 2 players and now on the 3 with all the evidence they seem to be frighten to act. The feeling is they do not have the players and these players are indispensable to the team. So why upset them? The most that can happen is there could be "repeat performances" of their excessive drinking and late nites but at least there is still a team. These "prima donnas" like the lead soprano in an opera, are much needed for Malaysia hockey. So why fuss over it? Maybe with time all these could be forgotten or just accepted as "fait accompli"