MHF is at its lowest. After Champions Challenge II, we must accept that we shall move "backwards" from our current ranking of 15th to probably 17th or 18th. This is probably the first time we have got to this ranking and in a way it is historic. I am sure this is something that MHF would not have wanted.
When the last regime in MHF was unable to deliver, the TM was roped in to help to change the fortunes of MHF. TM in his usual style refused to bring in a "team" to assists him. TM probably did not want to be seen to give credence to any form of "clique" system to exists. He allowed the Affiliates to decide who should be elected without throwing support to any candidates. Save for the President and 1 Vice President, the rest were essentially from the old regime.
As i had repeated many times in my articles, "leopards cannot change their spots" and therefore keeping the majority of the old team intact, is the problem of MHF and TM. As in the past they do not have a clue of how to manage MHF. They essentially seem to be "bench warmers", whose interest seems to be to rub shoulders with VVIPs and VIPs plus enjoy the trips that come with the teams.
Equally, there are others in the hierarchy of MHF who have the intellectual ability but strangely this aspect is not seen to be displayed. Maybe they are there to lend a name or give creditability to MHF. Other than that it calls into question, why do they hold positions?
Very often when the national teams fail to perform or are unable to achieve their target, the Coaches and the players get the brunt of the onslaught from critics. What we forget is that the Coaches and players are there because the Officials are the ones who selected them. Somehow these Officials remain "blameless" and the axe tends to fall on the Coaches. What a paradox!
When we talk of Coaches, the thing that comes to mind is whether we have appropriately qualified coaches with the necessary success profile. If a club is swarmed with national players, even a rookie coach can deliver results. This unfortunately has clouded the decision making process of our officials.
The trouble here is that the Coaching Committee lacks the vision to produce highly qualified FIH coaches to work with the national teams. These coaches should also be sent to spend time with some of the good coaches with various premier clubs or national teams in Europe and/or Australia. This would broaden their horizon and provide a better outlook to their coaching task.
We had this opportunity with Paul Lissek being in this country over a period of 15 years. Ask ourselves how many coaches of FIH accreditation did we produce? How many coaches did we send on secondment for a few months? These acts of omission is the prize we are paying for on the long run ie 1975 - 4th to 2009 - 17th or 18th. Can you see how fast we have gone "backwards".
The other failure with the Coaching Committee was the failure in developing the right sort of coaches for helping in the development process of hockey. Today, it would seem anyone with a paper from the Coaching Committee could become a coach. This is irrespective of whether such a person has the passion or the knack to handle young kids. Many seek such qualifications because as teachers they get allowances to enhance their earnings.
The issue seems the same too with Development. If the Coaches do not have good talents to work within the high performance teams, then it must be the failure in the development process to provide such materials. Just take a look at what plans there are in place to be implemented by the current regime. Honestly after 8 months, nothing seems to have touched the ground.
Taking the large slice of the blame must be the Affiliates. Most of the Affiliates barring 2 or 3, do not have their own State Leagues. Even if they do have one, the participants do not constitute a serious outlook, rather they see it more as a recreational activity. Further the States also do not have their own Development programmes. In fact a great majority of the Affiliates exists in name and really have nothing much "hockey wise", yet they constitute MHF.
In view of such colossal failure on the ground, there is no "root" for "grass" to grow. Therefore "grassroot" development is just not there. Over the years as Affiliates failed to provide the "grassroots" for the hockey talents, MHF slotted in to take over the vacuum. Loaded with funds from NSC, through various programmes such as "Tunas Cemerlang", "Sukan Teras" and others, the nationwide development started. As fast as it got started, the programmes also went "cold" fast enough.
NSC & MHF intervention provided the right excuse for the Affiliates to forget their primary role ie to promote hockey at grassroots. Affiliates have failed while at national level the cumbersome process of undertaking development at nationwide brought it to a grinding halt. This was a "double whack" to kill development and as such talents which were part of the "supply chain" to the national teams have been derailed. A prize that Malaysia is paying heavily for at international hockey.
All these are a reflection of the way MHF is set up. Since hockey was introduced and MHF's existence, we have relied on the State Associations as Affiliates. This was a "time in memorial" decision simply because State Associations were the "kingpins" of hockey. All tournaments on nationwide basis whether schools, government services or police or Razak Cup were inter state. The States were then the "vehicle" for the promotion and growth of hockey. This effectively meant that the States had a stranglehold on MHF, which was rightfully justifiable.
The coming of the Malaysian Hockey League (MHL) provided the catalysts to strangle the influence of States in the game. Banks, Armed Forces, Companies
Municipalities and State Foundations decided to be the main players. The MHL became the main tournament and in a way devalued the other tournament which was inter state basis. Lack of foresight, the leadership in MHF did not incorporate all the "new players" as Affiliates of MHF. The leadership hung on to the old set up in modern times.
The States felt that the only power they had was to determine who gets into MHF. They realised this is the only thing left for them and it is the most powerful tool which they were not prepared to dilute. Today's MHF in the main represents a dichotomy ie on the game it is the MHL teams while determining MHF's future it is the States. What a paradox, the active have no say but the inactive or less active can determine what happens.
There has been papers after papers stating what should be done including by the "102 former hockey internationals". Unfortunately, there is no "will" in MHF to implement its recommendations despite an early agreement to do so. If nothing is done Malaysian hockey's journey would be all about "walking backwards". For the moment we are doing it extremely well !!!