Sunday, July 5, 2009

A viewpoint from a seasoned foreign hockey expert on Malaysian & Asian hockey.

Hockey Asia was kind enough to pen me a note which i am permitted to reproduce. It is interesting for it provides an "outsider's" view of certain modus operandi of MHF and AHF.

They have some good ideas that would have helped Malaysian and Asian hockey but they had to face the mammoth task of interacting with people having antiquated outlooks. This unfortunately is a common phenomenon and is best summed up by a Polish philosopher that: "introducing the new is not a real problem but it is getting rid of the old that makes things difficult".

This probably explains Hockey Asia's "misadventure" in Malaysia & to a certain extend in Asia.

Below is the full text of the note:

"Dear Gandhi,

Thank you for your kind words, actually we were surprised to get this attention but we are happy with it. I have read your blogs since we are in Malaysia and although I had many times a different opinion it is good to have a voice in sport that is for sure.

Gives me the chance to say that Hockey Asia had a different approach then being blogger and website developer. Our ideas were to have Live TV and use the income as financer, a banker for hockey projects. News is now our main item at the website of Hockey Asia.

I must correct you for the MHF website, this one is up and running only they never mentioned Hockey Asia as partner and the only time they made some changes was after the first match of Malaysian Juniors.

One of our projects was a good education program and bringing top-coaches to Malaysia to get better results. Ideas are good but we were naïve thinking that this was where Malaysia was waiting for. Coaches, trainers and players know it all so much better than we do. The fact that nothing has happened for the last 35 years is just a minor detail.

Also we were naïve thinking that money from our side would make a difference. MHF gets millions and millions out of Government money so why bother about “foreign” donations. Besides my ideas are totally 180 degrees different from MHF. We strongly believe in hockey clubs with paying members, strong long lasting leagues, and a good grass root program as the way to move forwards in Malaysia and Asia.

A real professional league like PHL in India but for a much more longer period, say sponsored by 10 companies and with a lot of foreign players (Europe), commercially well presented would make a tremendous difference. But once again this isn’t the strategy of MHF. I believe if Holland would made the same strategy decisions with putting the national team first and with only centralized training sessions and without a professional league and no hockey clubs investments they would never be no. 1 in the world for the women section and at top 4 in men section.

I strongly believe, with me, Harendra Singh (India), Jose Brasa (India), Siegfried Aikman (Japan) and Wouter Tazelaar (Pakistan) in an Asian Hockey League where top 6 -8 countries play a national league every 2-3 weeks. This for minimum 5 months. The World Volleyball league started years ago with this set up and it became very successful. From officials of AHF we could hear only laughs about it and remarks as: ‘ridiculous idea’.We feel this as a missing link in Asia and if this doesn’t change anything will.

You’re right about website technologies MHF and AHF is lacking and both wanted to do it their way, we have offered our services and at that time we would done it for free. Things were probably not meant to be that way.I feel that the AHF is really more of a Malaysian promotion than an Asian promotion, it is all about Malaysia. This could be done so much better.

As you probably know I was hockey coach for a very long time (over 20 years) in Holland on a good level and with that expertise I think I can judge what I have seen in Malaysia so far. For me based on many videos of last year Sultan Azlan Shah tournament 2008 and watching this year SAZ 2009 and Asia Cup 2009 the national team didn’t improve at all, in fact I was more impressed by Sarjit Singh as coach. But this is my personal opinion.

Based on what I have seen Malaysia is far away from a professional level as I have experienced in Europe. I offered a top-coach from Holland doing video-analysis during Asia Cup, he would evidently do it for free if MHF would have contacted him but also this idea had no listeners, probably as the national coach would feel attacked.

We don’t blame anyone at MHF but we feel that when you get so much out of the Government pocket things could run much more professional, like Singapore Hockey Association used the event management of ESPN for World Cup Juniors.

Let’s be honest our project failed because of lack of professionalism at MHF. But it is our fault that we didn’t take our own actions instead of relying on the organization in Malaysia.We still have a few options to consider, one is to start hockey club with Dutch model with a hockey academy here in Malaysia, but changes to success is minor, we realize this. The next weeks this must be clear.

Thank you and when we are back in Holland we will think with a lot of positive feelings of our “naïve” business adventure in Malaysia.

Met vriendelijke groeten/Kind Regards"

Jaap Suyk
Kuala Lumpur - Malaysia

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