The President of MHF has more or less determined the fate of the coaches of the senior national team by providing an ultimatum. The finale for them would be the 2010 World Cup qualifier, to be held in November 2009. If Malaysia qualifies, the coaches may be retained but if they fare badly it is "sayonara".
The TM has taken an unusual position on the matter especially as the 2 coaches had fulfilled their original target i e being in the top 4 at the Asia Cup. Indeed they were even one better by being runners up in the Sultan Azlan Shah tournament. Rightfully they had delivered their initial deliverable and therefore MHF should have confirmed them to a permanent arrangement. Fortunately or unfortunately this did not happen and the national team's disastrous performance at Dublin's Champion Challenge II and their lacklustre tour to Australia & New Zealand has not helped the coaches.
The question is: "How do you expect the coaches to perform"? From the onset the coaches had to face disciplinary issues with players from heavy alcohol consumption to late nights or wee hours partying to mutiny against the coaches. Added to this are the "clandestine" meetings by the national team manager with the players in the absence of the coaches. Part of this also lies with the special relationship most of the players have with the manager, relating to club hockey where he is their paymaster. This has created a delicate situation whereby the coaches had to always walk on a "tight rope" to maintain the balance, without having to create a chaotic scenario.
A further twist comes into the equation, where sources indicate that the Deputy President and a senior NSC official requested that any comments or written submission by the coaches must be directed only through the team manager. Sources highlight that such a position was not the decision of the MHF Management Committee nor the Team Management Committee. So why all the big fuss by these 2 people? Was there a conspiracy to vet, censor and silent the views of the coaches?
It would seem that the coaches had their "hands tied". They did not have the freedom to properly undertake their task without fear or favour. Sources indicate that the coaches had produced comprehensive reports of the team and other relevant issues but nobody in MHF spent the time reading or discussing matters with the coach. The coaches became lonely and found that there was no one who was prepared to listen to them. What mattered to everyone was only the results i e a Machiavellian approach - "the end justifies the means".
As pressure is exerted on the coaches, MHF has to realise the fundamentals of the game relates to the players. The coach is there to guide the team with tactics, assist with game fitness, game temperament and most of all to motivate them. All these is only possible if the players have the passion to don the national colours both as a patriotic and national duty, while earning their salaries.
We have to move away from the "denial" state and accept the fact that the current crop of players cannot sustain our position in the international arena. Therefore the idea of 2010 World Cup qualifier must be seen from a different perspective. We are paying the price for the lack of developing talents over the past few years. It has finally caught up with us and sadly we are doing nothing to rectify the situation.
We have not embedded the principles of excellence and therefore everything we produce tend to be half baked or half bred sportsmen. We turn them overnight into "superstars" and this gets to their heads and they think they are indispensable. They start pulling the strings and officials fall "head over heels" crying for their services. They believe that nothing can touch them for all their ill discipline acts. The matter gets compounded with bias sentiments and favouritism permitting the aspect of meritocracy to just become a figment of imagination of the officials. All these add in making lesser quality players to think they are great "stars".
Reality hits them when they flop with international teams but by then the damage is done to Malaysian hockey. While some may recognise the truth, the players still do not make amends as they continue to be pampered by the officials and guaranteed their salary as the national team. On top of this most of these players get another handsome salary from the club and therefore there is no real hunger to perform.
End of the day with this backdrop: "Should the coaches be the fall guys"? Maybe it is the prevailing system in MHF that is failing to produce the players for the senior national coaches to work upon. Great philosophers had stated: "Look inside, not outside". Maybe that is the soul searching MHF has to undertake, for even if they had the world's best coaches, with the current players we cannot produce the results. This is probably the reason why we are unable to get any foreign coach for the Malaysian team, as they do not want to dent their own reputation.
The 102 Group had recommended to forget the World Cup qualifiers as a target. They felt it was not realistic. They recommended developing a team for the 2012 Olympics and its qualifiers. Again nobody in MHF wants to listen. They just waste the resources on lost causes rather than investing for the future. To date MHF does not have a clue what to do for 2012. Why? There is no planning strategy which would have encompassed a master plan and the action strategy to achieve the targets.
Until MHF reorganises itself with the right people undertaking the appropriate strategy and actions, we might as well accept that Malaysia appearing in the World Cup or Olympics in the future shall only remain a dream. Nothing more than that. Believe it !!!!!