Hockey players retire maybe because of age or injury or in disgust when they are dropped or disciplined or for other reasons best known to them. While that is an issue especially if one can still significantly contribute to the team, on the other hand a player who has passed his best still wants to remain in the team. The issue attracts its fair share of debate as many vested parties seem to canvas for support to ensure the player is retained. This obviously creates some problems with the coaches as the player concerned is not in their game plan including for various other issues too. A dilemma that seem to be troubling Malaysian hockey today.
Fundamental is that we must have players who have the passion to play and don national colours. Much too often players on achieving national status are being guaranteed of fixed salaries and allowances, thereby losing their hunger to perform. Of course there are exceptions but in the main it is otherwise. Whether a player achieves 50 caps or 100 caps or 150 caps, they are assured of their salaries, allowances and accommodation. Therefore, what is there to be worried unless the player is a "borderline" status national player.
To top all of these the national players also draw salaries from their clubs. Most endeavour to get paid for the year although the Malaysian Hockey League (MHL) is probably for only 2 months. On the higher scale the players can get around RM$3000 per month and on the average between RM$1500 to RM$2500 per month. On top of it they do get their training allowance too.
A senior national player would earn around RM$5000 to RM$5500 per month if his national and club salaries are combined. This earnings would be higher if the allowances are also included. This is an attractive package but it must be recognised that to be a senior player one has to go through the time span and earn a sizable number of caps. Added to this it must be understood that a national player would probably serve the national team at the higher end about 15 years but on the average 12 years. It is imperative that the player carefully manages his monies to cater for the day he "hangs up" his stick.
Indeed, some of these players play in foreign countries as the respective leagues pay good monies. Countries like Germany, Holland, New Zealand, Australia, England, France and Singapore are good hunting grounds to earn the rewards. What is important is that these players need the clearance of the national body before they embark on their journey
Essentially the major paradigm shift between yesteryears players and today's players, is the issue of employment and earnings. Previously most of them were employed and received their salaries from their employers namely then as LLN, PKNS, Police, Armed Forces, RRI and so forth. They are given paid leave for periodic centralised training and are reimbursed transport claims plus given dormitory accommodation. The yesteryear's national players had to pay part of the expenses for various overseas tours or tournaments. Further, in most instance they played for their employers in the local state leagues and as such there was no "side income".
The paradox on all these is that yesterdays players had the passion and the mental courage to take on the world's bests. Today's players have all the things going for them, yet their performance does not reflect the luxuries they are showered. The question is why such a dilemma? The reason may rest with the approach of MHF and NSC ie in "over pampering" the players. They have not created a "performance" related remuneration package from training to game play to recovery from injury. If this is done, it keeps the players "on their toes" and permits them to start adopting to the various stress levels which becomes a mental strength training.
The issue is both NSC and MHF wants to make life easier and simpler for players, so as they can concentrate on the game. This somehow has backfired. Indeed if any being full-time players have given more free time and this itself encourages indulgences to the various vices. Time and time again the issues have surface but neither NSC nor MHF have chosen to address it. Like many things, it is all swept under the carpet with the hope things would sort itself.
Sadly, it has not worked that way. Time and time again NSC and MHF have to be reminded that hockey cannot go on as it as being done year after year. Things must change as everything else has changed or is changing. NSC and MHF cannot remain stagnant while the hockey environment changes. It has to start from NSC and MHF from the officers to the Affiliates to the Master Plan based on Strategic Planning ( if they have one) to the spirit of excellence which has to be embedded with the coaches, who in turn must indoctrinate it to the players of the present and future.
For all these to be done. MHF has to have the right people in the right positions. This can only be done if the "doors" of MHF are open beyond the current "status quo". This strangely, MHF is frighten to undertake for probably they do not want to upset the Affiliates, who tend to move if any at "bullock cart" pace. Indeed the "bullock cart" is so antiquated that it is a museum piece and if MHF does not change, it shall itself become a MUSEUM.