Monday, September 14, 2009

Changes required in hockey or not MHF may itself become a "MUSEUM".

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.


Anonymous said...

Dear Gandhi,

If we look at the current situation, most of our players not so excellent in their study. Only a few really do and normally no longer in hockey as got other commitment. Therefore, most of them really hope for the job / salary / allowance from their club/national duty as they have to survive their life. If we look on the positive side, it really good as it helps current hockey players a lot. But in the negative side, we can see they are not professional enough which is they mentally quite 'lazy' to give extra and sitting comfortly in the borderline zone. Currently, most of the players really chase money and make their passion become lesser and lesser. Not even the players, we can see all the mhf affliates and coaches also being pampered by easy money. They have no KPIs! Thanks god we still have the power of reporter / press to counter check and give pressure on what they do. Most of them not so interested to work hard for the hockey sake even they are paid to do so! But most of them work 'very very very hard politically' just to retains their position and so on their extra pocket money. That's why we can see 'no right man in the right position' in MHF so far. It just 'Like father, like son'!

Roland Oltmans said...

My opinion, MHF need to appoint competent coach asap as an instant measure. Sorry to say that as at the current situation, 'top foreign coach' really required to stabilize the situation. The chronism culture remains the same with the changes of local national coach after coach. Most of all current players not playing hard for hockey passionly, but work hard only to retain their national player status politically. But with the existing of foreign coach, they have to neutrally show and give their best. This neutrally and passionly effort will bring our Malaysian Hockey back on path. 'Top foreign coach' will show credibility and only select the best players he want. I think, MHF can set a team of asst. coach among all the international local coaches we have to assist the said top foreign coach and try to learn more coaching management, method, technology, etc. time after time. We got a lot of international local coaches. But we still lack coahes with the latest knowledge so far....