I am writing this article not to take "pot shots" at any institution or parties but rather as a means of highlighting matters with the sole intention that sports in Malaysia can flourish with the right people built on a fair system of check and balance. The principal idea is to ensure that the Malaysian flag is proudly hoisted victoriously in various sporting arenas round the world, displaying what a great nation of sports we are.
As for hockey, in the 50s and 60s, during the days of the late Tun Abdul Razak at the helm of MHF, the players and the sports administrators did not have the luxuries that are bestowed to the current generation. Those days they had to find their own funds ie the NSA and the players ,to go on overseas tournaments. They were not paid a salary to be national players rather had to ride on a job they held to survive. This meant they had to balance between work, house, social life and hockey. This probably gave the players of yesterday the mental strength to take on severe challenges in the field in view of continuous pressure they had to surmount in their daily life.
What was interesting is that many survived including receiving their promotions in their jobs and above all performing excellently in the field by ensuring Malaysia was a formidable force in world hockey. The paradox to all these is that they did not have the luxury of a NSC then and the sheer agony plus preoccupation of trying to balance every aspect of their life, gave them the determination to succeed. Succeed they did and looking at the Malaysian hockey stars of yesterday, i can only salute and speak proudly of them for what they have achieved despite the lack of all the current luxuries.To complement the players were dedicated sports administrators who continuously stretched their hands with begging bowls to help the sports. Many even went to the extent of using their own resources to keep things moving. These were the UNSUNG HEROES of Malaysian hockey.
Fast tracking to present day and the presence of NSC and their generosity, it would seem hockey seems to accrue a number of benefits. Today NSC pays for the following:
- Coaches and Assistant Coaches of the various national teams.
- General Manager of MHF
- Certain staffs of MHF
- Allowances for certain officials
- Development costs like Sukan Teras
Added to all these they top it with the following:
- Video expertise
- Accommodation for players
This is further supplemented with:
- Gym coach
- Cooks for vital tournaments
- Assistance for seminars related to coaches
This does not end the assistance programme as NSC also pays for the following too:
- Overseas tours ie "warm up" or test matches.
- Overseas tournaments.
Finally it is known that international tournaments organised locally is also subsidised by NSC.
In a nutshell, NSC has become the major "stakeholder" of Malaysian hockey as they are still investing in the game. Many in NSC past and present officers have a strong passion to see that Malaysia succeeds internationally. The level of their commitment goes further as NSC officers attend MHF Management Meeting, Council Meeting, Team Management Committee and the Consultative Committee.
This is a reflection of the level of NSC's commitment to ensure hockey succeeds. Nobody can deny the significant role NSC has played in Malaysian hockey and how they have brought a better quality of life to players, officials and fans.
Unfortunately all the good deeds of NSC has created a scenario where players and sports administrators have taken matters for granted. While life has become easier and simpler by what NSC is undertaking, rather than focusing on achieving targets in the field, most of the players and sports administrators have become lazy. They have now taken an outlook as "day follows night and night follows day", whatever that does or does not happen NSC is there to salvage the situation. An example is best seen in the bidding and organising of the Junior World Cup 2009.
The generosity of NSC seems to indicate that they have a 'bottomless pit". The resources they have put into hockey and the "returns" in terms of results particularly the last 6 years, would give the impression that they are a "bad" investor. Malaysia has performed badly ie failure to qualify for 2 Olympics, 1 World Cup, disastrous Asian Games placing and lack of improvement at Junior level , highlights the malaise in hockey.
A classic example is the existence of a German coach who had served as a coach or consultant for a cumulative period of nearly 13 years with the Malaysian team. Initially he had produced results with the national team but as the years went by he did not develop the next generation of talents Further his style has put Malaysian hockey "back" by a few years. Yet! NSC is so taken by him that MHF just follow suit. Part of our problem is MHF leaves it to NSC while NSC leaves it to MHF , a net result nobody provides the "check or balance". Each believing that the other would undertake the needful action. This permitted things to slide, which is representative of today's decline, the manifestation of cumulative years of unsupervised and unaccountable actions. In short, there was no Master Plan and if there was one it probably had unrealistic targets, which nobody was responsible for measuring.
NSC's actions are meant well except they have made life that much easier that players and administrators just curled the other way and have become lazier. Whether players perform or not they are guaranteed their salary and allowances. Officials know that so long NSC remains committed to hockey, they have nothing much to do. In fact NSC does most of the work for them and this permits them to just warm their chairs and spent time politicking. The relationship between NSC and MHF is so intertwined that at any one time it is difficult to know the role of one another. It makes it look like NSC is MHF and in a way MHF is part of NSC. Once these distinct lines get confused, everything becomes "boleh lah" and of "kawan kawan" attitude. The "check and balance" system collapses and ultimately the standard of hockey does too.
This is where NSC has to review their position and retain a high degree of independence and professionalism from MHF, to ensure that the resources they have invested provides the targeted returns. NSC should not provide unlimited funds for players, coaches, tours and MHF itself. They have to adopt "a carrot and stick" approach, which must be based on strategy plans driven by performance targets. This should work with the various national teams right down to developing talents.
NSC has to change its approach drastically while MHF has to re-engineer itself and bring in the right people for the right position. If these do not happen, we might as well just enjoy the "history" of our past success in Malaysian hockey. That is probably the best we can hope for in hockey.