Malaysian hockey had been quite lucky because NSC came as a saviour with their programmes like "Sukan Teras", "Tunas Cemerlang" and the Sport Schools. If we look at the young generation of players especially in the Project 2013, you can see why i state NSC had been and will continue to be the saviour of Malaysian hockey. Whether it was intended or otherwise, the facts of the matter speaks for itself.
Now lets come to the fundamental issue of what do we mean by the term "Development"? Is it to popularise the game at grassroot such that we have sufficient numbers that permit a good reservoir of players, where quality talents can be extracted to become the first part of the series in the "supply chain" to furnish the States and the high performance national teams.?
If that is so, therefore it is not creating the national team that is the immediate priority but rather the pool of players from the grassroots. However, "grass" can only grow if there are "roots", at least that was what i remembered from my Science lessons. The question then is: Where is the "roots"? Of course they must be planted. It then begs the next question: By whom? This i presume becomes the Vision, strategy and action plan of the Development Committee.
If the preceding paragraph has its basis, then can the current Development Committee after 1 year of mulling over the development issues, be prepared to state that they have got the "modus operandi" under going for "root" planting for grassroot hockey? I ask this question because we can debate "till the cows come home", but the fact remains that the "roots" have not been planted on the ground and the only "planting" if any that has been done, is at the Development Committee itself.
Obviously there is an argument that the Development Committee had submitted 3 plans. The first in early 2009 but it seem to be riding on TNB's Project 2013 programme, which TNB had presented to the previous administration. The 2nd plan was submitted in mid 2009 but seem to be involved with high performance teams rather than planting the "roots". Again the 2nd plan like the 1st had an inherent flaw because the Development programmes were not discussed with the Affiliates, which would have infringed the MHF constitution.
With the coming of the MHF General Manager, apparently the matter became an "eye opener" to the Chairman of the Development Committee. The Development Committee then indulged into discussion with the Affiliates and this was 10 months after the new administration came into office. Even at that stage they came up with a "grandeur" idea i e the 3rd plan, costing a few million ringgits, which from the onset seem to be a non starter.
What surprises me is that the Development Committee is made up of a "high powered" team and i wonder how they miss the obvious matter of "planting the roots". The other problem may also be that the Committee may not have had the guidance by MHF as to know what exactly to tackle. It probably explains why they have the notion of intervention involving the high performance teams.
Some may argue that all these seem to provide the right excuses. Yet, the point being why did the Development Committee not seek guidance at an early stage itself rather than 2nd guessing what is expected of them. Indeed now "planting the roots" may not arise if the Ministry of Education (MOE) Hockey Development programmes gets into full swing. The schools become the "nurseries" i e the "planting fields". This effectively would save the Development Committee the resources of getting down to the ground as the teachers become the "agents of change".
Such being the case the Development Committee may have to re-engineer its direction and position itself to "aid and abet" the MOE development programmes. The areas they could look at is:
- Assisting in the creation of more teachers as coaches for development.
- Creating a system of quality control with MOE to ensure the system adopted nationwide is of the highest quality,consistent in nature and fits into a national game plan.
- Creating a "half way" Academy in each State to spot talents in the MOE programme and further enhance the skills of the selected students through periodic gatherings.
- This "half way" Academy can be part of the supply chain of players to the States and high performance teams.
- These "half way" Academies should be encouraged to have inter state tournaments to create a competitive nature.
These are some ideas floated, while the high powered team of the Development Committee may have better plans. The point being the Committee cannot sit around and wait for things to "drop from the sky". The MOE initiative is already underway and the MHF Development Committee should work with the MOE to take the programme to another stage rather than "hatching" another plan which may take another year in the making, if past experience is anything to go by.
In this way the Development Committee would be assisting to lay the foundation of a nationwide programme for schools with the MOE and working with the Affiliates. This tripartite relationship if undertaken properly would become a benchmark and a legacy to sports. More importantly, it could be the "infrastructure" to ensure an uninterrupted supply chain for future quality talents in Malaysian hockey. I am sure that would be the dream of this high powered Development Committee and why not?